Saturday, July 19, 2008

Robin Long's extradited

There is something happening to Canada that makes me uncomfortable. Last week, our Prime Minister joined with President George W. Bush to defer action on climate change to United Nations' talks planned 18 months from now in Copenhagen.
This week, the Prime Minister allowed Robin Long, a U.S. Army deserter who fled to Canada three years ago, to be deported to the United States, marking the first time a resister to the U.S war effort in Iraq has been removed from this country by Canadian authorities. Long sought refuge on the grounds that the U.S. Army wanted him to participate in an 'illegal war of aggression" in Iraq.
Coincidentally, the Prime Minister abandoned Omar Khadr to the vagaries of the U.S. military tribunal prosecuting him for alleged war crimes, including the grenade killing of a U.S. soldier. The Prime Minister's failure to act on the above reflects poorly on the values of Canadians and plants Canada's international reputation in an unfamiliar place.
Omar Khadr was born in Toronto. He is a Canadian citizen. He was captured in 2002, at the age of 15 by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He was a "child soldier". He should have received the protection of international law. Instead of being tried in U.S. military courts, he should have been protected and offered rehabilitation. He has been held without trial in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2002.

The above is from W.E. (Bill) Belliveau's "It's time for Canada to act on Khadr" (Times and Transcript). Robin Long is a US war resister who went to Canada because he could not participate in an illegal war. On Monday, he was the subject of a deportation hearing. But he really wasn't deported. Deported means you are ordered out of the country. What Judge Anne Mctavish arranged was an extradition. She wants to lie (she lies about a lot -- and had an interesting dinner last weekend that she thinks no one's ever going to find about) and claim she authorized deportation. She authorized extradition. Deportation would have meant Robin was evicted from Canada. Robin could have then decided to go back to the US or he could have gone to Norway, Mexico, anywhere he wanted. Canada DOES NOT have the right to order him to the United States. But that is what they appear to have done. They made arrangements for him to be turned over to the US military police. Desertion from the US army is not a crime in a Canada and no one can be extradited to the US for that 'offense.'

Back during Vietnam, before spring 1969 (and later by fall of 1969 when Pierre Trudeau gave his speech and implemented the new policy), deserters and draft dodgers/evaders seeking advice in the US before going to Canada were advised to fly in, not simply cross the border by vehicle or on foot. The reason was because if you landed at an airport, they might decide to deport you but there was a process they'd have to go through. Whereas, at a border crossing, they could just turn you back right there.

Judge Mctavish needs to be disbarred because she doesn't understand case law, she refused to follow Canada's policy on immigration (e.g. deporting the parent of a Canadian child) and because Robin Long was NOT deported. He was extradited for an 'offense' that Canada does not recognize as a crime and that Canada has no treaty with the US that finds desertion from the US military to be grounds for extradition.

Long was held in a secret location, kept from his family (he has a partner in Canada, Renee, with whom he had a child), kept from his friends, and there's some question as to how much contact his attorneys were allowed.

Canadians should be outraged because Judge Mctavish allowed the US to call the shots on issues that pertain their country.

While Long's supporters, friends and family could not know when he was being 'deported,' somehow the US government did? That's extradition, it is not deportation.

I can take part in a felony crime tomorrow, go to Canada and, let's say the crime's manslaughter, be denied immigration status and, because of Canadian laws and treaties with the US, the Canadian government can be working with the US government to turn me over.

But if I go to Canada tomorrow and have committed no crime in the eyes of Canada, if they deny me immigration status and order to me leave, that's it for the Canadian government. I can hop a plane to France, I can take a boat to Greece. That's not their say. I have committed no crimes in the eyes of the Canadian government and all they can do is order me out of the country, they cannot determine where I go after.

Robin Long was NOT deported, he was extradited. Arrangements were made with the US government. While his friends, family and supporters could not speak to him, while his contact with his attorneys was (at best) highly limited, the Canadian government was in contact with the US government (and Mctavish was in touch with the US embassy in Canada throughout -- which is something that should have been known publicly) arranging his arrest.

Desertion from the US military is NOT a crime in Canada. It is not covered by any treaty the US and Canada have. Judge Mctavish arranged an illegal extradition and she should be disbarred for it. The Canadian Parliament should hold hearings on this latest attack (from within their own country) on Canadian sovereignty.

Mctavish didn't follow guidelines, didn't follow case law, didn't follow anything. She oversaw the extradition of someone and, in doing so, she wrote her own law and her own little treaty with the US.

In the United States, were a Canadian citizen treated in that manner, there would be calls not just for disbarment of the judge, but for criminal prosecution of her. If a US judge ignored US laws, US guidelines and US treaties, to write her own law, to write her own treaties, it wouldn't be enough for her to leave the bench, we'd want her behind bars. Where she belongs. Where Judge Mctavish belongs.

OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) reported late yesterday afternoon, "A U.S. Army deserter who was expelled from Canada earlier this week is being escorted back to his post under police guard Friday."

Robin Long was detained in Canada. He'd committed no crime. The whole purpose of the detention was said to be because he was a "flight risk." A "flight risk"?

You're deciding whether or not to deport someone you judge to be a potential "flight risk"? The best thing for Canadian tax payers is to leave him at large. Yes, he may go somewhere else in Canada but that really wasn't the concern, it was never the concern. The concern was always that he would leave on his own. He might cross the border back into the United States and go underground (or turn himself in) or he might decide to hop a plane or boat to another country. He was imprisoned because it was decided then, before the hearing took place, that the Canadian government would ignore laws and treaties and actively work with the US government to extradite him.

That is what happened and Canadians should be outraged. Time and money was spent, on their tax payer dime, holding someone to prevent them from leaving the country so that the person could be . . . forced out of the country.

This is from "Canadian government deports U.S. war resister" (Workers World):

Special to Workers World
The minority Conservative government of Canada moved July 15 to deport 25-year-old U.S. war resister Robin Long, who would not fight in Iraq. Despite polls showing that 64 percent of Canadians want to grant sanctuary to Iraq War resisters and the passage of a parliamentary motion that would allow them to immigrate to Canada, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed a last-ditch attempt to delay the deportation process.
"I was just shocked at [the] ruling," said Bob Ages of the Vancouver War Resisters Support Campaign. "It just flies in the face of everything that we and every Canadian know." (Globe and Mail, July 15) He said the court misunderstood the situation facing Long. "I do not think there is any doubt someone being up in Canada, and a vocal opponent to the war, will be treated harshly by the American military. ... There is no question he will be court-martialed and will receive severe punishment." Long is expected to be imprisoned at Fort Knox, the same base where PFC James Burmeister faces court martial this week (see accompanying article).
"This is a gift from [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper to George Bush," said Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven. "And it is a gift to the headline writers, who will trumpet that Canada is no longer a safe haven for AWOL GIs.
"But it is an illusion," he added, "because this is not the first of many deportations. It may be the first and the last. A minority government that ignores the will of its people and its Parliament will not be allowed to rule much longer." Federal elections are expected to take place in Canada this fall. (press release, July 15)
Project Safe Haven, a war resister advocacy group based in Seattle, called on war resister supporters to gather on July 15 at Peace Arch Park on the U.S.-Canada border at Blaine, Wash. There they will be joined by Canadian supporters.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

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