US soldier deported from Canada sentenced to prison for desertion

[JURIST] A US military judge in Colorado sentenced US Army Pfc. Robin Long [advocacy website] Friday to 15 months in prison, dishonorable discharge and demotion after Long pleaded guilty to desertion with intent to remain away permanently. Long fled to Canada in 2005 in moral opposition to the war in Iraq and filed for refugee status [Refugee Protection Division website] there, but a Canadian immigration judge denied [opinion, RTF] his motion in August 2007, writing:

I find nothing in the claimant’s evidence that would support a finding that he could not rely upon the state to protect him from persecution or any other harm. There is no support for a finding that it was objectively reasonable for the claimant not to have sought protection in his country.
Canadian officials deported [JURIST report] Long to the US in July. US authorities initially charged him with desertion with intent to shirk hazardous duty, a more serious offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [885. Art. 85 text], but Long pleaded to the lesser offense of desertion with intent to remain away permanently the same day as the scheduled start [press release] of his court-martial proceedings. The New York Times has more. The Toronto Star has additional coverage.

In early July, Canada's House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution to grant US military deserters asylum [Globe and Mail report]. In November 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] declined to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman [JURIST news archive] and Brandon Hughey [advocacy website], two US military deserters who had unsuccessfully applied for asylum [JURIST report] before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) [official website]. The IRB 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.


 

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