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April 1, 2006

Federal Court Rejects War Resister Appeals: "Mere Foot Soldiers" Not Refugees

Toronto -- Yesterday Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish handed down her decision in the case of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. She dismissed their appeal, but certified a "serious question of general importance" so that they can appeal her ruling to the Federal Court of Appeal. No date has been set for that appeal.

A major argument in the Hinzman/Hughey appeal was that the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which rejected their refugee claims last year, was wrong to stop them from basing their refugee claim on the illegality of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In those hearings, the illegality of the invasion was ruled "irrelevant' to their refugee claims. Justice Mactavish upheld this ruling of the IRB. Her reason was that, as "mere foot soldiers" they had no role in planning the invasion, and therefore had no risk of being prosecuted for the crime of aggression.

"I believe that Justice Mactavish made the same legal error as the IRB did," said Jeffry House, the lawyer who represents the two war resisters. "She accepted the idea that, as 'mere foot soldiers', my clients had no right to refuse to take part in an illegal war. But to her credit, she did ensure that this issue will be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal, where I am optimistic that her error will be corrected."

Lee Zaslofsky, the Campaign Coordinator for the War Resisters Support Campaign and a Vietnam War deserter, said "This decision reinforces our determination to seek a political solution that will make it possible for US Iraq War resisters to stay in Canada. We're calling on all Canadians who support the war resisters to mobilize their communities to show that Canadians want the Government to let the war resisters stay. And we will be calling on every Member of Parliament to work to ensure sanctuary for the war resisters."


For further information:
Lee Zaslofsky 416 598 1222 or 416 369 0864
Michelle Robidoux 416 856 5008 (cell)