2 soldiers who fled to Canada denied refugee status
May 08, 2007 04:30 AM
Two U.S. Army deserters who lost a Federal Court of Appeal hearing in their bid to stay in Canada haven't lost hope and will seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, their lawyer says.
"This is not a setback that will dissuade us," solicitor Jeffry House said of last week's appeal court ruling.
Still, his clients Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey "are very disappointed," the court didn't conclude they should have refugee status.
The court had been asked whether a soldier should be forced to take part in an illegal war, House noted. The former soldiers have argued that the Iraq war is illegal because it violates international law and that conscientious objectors should not be punished.
In an interview, House said a previous Federal Court of Appeal overturned an Immigration and Refugee Board decision granting refugee status to a deserter from Yemen who had testified he was ready to fight for his country but not for Saddam Hussein when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
The deadline to file for a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is June 30. Unless they're successful, Hinzman and Hughey will be forced to return to the U.S. where they will be court-martialled and could face up to two years in jail for desertion.
Hinzman and Hughey, who both live in Toronto, could not be reached for comment.
Hinzman served in Afghanistan. He was refused conscientious objector status and came to Canada with his wife and child after learning his unit was being deployed to Iraq. He appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in December 2004. Before the hearing started, however, the board ruled the legality or illegality of the war could not be used as an admissible argument. Separate immigration panels determined neither Hinzman nor Hughey were conscientious objectors and were not eligible for refugee status.
Hughey also arrived in 2004 and left his unit before it shipped out to Iraq.