Canada’s Federal Court has ruled the country’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by sending refugees who arrive at Canada’s land borders back to detention in the United States.
It is the second time a federal judge has struck down the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement on constitutional grounds.
For Catholic refugee advocates, the ruling is a victory, said Norbert Piche, Jesuit Refugee Service country director for Canada.
“If we’re going to be saying that we are Christians, that we believe in what Christ tells us, then we have to believe in welcoming the stranger,” Piche said. “The stranger is the refugee claimant, the person who is fleeing persecution. If we are truly, bona fide Christians, we will stand up for these people.”
“We can continue being Canada – a fair country and a country that protects refugees,” said Loly Rico, co-director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, a shelter sponsored by the Faithful Companions of Jesus.
The case was brought in 2017 on behalf of three women by the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees. It was largely a reprise of a challenge the same parties brought to court a decade earlier. In 2007, a federal judge struck down the agreement on constitutional grounds, only to have the decision later overturned by an appeals court that ruled the three organisations did not have standing to argue on behalf of refugees before the court.
Picture: Migrants, refugees, undocumented workers and their supporters rally outside the office of Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in Toronto on 4th July 2020. A federal court in Canada ruled on 22nd July that the Safe Third Country Agreement, which allows Canada to send certain refugee petitioners back to the United States, is unconstitutional. (CNS photo/Chris Helgren, Reuters).