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Canada court hears arguments in US Iraq deserter case

[JURIST] Canadian Federal Court [official website] Justice Anne Mactavish [official profile] reserved decision Wednesday after hearing arguments in the case [JURIST report] of US military deserter Jeremy Hinzman [advocacy website], who fled to Canada in January 2004 with his wife and son to avoid deployment to Iraq. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board [official website] denied [text; JURIST report] Hinzman’s request for refugee status last March, saying he had not made a convincing argument that he faced persecution in the US should he be returned there.

Hinzman’s lawyer contends that the board erred in refusing to consider evidence of the illegality of the war on terror and the court-martial punishment Hinzman faces in the US. Amnesty International [official website] and the University of Toronto's International Human Rights Clinic both seek to intervene [CP report] in the case on Hinzman’s behalf. It's estimated that up to 200 former US military personnel are in Canada avoiding war service; some 20 have applied for refugee status, Hinzman having been the first one to do so. Canada was a haven for American draft dodgers [CBC backgrounder] during the Vietnam War. From Canada, the Globe and Mail has local coverage.

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