Canada rejects Iraqi man’s refugee claim because he was a ‘senior official’ under Saddam Hussein
Stewart Bell | January 20, 2016 3:06 PM ET
TORONTO — A man who came to Canada after fleeing the conflict in Iraq has been identified by federal immigration authorities as a former “senior official” in the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Faisal Abdulhaleem Ali Al-Ani arrived in Canada in 2013 but the Immigration and Refugee Board rejected his refugee claim because he had been a Brigadier General in Saddam’s army.
He was deemed inadmissible to Canada on the grounds he had been a senior member of a government that engaged in systematic human rights violations and crimes against humanity.
He feared persecution as a Sunni Muslim with a past association to the former military of Saddam Hussein
In a decision posted on the Federal Court of Canada website on Wednesday, Al-Ani’s appeal of the ruling was dismissed by Justice Simon Fothergill. The case was heard in Vancouver.
Under Canada’s war crimes program, senior members of regimes that engaged in gross human rights violations are barred from Canada. Ottawa has designated the Iraqi government of 1968 to 2003 one such regime.
Now 82, Al-Ani joined the Iraqi armed forces in 1954, four years before the military coup that overthrew the monarchy. As a lieutenant colonel, he served as commander of the Iraqi Infantry’s Third Battalion.
He remained in the military after the Baathists seized power in 1968, when Saddam became vice president. He was promoted to Brigadier in 1978, the year Saddam took over as president.
“During his career he was asked to join Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, but refused,” the judge wrote. “At a time when non-Baathist members were being purged from the military, Mr. Al-Ani was forced to retire or was temporarily released.”
He fled Iraq “because he feared persecution as a Sunni Muslim with a past association to the former military of Saddam Hussein” and made a refugee claim in Canada in February 2014.
Although he argued he was not an influential member of the regime, the IRB found he met the definition of a “senior official” because he was within the “top half of the Iraqi military structure.”