Two prominent human-rights advocacy groups are looking to weigh in behind an American war dodger heading to court this week to contest his failed refugee claim, The Canadian Press has learned.
Amnesty International and the University of Toronto-based International Human Rights Clinic are seeking intervener status in the case of Jeremy Hinzman, who deserted the U.S. military to avoid service in Iraq.
In seeking refugee status in Canada, Hinzman unsuccessfully argued that fighting in Iraq would have amounted to an atrocity because the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal.
"That is a valid basis in which to ground a claim of a conscientious objector," said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
"That is a critical human rights principle that needs to be very clearly affirmed."
On Wednesday, the Federal Court will review a decision by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board last March to deny Hinzman political asylum.
In its ruling, the board said Hinzman was not a conscientious objector because, although he opposed the war on Iraq, he is not a pacifist.
At any rate, the panel said, the U.S. is a democratic country with a proper court system, and while Hinzman could face prosecution, that didn't amount to persecution.
Our courts and administrative boards may be packed with liberal activists, but even they have limits. No court is likely to issue a ruling that insults another free country's court system as a kangaroo court.
Besides which, Hinzman is not a terribly sympathetic victim. A young white middle-class American man, no matter how compelling his story, isn't going to attract a lot of personal sympathy from the liberal chattering classes and their interest groups (unless he's gay).
But bashing the United States is always in season, and if Hinzman is the best they've got, they'll suck it up and make a martyr out of him as best they can.
I get the impression, however, that the anti-war crowd would have been happier to have a minority or Muslim American soldier as their poster child "war resister."