Sidebar: Canada's deportation process 'lengthy'
July 23, 2010
Even though Leon Mugesera's deportation order was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada five years ago, appeal processes in cases like this can go on for years.
“Deportation orders are not automatic expulsions,” noted former justice minister and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. “The government has to listen not only to the courts' decision on removal orders, but also to its dictates as far as the standards for deportation, including the prohibition on deporting to torture or terror.”
Mugesera's case is not isolated and other alleged war criminals have eluded deportation for much longer than him. Among them is Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a convicted terrorist who hijacked a plane. He has been thwarting his expulsion since 1988.
“Delays are not unusual for complicated and high-profile cases, especially where another government is involved, because if it acts incorrectly Canada could be in breach of its own laws or of international laws,” said Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said it is impossible to provide normal or average timelines for deportation since a number or factors can be taken into consideration.
There can be delays in removal orders if a person has appealed or is involved in other legal proceedings, if the CBSA has difficulties obtaining passports or visas, if the person's identity or citizenship cannot be confirmed, if the person fails to appear for removal at the proper time or location, or if dangerous conditions make it impossible to safely return the person to the country of origin.
The CBSA noted that prior to removal, an individual can file a claim for refugee protection.
“The process can be lengthy due to all that is required,” Cotler said, adding that as justice minister he ordered the extradition Karlheinz Schreiber, who had already been before the courts for five years, and then did not leave Canada for another five.
The Conservative government recently announced it will tighten citizenship and refugee rules in a move that will make it easier to strip citizenship from those who hide crimes committed abroad and to get war criminals out of Canada.