Saturday, 5 July 2008

Deserters from US Army May Get Refugee Status

In Key v. Canada, the Federal Court of Canada yesterday granted judicial review of a decision denying refugee status to a deserter from the United States armed forces: According to Justice Robert Barnes, ‘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’. The Court overturned a ruling of the Immigration and Refugee Board
According to Key, while in Iraq with a unit of combat engineers, he had participated in at least 70 raids on civilian homes. The Board found that such actions had ‘a disturbing level of brutality’ but that they were not war crimes involving deportation, slave labour or civilian hostage-taking, or crimes against humanity, with systematic use of torture and murder against civilians. ‘In my view, the Board erred in … 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’, wrote Justice Barnes.
See also:
The case returns to the Board, which still has to decide whether Key can get protection from persecution within the United States.
This is a fine way to mark the fourth of July which, as many readers of this blog will know, is celebrated in our home as the birthday of our grandson, Thomas William!

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