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article imageOp-Ed: Removing suspected war criminals from Canada

By Arthur Weinreb     Aug 1, 2011 in Politics
The release of photographs of 30 suspected war criminals by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been successful. But when is Canada going to get serious about removing dangerous criminals who are under deportation orders?
Yesterday the CBSA announced the first of the 30 men whose pictures were made public on July 21, has been removed from Canada. Manuel De La Torre has been sent back to his native Peru.
With the help of the public, five of the 30 suspected war criminals have been taken into custody. It is also been determined that a sixth, a citizen of Sri Lanka, is no longer in Canada. Since Canada does not keep records of those who leave the country, the government did not know how many of the 30 were actually still in Canada at the time the photographs were released.
The 30 men in question all came to Canada and made claims to be Convention refugees. Section 98 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that a person described in Article 1F of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is not a Convention refugee. Article 1F says the Convention does not apply to a person if there are "serious reasons for considering" that person has committed a war crime or a crime against humanity.
After the 30 were found not to fit into the category of Convention refugees, they were ordered deported from Canada. But they were released from custody, did not show up for removal and either went underground or left the country.
Canada of course should remove people who are considered to have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. Legally, they are inadmissible to Canada and should not be allowed to stay. And no one wants Canada to become a haven for war criminals. It is irrelevant that none of the 30 have actually been proven to be war criminals in a court of law. The United Nations Convention and Canadian legislation are clear. And the Supreme Court of Canada held years ago that deportation of a foreign national is not punishment. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not necessary for removal.
In the latest media release issued by the CBSA, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was quoted as saying: We continue to take the necessary measures to protect the safety and security of our families and communities. This is not the first time Minister Toews has spoken about safety in relation to suspected war criminals. Yet whether or not a suspected war criminal is removed from the country has nothing to do with the safety of Canadians.
The fact that someone is a suspected war criminal does not mean that person is dangerous to Canadians. A person who was active in an organization that has committed war crimes or crimes against humanity in their country of origin does not make the suspected war criminal dangerous in Canada. But there are others in Canada who have been ordered deported from Canada, failed to report for removal and have been found to have committed dangerous acts by Canadian courts.
These "others" are permanent residents of Canada who have lost their right to remain in the country and ordered deported after having been convicted of serious criminal offences. Like the 30 suspected war criminals, they have been released from custody, failed to report for removal and have gone underground. These drug dealers, robbers, sexual offenders and others who have committed serious criminal offences really are dangerous. But the Public Safety Minister has yet to release any of their pictures on the grounds of privacy. Up until July 21, the pictures of suspected war criminals were not released due to privacy concerns. It is truly ironic that many of these convicted criminals have had their mugshots released by various police departments and splashed across the media. Yet the Canadian government feels the need to protect their privacy.
Releasing the pictures of suspected war criminals but not those who have found to have committed dangerous acts in Canada has nothing to do with safety; it has everything to do with politics. Removing war criminals from the country generally has the support of the ethnic community in question. It is not unheard of for someone to have come to Canada because they had been tortured, been accepted as a Convention refugee, established themselves in Canada and then walked down a street in a major Canadian city and run into the person that tortured them.
But releasing pictures of convicted criminals risks a backlash from the ethnic communities that these criminals belong to. Unlike war criminals there are many people (not just in specific ethnic communities) who are willing to make excuses for career criminals. It is often said that these criminals are "turning their lives around" which usually means they have been out of custody for a month and have not been arrested on a new charge. It is not quite as politically expedient to release pictures of former permanent residents as it is suspected war criminals.
The request for assistance from Canadians to help find absconding suspected war criminals is working quite well. Now it is time to go after the drug dealers, the armed robbers, and the sexual offenders.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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