The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is a treaty between Canada and the United States that was signed in 2002. It spells out the rules surrounding refugees who apply for asylum in either country. Under the STCA, refugees who arrive at the Canada-US border are required to claim asylum in the first country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception.
Recently, the Canadian government has been facing a lot of criticism about the STCA. In July 2020, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the agreement violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as it puts refugees at risk of being returned to the United States and subjected to detention, which could lead to human rights abuses. The ruling was based on a case brought forward by refugee advocacy groups who argued that the STCA violates the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits governments from returning refugees to countries where they could face persecution.
The Canadian government has been given six months to respond to the ruling, and in the meantime, the STCA remains in effect. However, some provinces, such as Quebec, have been pushing for the agreement to be suspended immediately, citing concerns about the treatment of refugees in the United States, particularly in light of recent immigration policies put in place by the Trump administration.
The STCA has also been a topic of controversy in the United States, where the Trump administration recently announced a proposal that would effectively end the agreement. The proposal would allow US authorities to immediately turn back asylum seekers who arrive at the Canadian border, even if they don’t pose a threat to national security. Critics argue that this would violate US refugee law and international human rights law.
Overall, the STCA is a complex issue with significant implications for refugee rights and international relations. As the Canadian government prepares its response to the Federal Court ruling, it will be important to consider the human rights implications of the agreement and work to ensure that vulnerable refugees are not put at risk.