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Danger here trumps danger there, court rules as violent refugee deported to Somalia

Monday, May 07, 2012
by Adrian Humphreys

Sharmarke Mohamed was deported to Somalia on April 16, records show.

If Sharmarke Mohamed was from a European country, he would have been booted out of Canada long ago, but because he came here from wartorn Somalia, he has been allowed to linger, causing mayhem through his escalating violence, a Federal Court judge declared before deciding that enough is enough.

Despite Mohamed having been granted refugee protection after fleeing to Canada — and a plea from the United Nations that he not be sent home to “one of the most dangerous places on earth” — his drug and alcohol-fuelled crimes pose such a danger to Canada he must be sent back regardless, Justice Sean Harrington has ruled.

Chief Justice Pierre Blais, of the Federal Court of Appeal, upheld the decision, clearing the way for the controversial deportation of the Vancouver resident.

On April 16, Mohamed was deported, federal records show.

It is unusual for Canada to deport someone to a country where it is clear they might be in significant danger. The rulings make it clear there are limits to that tradition.

“There is a risk to his life [in Somalia]. He is at risk of losing his life in an act of random violence,” Justice Harrington wrote in his decision.

“[But] he has been convicted of various crimes, with greater violence being evident… His anger management issues have been fuelled by drugs and alcohol,” he wrote when rejecting Mohamed’s appeal of his deportation.

“If he had come from, say, Sweden, he would not only have been found inadmissible [under the Immigration Act] for serious criminality, but in all likelihood would have been deported long ago. However, he is a refugee from Somalia and is protected.”


The law allows a few exceptions to the prohibition on sending someone back into danger, including if a person is declared inadmissible to Canada on grounds of serious criminality and also declared a danger to the public. That ignoble status applies to Mohamed, the government said.

The last time Mohamed was in the news, it was under the headline “B.C.’s ten most wanted.” That was in 2003 when he was a fugitive facing assault with a weapon charges. He has since been convicted.

Immigration officials had hoped he had left the violence behind when he came to Canada in 1990 at the age of 27.

His claim for asylum was based on persecution over his political opinion because he opposed the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre, the dictator who ruled Somalia for most of Mohamed’s life.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Mohamed’s settlement in Canada has not been quite peaceful. He got married twice, had two children from each of those marriages, and is now living separate from [both],” Justice Blais wrote in his appeal’s decision. There are court orders, in fact, against him contacting his first wife.

He was convicted of assaulting a roommate with a butcher’s knife, of robbing three banks, assault, assault with weapons, assault causing bodily harm, and other crimes.

Immigration authorities ordered his deportation in 2009, which he fought vociferously.

During a detention review hearing in March, when the Immigration and Refugee Board heard his request to get out of jail while his appeals made their way through court, Mohamed spoke via a videolink from the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre where he was being held.

He showed how acclimatized to Canada he had become.

“I have nothing much to tell you. I’m looking forward to my date in court,” he said, and then cited that his continued detention violated his Charter rights under Section 7, claiming it would “jeopardize” his life and security.

At hearings for Mohamed’s various appeals, court heard Somalia was “a lawless state” where its citizens face routine danger. The government conceded the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a plea that no refugees be sent back there.

But government lawyers also said the regime which Mohamed had opposed has since been overthrown and that the risk he faced was the same as for any citizen of the troubled country.

“Mr. Mohamed’s counsel raised every point which could possibly be raised to support the proposition that his risk was personal,” wrote Justice Harrington. “We are not obliged to keep someone here who is a danger to the public.”

Mohamed’s Vancouver lawyer, Jennifer Godwin Ellis, was not available for comment.


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