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Canadian government delays plan to forcibly confine travellers

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For those Canadians who may need to renew their visas to remain in Costa Rica come March when the current visa extension expires, this may come as good news.

The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms has released the following information on their website

The Justice Centre is pleased that the Trudeau government is delaying its plan to charge returning travellers $2,000 for forced hotel quarantine, in response to public backlash and the threat of litigation.

Since late January, the Justice Centre has received hundreds of emails from concerned Canadians who traveled abroad to receive emergency medical treatment, to care for dying family members, to attend funerals, to study abroad for school, or who had business or other personal reasons for travel.

On January 29, 2021, the Justice Centre announced that immediate legal action is being prepared against the Trudeau government over the declaration that Canadian residents will be subjected to mandatory quarantine, at their own expense, after returning from international travel, regardless of their negative Covid status. These measures are a blatant violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to enter and leave Canada, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, the right to retain legal counsel, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

In a letter sent to the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, the Justice Centre condemned the Trudeau government for its disturbing and aggressive opposition to the constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians.

The letter states the government’s arrest and detention of Canadians in this fashion is unlawful and unconstitutional, and demands the immediate release of any Canadian currently being so detained, permitting them to continue any necessary isolation protocols in their own homes.

Public opposition to these violations of Charter rights and freedoms emerged immediately after Transport Canada issued a statement that all Canadians returning from international travel would have to take a Covid PCR test upon arrival at the airport and quarantine in a hotel for three days at their own expense, at a cost of over $2,000 per person. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that if travelers had a positive Covid PCR test, the traveler would be force to go to a “government-controlled quarantine centre” for the remaining 11 days of quarantine,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In addition, the Canadian government insisted that Canadian-based airlines, including Air Canada, Sunwing and Westjet cancel flights to Mexico and the Caribbean on January 31, and lasting until at least April 30, 2021.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the new quarantine measures will now not begin for a few weeks, and the government is opening a process for hotels to apply to be detainment sites for Canadian citizens returning from travel, for any reason.

However, it has come to the attention of the Justice Centre, which has received emails from individuals detained against their will, that the federal government has already arrested Canadians arriving in the country by air and transported them to a secret hotel location, even though they possessed a negative Covid test, because it was an antigen test, not a notoriously unreliable PCR test. These citizens were held unlawfully despite not having been convicted of any offence, not having had access to a lawyer, and not having appeared before a judge. Law enforcement officers are apparently refusing to inform family members of where their loved ones are being held. The Justice Centre is actively working with Canadians who are being detained against their will.

“The government’s arrest and detention of Canadians in this fashion is unlawful and unconstitutional, and we demand the immediate release of any Canadian currently being so detained. The government has not explained why people cannot self-isolate at home,” states lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre.

“Locking people up in secret locations, without a right to call a lawyer or to have their detention reviewed by a judge, is in line with practices carried out by the world’s most repressive regimes,” continues Carpay.

Costa Rica may see an increase in requests for asylum from Canadians in the country based on the concept that their government is planning to deny their charter rights, and impose forced confinement upon their return to Canada. Whether that would be upheld as a valid case for asylum is not clear and should be discussed with an immigration attorney.

The good news is this delay may allow for some Canadians to return to Canada before the new quarantine restrictions come into effect. The problem is no one knows when that could happen, and what will happen to those already confined or how long it will last. The original statement from the embassy stated it would remain in effect until at least April 30th.

For those non residents planning to return to Costa Rica they should note that they will be required to comply with Costa Rica's requirement that they have adequate insurance coverage upon their return.