By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
OTTAWA, Canada – Over the weekend, the Canadian government released the names and photos of thirty suspected war criminals allegedly living in Canada. Many fear that the recent announcement will pave the way for xenophobia and vigilantism, according to The Montreal Gazette. On the other hand, Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney believes that releasing the names is a good thing, as two of the men have already been arrested.
As reported by The Canadian Press, 42-year-old Arshad Muhammad was arrested in Toronto when a police officer recognized him. He is allegedly linked to an Islamic organization in Pakistan. Additionally, 44-year-old Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez was arrested in Alberta. He allegedly has ties to a special army unit in his homeland of Honduras.
According to the public safety minister’s office, Canada says that this is a “pilot project.” Mike Patton, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews thinks that the project is working. He said, “Clearly it’s been excellent thus far,” as reported by The Toronto Sun.
On the other hand, many groups feel that releasing the names and photos unfairly labels people who have never even been tried in a court of law.
Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (“CCLA”) said that this list is both alarmist and misleading, as reported by The Montreal Gazette. The profiles on the war criminals do not tell the public what the men are suspected of, causing many to overreact, imagining the worst crimes against humanity when some may have been messengers or drivers.
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, also with the CCLA, finds the list very worrisome. “I see this as a very worrying and increasing trend of fanning the flames of racism, of xenophobia, of anti-immigrant sentiment by trying to create associations between immigrants and refugees and all these other terrible things,” according to The Toronto Sun.
Canada has often been criticized for their somewhat lackadaisical policies on immigration. The Obama administration wants stricter enforcement of immigration laws and more cooperation between Ottawa and Washington. Marshall Drukarsh, immigration attorney, is skeptical of this “more Americanized attitude” on immigration.
Kenney says that dozens of tips have come in since the government posted the list. If this ‘project’ goes well, Canada will continue to release names of other suspected war criminals allegedly living in Canada.
For more information, please visit:
The Toronto Sun — Going Public With War Criminals ID’s a ‘Pilot Project’ — 25 July 2011
CTV News (The Canadian Press) — Kenney Credits Suspected War Criminal List for Quick Arrests — 24 July 2011
The Toronto Sun — War Criminal Nabbed in Toronto — 23 July 2011
The Montreal Gazette — Feds Say 30 Men Suspected of ‘War Crimes’ Are Living In Canada — 22 July 2011
The Wall Street Journal — Canada Says 30 Immigrants Suspected of War Crimes — 22 July 2011