Last Monday, July 25, 2011, the Federal Court of Canada released a decision reaffirming there is evidence that war resisters are targets of punishment because of their political beliefs if returned to the United States.
The judgment in the judicial review of US war resister and veteran Chris Vassey’s case found the Immigration and Refugee Board’s “lack of analysis of the evidence before it concerning the independence and impartiality of the US court-martial system, as well as the lack of reasons for preferring contrary evidence to that of the applicant to be unreasonable.”
This decision represents the 10th Federal Court or Federal Court of Appeal decision, since 2008, in favour of US war resisters who are seeking permanent resident status in Canada and the 8th such Federal Court decision to recognize there is evidence that war resisters are singled out for more severe punishment because they have expressed objections to war.
In his July 18 decision, The Honourable André F.J. Scott criticized the IRB, writing that it “largely ignored the evidence … about similarly situated individuals and prosecutorial discretion” and that “where prosecutorial discretion is used to inflict a disproportionately severe punishment on a deserter because of his or her political opinion, this may amount to persecution.”
“The Court finds that the Board’s failure to assess the evidence before it concerning the application of prosecutorial discretion on the grounds of political opinion was unreasonable.”
Justice Scott further found that the IRB was “under a duty to consider the evidence before it and address that which conflicted with its conclusions” but its “failure to do so with respect to the issue of applicable defences to the charge of desertion in US court-martial proceedings was unreasonable.”
As a result of this Federal Court decision, Chris will have a new IRB hearing, before a new Board member.
• Noam Chomsky endorses War Resisters Support Campaign
Thanks to the tireless work of our supporters in the Western New York Peace Center, Noam Chomsky has endorsed the War Resisters Support Campaign. We are working on getting a video statement in support of Iraq War resisters from Noam Chomsky, and will post it to our website as soon as it is available – www.resisters.ca
• Opposition to Operational Bulletin 202 grows
The campaign against Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney’s Operational Bulletin 202 is growing. The Operational Bulletin, which singles US war resisters out for ‘special treatment’ by Canadian immigratiob officials, has been denounced by Amnesty International and by the former chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board, Peter Showler. You can download a petition calling on the government to rescind the Operational Bulletin at http://www.resisters.ca/petition-repeal-OB202-mar2011.pdf.
A number of new video statements from supporters are now on Youtube – here are the links, please share widely:
• Upcoming conference on war resisters
Historians Against the War, supported by a number of other organizations including the War Resisters Support Campaign, have organized a conference titled “Looking Back, Moving Forward: War Resisters in North America”, to be held September 23 and 24, 2011 in Toronto. The event will look at war resistance from WWII to today, and will include veteran testimony, discussions on international law, Canada’s immigration and refugee policy, and strategies for building the anti-war movement today.
For more information on the conference program, please contact Luke Stewart, Historians Against the War at L5stewar@uwaterloo.ca.
In spite of constant interference and attacks by the Harper government, your hard work and efforts have been critical to keeping US war resisters in Canada. Thank you!
In peace and solidarity,