The court of appeal sided with the Canadian government, which defended the agreement on refoulement of asylum seekers.
A Canadian appeals court on Thursday upheld a Canada-U.S. Deal to remove asylum seekers, overturning a lower court ruling, siding with the federal government and staging a possible Supreme Court showdown.
The Canadian government had appealed to defend the agreement and, by association, US immigration detention practices. Canada had argued that the pact was necessary to manage its border with the United States.
The question was whether the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), a pact signed in 2002 under which asylum seekers attempting to cross between Canada and the United States at formal border crossings have returned and returned, violated the fundamental rights of a refugee claimant under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Thursday’s ruling said it was not the agreement itself that could have been at the root of the alleged violations of claimants’ rights, but the periodic reviews of the US designation as a “safe” country. as well as “related administrative behavior”.
The challenge should have been focused on those reviews, according to the ruling, even though the government kept them secret.
The ruling also said that the experiences of just 10 cited asylum seekers were not sufficient to draw conclusions about the US migrant detention system and potential rights violations.
It is a problematic hurdle to be established, said Jamie Chai Yun Liew, professor of immigration law at the University of Ottawa, adding that the decision and the continuation of the agreement goes against reputation. that Canada has built itself as a champion of refugees.
“It erodes our commitment to protecting refugees and also erodes our reputation for respecting the rights of refugees,” she said.
The Government of Canada had argued that it would suffer “irreparable harm” if the agreement were dissolved and if asylum seekers were allowed to enter through land border crossings and make a refugee claim.
“[The] The STCA remains a comprehensive vehicle for the compassionate, fair and orderly processing of asylum claims, ”the government said in a statement Thursday.
Refugee lawyers can apply to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last year, a federal court ruled that the agreement violated asylum seekers’ right to life, liberty and security of the person because those who had been returned could be held in detention indefinitely for migrants.
Refugee lawyers have also argued that people who attempt to make refugee claims that might be accepted in Canada, such as those based on gender discrimination, risk being returned by the United States to their country. native country.
Under the administration of former US President Donald Trump, tens of thousands of asylum seekers entered Canada between ports of entry to bypass the STCA, which only applies to formal border crossings.
Since the advent of COVID-19, however, it is Canada’s policy to return asylum seekers who attempt to cross irregularly. Although he does not follow what happens to them, at least a dozen have ended up in custody in the United States and at least one has been deported.