A Toronto immigration lawyer has suggested there could be far-reaching implications to a January 10 Federal Court decision "staying" a deportation order issued against Ali-Reza Monemi. After the 27-year-old North Vancouver resident was taken into custody on January 7, his brother, Mohammed, and other supporters went on a hunger strike in subzero temperatures outside the downtown immigration office at Library Square.
Lorne Waldman, one of Monemi's lawyers, successfully argued in Federal Court on January 10 that the deportation order should be stayed pending Monemi's application for judicial review of the enforcement officer's refusal to defer his removal. Waldman told the Straight that he argued in court that the officer didn't take into consideration new evidence arising out of last month's deportation of another Iranian refugee claimant, 30-year-old women's-rights activist Haleh Sabha. Sabha's friends have claimed that upon her return to Iran in early December, she was detained for 26 hours and charged because she didn't have proper travel documents.
"We shouldn't be deporting people back to countries if the process of deporting them is going to put them at risk," Waldman said. "Ultimately, I think this is the significance of this case."
Waldman also represents Ottawa resident Maher Arar, who was deported from the U.S. to Syria, where Arar claims he was tortured. Waldman acted for Monemi on a pro bono basis. "If we were dealing with people who posed a threat to security, then one could understand the zeal that was shown in this case to try to get rid of a person," Waldman said. "But there's nothing of that here in Ms. Sabha's or Mr. Monemi's cases."
Citizenship and Immigration Canada did not return a call from the Straight.