On Friday, March 24, an additional protocol to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) expanded Canada’s authority to return refugee claimants to the US who entered Canada at unofficial border crossings. Although there are a number of exceptions within this new Agreement, ISSofBC does not support this protocol.
We are concerned by the potential negative humanitarian implications this expanded STCA will have on the safety of refugee claimants. We believe that every individual seeking refugee status should have the opportunity to have their needs for protection assessed within Canada.
The expansion of the STCA increases the risk for refugee claimants while failing to address the root causes of the mass migration we are seeing.
We believe that the new Agreement undermines Canada’s commitments as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and subsequent 1967 Protocols, as well as Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the rights of all persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. The new STCA weakens these rights to newcomers seeking safety in Canada.
As a leading refugee-serving organization, ISSofBC places the welfare of all newcomers to Canada as its priority. We urge the Government of Canada to undertake further consultation on this issue and adapt its current plans to safeguard the rights of the vulnerable men, women, and children attempting to cross the border.
We note that the Supreme Court of Canada will be releasing its verdict on the validity of the entire Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the USA by June 30, 2023. We will be following the news around their decision closely in the coming months.