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On Friday February 1st, the Federal Court of Canada released a decision granting U.S. war resister Jules Tindungan a new hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The Court found errors in the original IRB decision pertaining to issues which are at the heart of asylum claims by U.S. soldiers in Canada.
Mr. Tindungan is one of dozens of former U.S. soldiers who have sought asylum in Canada because of their objection to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tindungan refused to return to combat for the United States military in 2008 after serving a 15 month combat tour and seeing first-hand the breaches of the Geneva Conventions committed by U.S. forces.
Mr. Tindungan argued before the Refugee Board that he faces differential punishment in the U.S. because he has spoken out publicly against U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also argued that he would not get a fair trial if returned because the U.S. court-martial system is not an independent and impartial tribunal as required under Canadian and International law.
After reviewing Tindungan’s case, the Federal Court found that Tindungan “submitted voluminous documentary evidence from credible, third-party sources … that suggest that the U.S. has not complied with its international obligations”. However, the Refugee Board improperly ignored this evidence.
The Court further found that the U.S. court-martial system “fails to comply with basic fairness requirements found in Canadian and International Law”, therefore impacting whether Tindungan would receive a fair hearing if returned to the U.S.