Canada’s parliament votes to grant asylum to US war resisters

Parliament on Tuesday voted to allow US resisters of the Iraq war who fled to Canada to stay in this country, thus avoiding military court-martial in the United States.

The non-binding motion passed 137 to 110, with support from all three opposition parties, which hold a majority of seats in the House.

It urged the government to allow conscientious objectors “who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations” to stay in Canada.

“Canada has always been a place which has welcomed those who seek peace and who seek freedom,” opposition Liberal MP Bob Rae told reporters.

“This country should continue to recognize conscientious objectors, particularly to a war which international law has held to be illegal and which this country chose by an act of deliberate policy, chose not to join,” he said.

“And if they want to choose to become Canadian, Canadian landed immigrants, they should be allowed to do so.”

Canada previously welcomed tens of thousands of American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War era.

But Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has said more recently, in a decision supported last year by the federal court, that US asylum seekers are not conventional refugees under UN High Commissioner for Refugees rules, nor in need of protection.

Accordingly, their refugee claims have been denied.

As many as 200 Iraq War resisters are said to be currently in Canada, many of them living underground.

A former US military intelligence sergeant who came to Canada in August 2006 after serving in Iraq is expected this month to be the first to be deported, said the War Resisters Support Campaign.

Published: Tuesday June 3, 2008

Source: The Raw Story

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