FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2022
Media Advisory: BCCLA at Supreme Court of Canada to intervene on the constitutionality of the Safe Third Country Agreement and refugee human rights
WHAT: BCCLA at Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in the Canadian Council for Refugees v Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to argue that the Safe Third Country Agreement is unconstitutional
WHEN: October 6, 2022, at 9:30 am EST / 6:30 am PST
WHERE: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa)
Ottawa, ON (unceded Algonquin Anishnaabeg Territory) – The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments in Canadian Council for Refugees, et al v Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, et al today to determine the constitutionality of the legislation that implements the Safe Third Country Agreement—the agreement between Canada and the United States which establishes that refugees entering Canada from the United States are ineligible for refugee protection in Canada.
Under international law and s. 7 of the Charter, Canada cannot remove refugees entering the country to a territory where they run a risk of serious human rights violations or will not be treated in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. The premise of the Safe Third Country Agreement is that the United States will fulfill those obligations on behalf of Canada. With few exceptions, refugees entering Canada are thereby sent back to the United States. However, refugees entering Canada from the United States are routinely returned to a real risk of human rights violations in the American asylum system.
The BCCLA will submit that sending refugee claimants back to the United States, where they face the real risk of detention and criminal prosecution, violates the principles of fundamental justice under s. 7 of the Charter. The principles of fundamental justice must be interpreted consistently with both Canada’s international legal obligations under the Refugee Convention, as incorporated into Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the values and protections under other Charter rights. It is contrary to Canada’s legal obligations that the United States obstructs or delays claimants’ access to the refugee process and punitively imposes detention or criminally prosecutes refugees who have entered the contrary illegally.
Sending refugee claimants back to the United States also creates real risks of violations to the Charter right against arbitrary detention and the right against cruel and unusual punishment. Any punishment inflicted on refugee claimants for having entered the country illegally is grossly disproportionate.
The BCCLA is represented by Adriel Weaver and Jessica Orkin.
The BCCLA’s factum is available here.