Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Canadian Appellate Court Opens Door To Refugee Status For U.S. Conscientious Objector to Iraq War

In Hinzman v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, (Fed. Ct. App., July 6, 2010), Canada's Federal Court of Appeal held than an American soldier's application for permanent residency as a refugee based on "humanitarian and compassionate" grounds may be granted when his refusal to deploy to Iraq was based on a sincere and deeply held moral, political or religious objection to a particular war. In a decision below, the applications judge agreed with the H&C Officer that the CO's potential punishment for desertion in the United States did not justify granting his application because "hardships attached to laws of general application in a democratic state cannot be considered as unusual and undeserved or disproportionate under Canadian law." The appeals court held, however, that "the H&C Officer had the duty to look at all of the appellants’ personal circumstances, including Mr. Hinzman’s beliefs and motivations, before determining if there were sufficient reasons to make a positive H&C decision." Axis of Logic yesterday, reporting on the decision, says that it has "[set] the stage for a new immigration review process for all those Iraq- and Afghanistan-assigned American soldiers who came to Canada as conscientious objectors." However Canada's Minister of  Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney is opposed to allowing American CO's to remain in Canada.