PBI expresses concern at increasing militarization of borders, particularly by the United States, Mexico and Guatemala

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Video: On June 24, Peace Brigades International and 31 other organizations expressed concern about the militarization of borders in a Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants at the Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

Peace Brigades International affirms its support for the principle of non-refoulement that says migrants and asylum seekers should not be forcibly returned to a country where they may be subjected to torture or persecution.

PBI has signed this statement that further expresses the concern that the practice of returning migrants is being performed “in contexts of militarization of borders, particularly in the United States, Mexico and Guatemala.”

That statement adds: “We have witnessed an excessive increase of military and security personnel in migratory verification and control tasks.”

It also notes: “We are concerned by current negotiations between the United States, Mexico and Guatemala on increasing the militarization of their borders.”

Canada and migration from Central America and Mexico

Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino recently met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. In that context, Reuters notes: “Canada is prepared to take in some Central American migrants to help the United States, which is grappling with an influx of migrants at its southern border with Mexico.”

Professors Anne-Emanuelle Birn and Liisa L. North have noted: “In 2017, Canada allocated a pitiful number of spots to Central Americans: out of 25,000 total spaces for resettled refugees, just 380 for all of the Americas.”

Global News has also provided the recent context that: “Three-quarters of the Mexican refugee claims that were heard by the [Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada] in 2017 were either rejected, abandoned or withdrawn.”

Canada to chair Central American and Mexico refugee platform

On June 4, World Refugee Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced: “Canada looks forward to becoming Chair of the Central America and Mexico Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) Support Platform next month. In that role, we will continue to champion the protection and meaningful participation of displaced women and girls on the international stage.”

Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement

Canada is a signatory to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, meaning Canada cannot directly or indirectly breach the principle of non-refoulement.

That said, Reuters has reported: “Canada wants to expand the Safe Third Country Agreement (SCTA), under which asylum-seekers trying to cross at ports of entry are [automatically] turned back, so that it applies to the entire Canada-U.S. border.”

On July 22, 2020, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement infringes on the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees “the right to life, liberty and security of the person”

The Trudeau government appealed that ruling and on April 15, 2021, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement, that sees the United States as “a safe country” for refugees, does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada and human rights defenders

On June 4, Trudeau also announced: “This year, we will launch a dedicated refugee stream for human rights defenders at risk, which will enable Canada to become one of the first countries to offer dedicated protection spaces to this population of refugees.”

Earlier this year, PBI-Canada highlighted that the Canadian government does not have a program to support short term stays for human rights defenders. For more on that, please see Could Canada implement a relocation program for human rights defenders as Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland have done?

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