Canada Halts Deportation Of US Deserter

A Canadian judge has put a hold on deportation orders that would have forced a deserter from the United States armed forces to be sent back across the border where he would have faced serious charges. A Federal Judge said immigration officials had made serious errors in failing to assess the hardships the deserter and his family would have confronted if sent back to the United States. Jeremy Hinzman’s lawyer, Alyssa Manning, had argued there was evidence that outspoken critics of the Bush invasion of Iraq had been subjected to much harsher punishment than ordinary deserters. The Hinzman case is supposedly the first of several that deal with Americans who have refused to serve in the military due to the war in Iraq.

Crown lawyer Stephen Gold argued it was not the responsibility of the Canadian government “to pass judgment on a military code in a foreign country.” Hinzman had deserted the 82nd Airborne division in 2004 when it was scheduled for deployment to Iraq. Two Canadian courts previously ruled Hinzman faces prosecution, not persecution if he returns to the States.

Judge Richard Mosley disagreed with the government’s contention that nothing unusual would occur and Hinzman would be treated fairly in America. “Based on the evidence and submissions before me,” said Mosley, “the applicant would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted.” There is some evidence Canadian courts are reflecting the feeling of most Canadians.