A while ago, I linked to a story about a Canadian judge who decided officially that the US does not protect refugees. I guess it’s a big story up in Canada, but here in the US we don’t care what Canada thinks and, it seems, we don’t really care about refugees. Still, the NY Times has an update on the story with more details:
The case concerned a 2002 agreement between the United States and Canada on the treatment of people fleeing persecution from other places, and the agreement itself requires compliance with international conventions on refugees and torture.
Under the deal, which became effective three years ago this month, people from other countries entering Canada from the United States by land could no longer ask for asylum, on the theory that they should have done so in the United States. (The agreement works in reverse, too, but most refugee traffic moves north.)
In his studiously technical 124-page decision, Justice Phelan found that a one-year deadline for filing asylum claims here, enacted by Congress in 1996, had been applied in recent years in ways that violated the international convention on refugees.
He found a similar flaw in a provision of the USA Patriot Act that, as interpreted by the Bush administration’s immigration courts, allows people to be excluded for providing material support to terrorists — even if the support was coerced or under duress.
In other words, providing food at gunpoint may be material support of terrorism, as is paying ransom for a kidnapped relative.
Justice Phelan’s decision also cited the findings of a Canadian commission in the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian whom the United States sent to Syria, where the commission said he was tortured.
“Canada, which has a lot of respect for the institutions and traditions of the United States, was forced to conclude that the U.S. is violating refugees’ rights,” said Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
“It should be a wake-up call,” she said, sounding a little plaintive.
Of course, the Bush administration doesn’t seem to care. What a surprise.