July 06, 2008

Let those deserters into Canada !! (I'll say)


CBC News : Friday, July 4, 2008 | 7:18 PM ET

An American war deserter could have a valid claim for refugee status
in Canada, the Federal Court ruled on Friday.

In a decision that may have an impact on dozens of refugee claimants in
Canada, Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes said Canada's refugee board
erred by rejecting the asylum bid of Joshua Key. He ordered that a new
panel reconsider the application.

Key was sent to Iraq in 2003 as a combat engineer for eight months
where he said he was responsible for nighttime raids on private Iraqi
homes, which included searching for weapons.

He alleged that during his time in Iraq he witnessed several cases of
abuse, humiliation, and looting by the U.S. army.

When Key was back in the U.S on a two-week leave, he said he was
suffering from debilitating nightmares and that he couldn't return. A
military lawyer told him that he could either return to Iraq or face

Instead, Key took his family to Canada and applied for refugee status.

While the immigration board concluded that some of the alleged conduct by
the U.S military included a "disturbing level of brutality," it said
the conduct did not meet the definition of a war crime or a crime against

Barnes said the board erred "by concluding that refugee protection for
military deserters and evaders is only available where the conduct
objected to amounts to a war crime, a crime against peace or a crime
against humanity."

Citing a case from the U.S. Federal Court of Appeal, Barnes said
officially condoned military misconduct could still support a refugee
claim, even if it falls short of a war crime.

"The authorities indicate that military action which systematically
degrades, abuses or humiliates either combatants or non-combatants is
capable of supporting a refugee claim where that is the proven reason for
refusing to serve," Barnes wrote.

Barnes said the board imposed a legal standard that was "too
restrictive" on Key, who lives in Saskatchewan.

Key's lawyer, Jeffry House, said the ruling expands a soldier's right to
refuse military service.

"It's a huge victory for numerous soldiers who are here and maybe
others who are thinking of coming here," House said.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Diane Finley said they were
reviewing the court decision.

No comments: