TORONTO, Feb. 2 /CNW/ - Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCCC) and
Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) (Quakers) express
disappointment that the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) has rejected a
request to intervene in an appeal by US war resister Jeremy Hinzman.
Hinzman and family applied for permanent resident status in Canada on
humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but their application was
rejected. An upcoming appeal to the FCA will focus on whether
punishment for desertion from the military - if it was motivated by a
"deeply held" objection to war - could amount to "undue hardship" for
the purpose of a humanitarian and compassionate application.
The FCA refused CFSC-MCCC's intervention stating that they weren't
directly affected by the issue, wouldn't provide a "fresh
perspective", and that the Hinzmans' legal counsel could raise
Jane Orion Smith, General Secretary of CFSC, said, "The Court's
decision is profoundly disappointing. Quakers and Mennonites, the
core base of historic peace churches, have a unique and influential
role in establishing rights for conscientious objectors over several
centuries in Canada and internationally. During conscription, most of
our members sought exemption as conscientious objectors.
Conscientious objection is an issue of the present, not just history.
Jeremy Hinzman and his family are an active part of the Toronto
Quaker Meeting. Despite this setback, we will continue to educate and
advocate for the realization of this much misunderstood right which
is protected in domestic and international law."
CFSC and MCCC argued that because Jeremy Hinzman's conscientious
objection is rooted in his freedom of religion (and conscience),
there should be a different test for assessing his punishment for
holding those beliefs. It should not have to amount to "undue or
disproportionate" hardship. Any hardship for his beliefs could
potentially breach his religious rights, and the immigration officer
deciding his case had to consider his case in light of these rights.
Tim Wichert of Jackman & Associates, counsel for CFSC and MCCC, says:
"The Federal Court has specifically said that the issue of
conscientious objection still raises a host of outstanding questions,
begging for resolution. Because of their extensive experience with
this issue, we argued that Quakers and Mennonites had a unique
perspective to offer."
For further information: Tim Wichert (counsel), (905) 932-8914 or
(416) 653-9900 ext 228; Jane Orion Smith (CFSC), (416) 920-5213 or