[JURIST] The Canadian Federal Court [official website] granted a last-minute stay of removal Monday for US Army deserter Jeremy Hinzman [JURIST news archive]. Hinzman fled to Canada from the US in January 2004 after leaving his unit, rather than deploy to Iraq. Hinzman had applied for asylum [JURIST report] in Canada and accused the US of war crimes in Iraq [JURIST report]. Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley [official profile] issued the stay of removal after hearing evidence [Canadian Press report] that an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) [official website] official had made serious errors in assessing the hardships Hinzman and his family would face if forced back to the US. CBC News has more.
Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] declined to hear the appeals of Hinzman and another US deserter, Brandon Hughey, of the IRB denials of their asylum applications. 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. In early July, Canada's House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution to grant US military deserters asylum [Globe and Mail report].