COVID-19 leaving refugees & asylum seekers trapped between borders

Asylum Anonymitysource: National Observer
published: 17 April 2020

On March 17, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada postponed all in-person hearings for asylum claims until at least April 13. On March 20, the Canadian government announced it would close its borders to asylum seekers from other countries.

For those crossing the Canada-U.S. border, Canada is turning away irregular asylum seekers and sending them back to the United States, whose current plan is to send them back to the countries they came from.

These actions violate non-refoulement — the core principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which asserts that a refugee or asylum seeker should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or [basic] freedom.

Sending people back to violence also violates the fundamental principle of non-derogable human rights, and is logistically impossible in the current travel ban era. Although going home is not an option for the forcibly displaced, languishing in detention is an appalling alternative. Canada seems complicit in this.

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