[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] declined on Thursday to hear the appeals of two US military deserters who sought refugee status within the country. Jeremy Hinzman [JURIST news archive] and Brandon Hughey, both soldiers in the US Army, fled to Canada in 2004 to avoid deployment in Iraq and applied for asylum [JURIST report] before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board [official website] in 2005. Both applications were denied, as were their subsequent appeal requests to Canada's Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court denied leave to appeal in both cases without comment. After the high court ruling was announced, Jeffry House, a lawyer for the two men, said he would ask the Canadian government to create a program that would grant protection to deserters of the Iraq war.
Both Hinzman and Hughey cited moral objections to the war in Iraq and the punishment they would likely face if they returned to the US as grounds for asylum. The Immigration and Refugee Board had concluded [decision text; JURIST report] that the two men would receive a fair trial if they were returned to the US and that they would not face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment. It is estimated that up to 200 former US military personnel are in Canada avoiding war service [WRSC selected profiles] and that roughly 20 of them have applied for refugee status. CBC News has more.