Letter: Canada needs to stop Safe Third Country Agreement now after Federal Court ruling

Leading advocacy organizations and courageous refugees were successful in their pursuit to end Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the US after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional. The agreement mandates the immediate rejection and return of refugee claimants coming through the US to Canada based on the assumption that they will be treated humanely if sent back. However, this has not been the case for the 16-year history of the agreement, especially recently. One of countless examples of this involved Nedira Mustefa from Ethiopia, who was kept in solitary confinement without reason for a week, “a terrifying, isolating and psychologically traumatic experience” where she didn’t know if she should be released. Despite the ruling, we continue with the unacceptable status quo as the government was granted 6 months to comply and also is considering an appeal.

The government should stop STCA now. As the justice stated, “Canada cannot turn a blind eye to the consequences that befell Ms. Mustefa” and we should not spend another moment complicit in human rights violations.