Thursday, September 25, 2008

U.S. war deserter wins stay of deportation

U.S. war deserter wins stay of deportation

Linda Nguyen

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The Federal Court of Canada on Monday granted a stay of deportation to U.S. war deserter Jeremy Hinzman to allow time for the court to decide whether to hear his appeal on humanitarian grounds.

No date has been set for a decision on whether the court will hear the appeal.

Hinzman, 29, along with his wife and two young children, were ordered to leave Canada Tuesday. However, he will be able to stay in Canada while the court decides on the case.

"We are very happy that the Court has granted this stay of deportation," said Lee Zaslofsky, of the War Resisters Support Campaign in a statement Monday. "Jeremy and his family will be allowed to remain in Canada at least until the Court decides whether to hear his appeal."

That may take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Olivia Chow, NDP incumbent for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, said Monday that she was thrilled with the stay and hopes Hinzman will be permitted to remain in Canada.

On June 3, Chow's non-binding motion to not deport war resisters went through the House of Commons. It was approved by the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc, but the Conservatives opposed it.

"It's a minor victory and a step in the right direction," Chow said. "It's unfortunate it takes the court to do it and not the democratic process, which (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper is ignoring since Parliament stood up very clearly in support of my motion.

"I'm really happy for Jeremy and his family, especially the new baby. Now I'm going to find some flowers and bring to the family."

On Sunday, about 100 protesters travelled to Immigration Minister Diane Finley's southern Ontario constituency office, begging her to stop the deportation.

Hinzman joined the U.S. army in early 2001. Soon after, he sought status as a conscientious objector, which was denied.

He then fled to Canada with wife and son in 2004.

In August, Canada Border Services ordered Hinzman, his wife, son and daughter to leave the country by Sept. 23. The order came after Citizenship and Immigration denied two of his applications to stay, one made under the pre-removal risk program and the other on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The group says Hinzman and his family are the first Iraq war deserters to seek sanctuary in Canada.

U.S. deserters who are returned to their country can face penalties including criminal charges, being required to complete their military contract or being given an undesirable administrative discharge from army service.

In July, Canada deported war deserter Pte. Robin Long, who following his return to the United States, had a Colorado court martial in August and was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

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