Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 1, 2008
Cdn. Group seeks redress for refugees
Supreme Court asked to strike down pact
By MICHAEL SWAN
"Until it (U.S.) is a safe country for all refugees, Canada should not be a party to the abuse of human rights that takes place there."
- Liz McWeeny
The agreement says that refugees from around the world cannot pass through the U.S. and apply for refugee status in Canada. It implies that any refugee who is an American resident and seeking asylum in Canada should be able to find refuge in the U.S.
Liz McWeeny, president of the Canadian Council for Refugees and coordinator of the refugee sponsorship program for the Diocese of Thunder Bay, said: "It's not clear that the U.S. is a safe third (country).
"Many of us would say it is not a safe country for all refugees. Until it is a safe country for all refugees, Canada should not be a party to the abuse of human rights that takes place there."
As of Aug. 26, Canada's highest court had not decided whether it will hear the case compiled by the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International and the council for refugees.Last year the coalition initially won a ruling from the Federal Court of Canada, which struck down Canada's agreement with the U.S.
Justice Michael Phelan said the treaty was illegal because the United States deports people back to war and torture while denying their right to file a refugee claim.
The Federal Court of Appeal overturned that decision June 27, ruling that it is not within the Federal Court's authority to decide if the United States is a safe country for refugees.
The appeal court also said the coalition had no standing to appeal and that only a rejected refugee could make such a case.
The Rev. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches - of which the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is a member - denounced the appeal court decision.
It is shocking, Hamilton said, that the court would rule based on procedure while ignoring what refugees face in the United States.
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