Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa Should Suspend Safe Third Country Agreement

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa Should Suspend Safe Third Country Agreement

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Ottawa should suspend Safe Third Country Agreement


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Feb. 9:

In 2004, the Canadian and U.S. governments signed a treaty to streamline their refugee systems. The Safe Third Party Agreement dictates that most refugees who first land in the United States cannot then claim asylum in Canada, and vice versa. These refugees have already found safe haven, the thinking goes, so why allow a second system to be burdened with an unnecessary claim? It's an efficiency explicitly premised on the assumption that each country has a fair and functioning refugee policy.

But when it comes to the U.S., that's now a bad assumption, even after an appeals court upheld the suspension of President Donald Trump's travel ban on Thursday. In the fog surrounding Trump's three executive orders on immigration, what is clear is that in the coming months those in desperate need of asylum will remain in danger and in limbo. That's why many legal and human rights experts are calling on Canada to suspend the agreement. As the Star has argued before, Ottawa has a moral obligation to do so immediately.

The case for suspension is put forward obliquely but with particular force in a new report out of the Harvard University Law School. The authors chronicle the grave potential consequences of Trump's three executive orders on immigration: the large-scale detention of asylum seekers, the removal of refugees without due process, the empowering of local officials to detain individuals on "mere suspicion" of immigration violations, the discrimination based on asylum seekers' religion and nationality, among other inhuman and arguably unconstitutional outcomes.

"We are not going to tell the Canadian government what to do," the authors write, "but the finding that the U. …

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