Deported U.S. war resister denied due process: supporter

An alleged failure of communication on behalf of the Canada Border Services Agency could have played a significant role in the July 15 deportation of Robin Long, a supporter has said.

Speaking to the Straight in a telephone interview, Bob Ages, from the Vancouver chapter of the War Resisters Support Campaign, claimed that Long was “denied due process”.

On July 15, Long, a U.S. war resister, was transported from a jail in Nelson to Whatcom County Jail in Washington state.

The deportation came less than 24 hours after Madame Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada ordered Long’s removal from the country. Although the text of her decision is yet to be made public, it has widely been reported that Mactavish ruled on the grounds that Long failed to prove that he faced irreparable harm if returned to the United States.

Since then, many of Long’s supporters have claimed that things could have gone differently if Long had been given the opportunity to appeal a decision made by Citizenship and Immigration Canada on May 7.

That day, CIC issued a negative decision on Long’s pre-removal risk assessment application.

If a person’s claim is denied by the CIC, that person has the right to “make an application for leave to the Federal Court to try and have the Court judicially review the PRRA decision”, according to a Canada Border Services Agency fact sheet.

But according to a court transcript for a July 8 detention review hearing, Long’s counsel claimed that neither he nor his client were informed of the May 7 decision until July 8.

In that transcript, Long’s lawyer, Shepherd Moss, is quoted as saying, “There’s some questionable aspects to this case. Mr. Long’s PRRA was purportedly refused on May 7th. I’ve just been handed a copy of the notice that his PRRA has been refused. He [Long] hasn’t received that. He hasn’t received reasons for the refusal of the PRRA.”

Moss has consistently declined to discuss Long’s case with the press. Contacted by the Straight, he directed questions to Ages.

Ages claimed that if Long’s counsel had received notice of the CIC’s May 7 decision, they would have filed an appeal to the Federal Court of Canada.

“There were egregious errors [in the May 7 decision],” he said. “That’s why we were asking for a stay.”

Ben Letts, a spokesperson for CIC, confirmed that the CIC did deliver a negative decision on Long’s PRRA on May 7, but claimed that it was CBSA that would have failed to communicate the decision to Long.

“Once CIC makes a decision on a PRRA, they deliver it to Canada Border Services Agency, and then it is up to their removal officers to present the PRRA decision to the client,” Letts said in a telephone interview. “If the allegations are true, it would be a Canada Border Services Agency responsibility to deliver the decision to Mr. Long.”

CBSA’s communications manager, Shakila Manzoor, refused to confirm or deny whether there was a failure on behalf of CBSA to communicate the May 7 PRRA hearing decision to Long.

Manzoor claimed that Canadian privacy legislation prevented her from commenting on the specifics of Long’s case.

Long is the first “conscientious objector” to the U.S. war in Iraq to be deported from Canada. Long volunteered for U.S. military service in 2003 and fled to Canada in 2005, shortly before a scheduled deployment to Iraq.

The War Resisters Support Campaign estimates that there are around 200 U.S. army deserters presently staying in Canada.

A candlelight vigil for Long was held on July 15 at the jail in Bellingham.