Amnesty International Canada

Don't Abandon Refugees

Canada has requested that the United States renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement

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Canada is seeking to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) in an attempt to restrict the ability of refugee claimants in the United States from seeking protection in Canada. 

Under the STCA, refugee claimants must claim protection in the first country in which they arrive in most cases.  The agreement assumes the US is a ‘safe’ country which upholds international human rights and the Refugee Convention. However, there is an exception for those who do not cross at official border crossings, which is why so many people have made the difficult – and often dangerous – decision to cross into Canada irregularly.  

Now, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair has asked the United States to renegotiate the STCA, reportedly so that people caught between points of entry can be taken back to an official crossing and returned to the US.  Much of Amnesty’s research indicates that the United States is not safe for many refugees. 

Canada must act immediately to distance its refugee policy from the USA and rescind the Safe Third Country agreement so that refugees who turn to Canada are able to do so.

Additional Information

In 2017, Executive Orders were issued that blatantly violate international refugee and human rights legal obligations, including under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. 

Two of the Executive Orders include calls for a new regime of large-scale detention, expanded expedited removal without due process, deputizing of state and local officials to detain individuals suspected of immigration violations, and aggressive criminal prosecution for unauthorized entry, a means by which many seek access to asylum protection. 

The April 2018 ‘zero-tolerance’ policy separates and detains asylum seeking children and parents, and intentionally inflicts severe mental suffering on families for coercive purposes. 

The US practices and policies curtail asylum seekers’ ability to meaningfully pursue refugee claims in the United States, and greatly increase the risk that individuals with viable refugee claims will be deported to countries where they face persecution. 

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Call On Canada To Rescind The 'Safe Third Country' Agreement Immediately.


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