Welcome To The Third World!
) A Canadian judge has ruled, based on affidavits from about a dozen American professors and lawyers, that the United States has violated international conventions on torture and the rights of refugees, and that therefore, a treaty between the two countries - the Safe Third Country Agreement - is no longer valid.
The agreement, which is only three years old, held that people entering Canada from the U.S. by land could no longer ask for asylum in the North Country because they should have asked for it in the U.S. while they were there. Trouble is, since the U.S. is now seen around the world as a country that no longer respects the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, and in fact tortures political prisoners, as far as refugees are concerned, the U.S. might as well be one of those Third World countries where such offenses are commonplace. The court cited the case of Maher Arar, whom U.S. authorities kidnapped and sent to Syria to be tortured. Also, the USA PATRIOT Act allows the U.S. to refuse refugees legal status for having "provided material support to terrorists," even if they were forced or coerced into doing so - a caveat that Canada doesn't have in its refugee laws.
Of course, that judge's ruling will be appealed ... but it sure makes you (or at least me) feel sad for how low the U.S. under Bush and the Repugnicans has sunk in the eyes of the rest of the world, and particularly in the esteem of our closest northern neighbor.