The Conservative government’s new “most-wanted” list of alleged fugitive war criminals has yielded tips that have resulted in two arrests in two days.
On Saturday evening, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement that a fugitive Pakistani, Arshad Muhammad, was arrested in Canada. The minister did not release any details of the case, but said “those who have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity will find no haven on our shores; they will be located, and they will face the consequences.”
On Friday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had announced Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez, formerly of a special army unit in Honduras, was taken into custody in Alberta.
In just a few days, the government’s naming and shaming of the 30 fugitives has proven to be a controversial – and effective – way to resolve deportation cold cases.
Most of the files appear to involve asylum seekers with potentially violent pasts – personal histories that judges concluded made them inadmissible to Canada.
The Canada Border Services Agency, the federal agency in charge of deportations, had apparently lost track of the individuals as deportation orders were issued. Turning to the public for help in resolving these cold cases, the CBSA created a list highlighting the identities of its most wanted targets.
Such lists are far more common in the United States than in Canada. The list of alleged war criminals was announced Thursday. It describes the foreigners as priority targets who “violated human or international rights” in their homelands.
The Tories’ tough-on-immigration-cheats messaging mirrors the anti-crime pronouncements that helped the party gain majority status during May’s federal election. Last week, the Conservatives also announced plans to strip citizenship from 1,800 Canadians who are alleged to have obtained their citizenship under false pretences.
Refugee lawyers have taken issue with the list of alleged war criminals, pointing out many individuals on it have never been charged criminally nor have they been found to be individually responsible for alleged war crimes.
Many were ordered kicked out of Canada after admitting to authorities that they had been affiliated with repressive and violent groups in their homelands.