(The Canadian Press)

Federal Court declares Canada-U.S. refugee pact unconstitutional

The agreement meant Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

A federal judge has struck down a key agreement on refugees between Canada and the United States.

In a ruling today, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald says elements of the law underpinning the Safe Third Country Agreement violate constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security.

Under the agreement, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection.

It means Canada can turn back potential refugees who arrive at ports of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis they must pursue their claims in the U.S., the country where they first arrived.

Canadian refugee advocates have vigorously fought the deal, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution.

The Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International argued in court that by returning ineligible refugee claimants to the U.S., Canada exposes them to risks in the form of detention and other rights violations.

The Canadian Press

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