Canada’s Supreme Court Upholds Immigration Agreement Allowing Authorities to Deny Asylum Seekers at US Border.

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Canada’s highest court has affirmed the legality of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which permits authorities to refuse entry to asylum seekers arriving from the United States. The agreement, implemented in 2004, stipulates that individuals seeking asylum must submit their applications in the first safe country they reach after leaving their home country.

In a unanimous decision, the judges determined that the accord does not violate the rights to liberty and security of refugee claimants. This ruling comes after a Federal Court judge invalidated the agreement in July 2020, citing concerns over poor detention conditions faced by individuals returned to the US.

Advocacy groups, acting on behalf of claimants including an Ethiopian woman who experienced a week of solitary confinement in a US detention center following removal by Canadian authorities, challenged the constitutionality of the agreement. However, Judge Nicholas Kasirer concluded that the Canadian legislative framework provides safeguards to protect against the risk of refoulement, even if asylum seekers face genuine threats upon return to the US.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court specified that the Federal Court should review the policy concerning female asylum seekers who fear persecution based on their gender. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) emphasized that the US is not a safe country for many refugees, particularly those identifying as women or from LGBTQIA+ communities. These individuals may be subjected to arbitrary detention, solitary confinement, and subsequent return to countries where they face persecution, torture, or death.

Amnesty International Canada urged the Canadian government to withdraw from the agreement as soon as possible due to the significant risk of refoulement it poses, especially for refugees escaping gender-based persecution. Secretary General Ketty Nivyabandi emphasized that the agreement places individuals in serious jeopardy.

Since March, migrants can be turned away at any point along the entire border between Canada and the United States. Previously, the agreement did not apply to asylum seekers who entered Canada through unofficial ports of entry, such as Roxham Road near Montreal. In 2022, approximately 40,000 migrants crossed into Canada via this route from the United States.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Bangladesh SAngbad Sangsta

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