Calgary Imam Faces Potential Deportation Without Evidence of a Crime

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Calgary Imam Faces Potential Deportation Without Evidence of a Crime

Just in case there was any question as to where Canada's immigration policy was headed under this Conservative government—the same government that backed and managed to pass Bill C-51, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015, which places dangerous limits on freedom of expression and action here in Calgary and throughout Canada—an ongoing incident is helping to make everything nice and clear.

Imam Abdi Hersey, 46, is facing potential deportation back to his native Somalia—a country he escaped as a refugee more than a decade ago—for a crime he allegedly committed in the United States and of which Canadian authorities have no evidence. Hersey has not had a trial, in the US or in Canada, has not been able to face his accusers or even the law enforcement officers who have investigated his case, and has essentially been stripped of any rights or options for recourse by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

His case is currently pending before the Federal Court of Canada.

"“The problem is the evidence aspect against Mr. Henry is limited. They only have the criminal complaint and the warrant,” says Hersey's lawyer, Raj Sharma. “The CBSA hasn’t provided witness statements and the criminal complaint officer for cross-examination. The Refugee Protection Division says they don’t need any of that.

“We are about to send someone back to persecution and risk of life based on this! If you’re going to send somebody back where his life is in danger (Somalia), you have to have your ducks in a row and afford due process. Are we OK sending someone back to potential death based on allegations of fondling in the U.S. when Canada doesn’t have any witness statements?”

The facts of the case are this: Hersey is alleged to have fondled to female patients while he was working as a respiratory therapist in Minnesota. He lost his job when the allegations were made and relocated to Calgary, where there has been no indication of any criminal behavior. He was unaware there were even charges laid against him in the US for several years, but went south in 2010 to face trial. After presenting bail in the first stages of the proceeding, he was deported back to Canada, and shortly thereafter his refugee status was revoked and the process of sending him back to Somalia began.

Don't get me wrong: I don't approve of medical professionals fondling their patients, and I'm not making light of the allegations. They are, however, only allegations at this point. No court proceeding or other process has established Hersey's guilt, he has fully complied with all legal requirements, and there appears to be no evidence that any crime was committed—-only allegations. Allegations of a crime that might carry a six-month sentence if Hersey were convicted here in Calgary.

Is that really worth ending the positive and productive life he has built here, and potentially ending his life entirely by sending him back to the persecution and chaos of Somalia?

This is pure fear of outsiders—fear of a black Muslim—and anyone who can't see that is blinding themselves. Our current government is heading ever-further in this direction of fear, isolation, and the reduction of basic rights, and it's something we need to correct soon if we don't want to face severe consequences in the near future.

If you need a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary for any reason, and want to ensure you're working with one who fully understands and respects your rights here in Canada, please contact my office.