Media Release – the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) supports a legal challenge to declare the Safe Third Country Agreement unlawful
For Immediate Release – October 30, 2019
On November 4, 2019, the Federal Court will hear weeklong arguments in a challenge to the
STCA. Public interest groups and individuals have come together to demonstrate that the STCA is
contrary to Canadian law and violates the equality and fundamental justice provisions in sections
15 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers is alarmed by the ongoing human rights violations for
asylum seekers in the USA. CARL believes that the agreement between Canada and the USA that
prevents vulnerable people from seeking refuge in Canada is unlawful.
The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) bars people from entering Canada to seek protection. Unless
a person meets very limited exceptions, a border officer must turn someone back to the USA, where
they will likely be detained.
Since the STCA was implemented in 2004, the situation for refugees in the USA has deteriorated.
Now, the U.S has limited asylum for women fleeing domestic violence to only exceptional cases.
Those who still can seek asylum often do so from a detention facility, where they are deprived of
the ability to have a fair hearing. These conditions place people at risk of refoulement being sent
back to their home country to face renewed harm – without ever having a proper assessment of their
The extensive evidence before the Federal Court is unequivocal. The USA fails to comply with its
international human rights obligations and the asylum system subjects vulnerable people to a risk
of being sent home to face persecution.
“Refugees seeking protection in the USA face one human rights violation after another” says Maureen
Silcoff, President of CARL. “Caging children and separating families violate basic human rights.
Unfortunately, these types of violations for asylum seekers have become the norm, not the
“People who fear torture or even death in their home country need access to a fair asylum system,
one that respects human rights and international law” says Aris Daghighian, member of CARL’s
executive. “Imagine having been detained and tortured back home because of your political views, or
your sexual orientation, and then preparing for your asylum case and testifying from a detention
centre wearing prison garb.”
CARL underscores the importance of securing the human rights for people seeking protection and
believes that the STCA unlawfully removes those rights.