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Canada must suspend “safe third country” refugee agreement with U.S.

Vancouver, BC (Coast Salish Territories) –The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association joins many other civil society and refugee-serving organizations in calling on the Government of Canada to suspend the “Safe Third Country” agreement with the United States. The agreement allows Canada to turn away most refugee claimants who are transiting through the United States to Canada via the land border, based on the premise that the United States is a safe country in which they can make their asylum claim.

Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA, stated: “The United States is clearly not a safe place for refugee claimants under the President’s executive order. If Canada ships refugee claimants back to the United States, the United States has made clear that it will refuse their claims. Sending asylum-seekers back to the U.S. will put Canada in breach of its legal obligations under the Refugee Convention. Canada cannot respect international law and continue in this agreement with the United States at the same time. We call on the federal government to suspend the Safe Third Country agreement effective immediately.”

The BCCLA added that Canada should make immediate efforts to assist refugee claimants affected by the ban to make their claims in Canada.

The BCCLA joins growing calls to the federal government made in the last 24 hours by Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and others.