I’ve been trying to get a response from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on the impending deportation of Cindor Reeves since Monday. Reeves is the former brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, who brutalized Liberia and, through a proxy army, neighbouring Sierra Leone, for more than a decade. Reeves smuggled guns and diamonds for Taylor before secretly turning against him to cooperate with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is now trying Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague. Reeves asked for and received nothing for his work with the Special Court, which was crucial to building a case against Taylor. His life has been threatened multiple times since, and there is good reason to believe he will be murdered by Taylor loyalists if he is returned to Liberia.
Generally, when this government wants to avoid answering difficult questions, their response to media inquiries follows a predictable pattern. You, as a journalist will never actually talk to someone who will answer your questions. You pose your questions to one person; someone else emails you statements that have little relation to the questions you asked.
Given the injustice and hypocrisy this case entails, as well as the fact that a man’s life may soon end because of the Immigration and Refugee Board’s decision, I had expected something more. I shouldn’t have.
Kenney did not return my calls. After two days of runaround, I eventually got the following email from Esme Bailey, “senior media spokesperson” for the Canada Border Services Agency. Apparently the skills necessary to be a senior media spokesperson at CBSA include cutting and pasting text from years-old press releases, which is what she did. Bailey’s complete response is below.
(I should add that when posing my questions to the spokesperson at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who could not actually answer them, I referred to the “voluminous” evidence of threats to Cindor Reeves’ life, rather than the “luminous” evidence that was recorded. Somehow I doubt Bailey’s response would have been any different had her colleague taken better notes.)
Questions and Answers
Q1. Is the CBSA able to discuss the evidence presented against Cindor Reeves?
A1. Due to privacy, we are unable to discuss the evidence of this specific case.
Q2. Would like Minster Kenney’s reaction to Cindor Reeves case and the IRB decision.
A2. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is operationally responsible for enforcing the terms of Canadian law, including the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the CBSA has a statutory obligation to remove any foreign national or permanent resident who is inadmissible to Canada and has been issued a removal order that is in force. In fact, these removal orders must be enforced as soon as possible, and the CBSA is firmly committed to doing this.
Q3. Why Canada is prepared to deport a man who is largely responsible for Charles Taylor being on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Hague through the special court for Sierra Leone, which Canada has funded with millions of dollars.
A3. Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal.
Canada has an internationally recognized system to prevent people who have been involved in organized crime, terrorist organizations, war crimes or crimes against humanity from having access to our refugee determination program.
Individuals who have committed or who are complicit in the commission of a war crime, a crime against humanity, genocide, or any other reprehensible act, regardless of when or where these crimes occurred, are not welcome in Canada.
Canada will not be a safe haven for individuals who have participated in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Canada has a number of remedies to take action against these individuals, which include denial of visas abroad, exclusion from refugee protection in Canada, criminal prosecution, revocation of citizenship, removal, extradition, and surrender to an international tribunal. CBSA works with its partners in the Coordinated War Crimes Program, which was established in 1998, to determine which remedy is the most appropriate in each case.
When an individual is found to be excluded from refugee protection, they are then subject to a removal order. Prior to removal, individuals may apply for a pre-removal risk assessment to ascertain risk upon return to the country of origin.
Q4. How Canada can expect other potential witnesses to major war crimes cases to cooperate with the international community, given how Canada is treating a prime witness, Cindor Reeves, in the case of Charles Taylor?
A4. Please contact the Department of Justice at 613-957-4207.
Q5. Is Minister Kenney bothered by the luminous evidence of threats to Cindor Reeves life, should he be returned to Liberia? Why are we deporting him?
A5. Canada will not be a safe haven for individuals who have participated in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal. Prior to removal, individuals may apply for a pre-removal risk assessment to ascertain risk upon return to the country of origin.