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Learning English - Words in the News
19 November, 2007 - Published 12:50 GMT
No asylum in Canada for US deserters
Jeremy Hinzman (image: Mark Laking)

Two American army deserters have lost their battle to stay in Canada, after the Supreme Court refused to hear their case. The two men, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, had sought asylum in Canada on the grounds of their opposition to the war in Iraq. This report from Lee Carter:

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Three Canadian courts in a row have now refused to hear the cases of the two American army deserters. This follows a rejection of their claims for asylum two years ago by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board.

Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey each separately deserted to Canada in 2004, after learning they were to be deployed to Iraq. During his hearing, Mr Hinzman said that he opposed the war in Iraq on moral grounds and thought that the US invasion violated international human rights standards.

But the Immigration Board said that he failed to convince them that he would be persecuted if he returned to America. Critics of the deserters also point out that they voluntarily joined the US army, in contrast to the 1960s when Canada gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of American conscientious objectors who faced being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

In response to the latest rebuff by the Supreme Court, the men's lawyer and a political support group are appealing to Canada's Conservative government to issue a special permit that would allow the men to stay in Canada. But it is far more likely that the Canadian authorities will begin deportation proceedings. At least one of the men faces a court martial and a possible five-year prison sentence if he is returned to the US.

Lee Carter, BBC News, Toronto

Listen to the words

army deserters
people who leave the armed forces without permission

claims for asylum
applications for receiving the right to stay in another country, often for political reasons or because of war

deployed to
sent to serve in

on moral grounds
because of their beliefs in what is good or right and what is bad or wrong

be persecuted
be treated badly

willingly, without being forced to

gave refuge
offered protection (by allowing them to stay in the country)

conscientious objectors
people who refuse to work in the armed forces for moral or religious reasons

here, a rejection of someone who makes a request

a court martial
a trial in a military court for members of the armed forces

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