Monday, February 5, 2007

Safe Third Country Agreement Challenged in Court

Canada, U.S. Pact on Refugees Flawed, Lawyer Says

Three refugee advocacy groups are mounting a legal challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States, arguing that the United States is not a safe country for all refugees and that the agreement is unconstitutional. Canada should not automatically send refugee claimants at the border back to the United States, and to do so is a breach of the Charter and of international refugee and human-rights law, Toronto lawyer Barbara Jackman said.

"It's not often someone goes to court moving to strike out an entire government program," said Ms. Jackman, who will argue the case Monday in Federal Court on behalf of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches.

The Safe Third Country Agreement, implemented in 2004, requires refugee claimants to seek protection in the first country they reach, and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of asylum claims in Canada to just 23,000 last year, from an average of 30,000 annually a decade earlier.

(click here to read more)