Cindor Reeves, a man who risked his life to bring one of the most blood-soaked tyrants of the last 25 years to justice, has left Canada following a deportation order against him.
Reeves was once the brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, a Liberian warlord and then president of the country who is now on trial in The Hague, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Taylor is there in large part because Cindor Reeves helped the Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against him. Reeves did this at great personal risk, and without asking for anything in return. The Special Court put Reeves and his family in a witness protection program in Europe. Unhappy there, Reeves came to Canada and applied for refugee status. When he did so, Reeves lost the protection of the Special Court, which effectively abandoned him.
The Canadian government intervened in Reeves’ case, arguing he should be barred from living here because of his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to suggest that Reeves personally harmed anyone. He helped Taylor smuggle guns and diamonds between Liberia and Sierra Leone. He’s never denied this. Reeves’ application was rejected and he received a removal order last year.
(It’s a long and complicated case. Those unfamiliar with it should scroll through the many stories I’ve written about it these past five years.)
Reeves left Canada on his own accord, before he had played out every card that might have delayed his departure. His wife and children had already been granted refugee status here under the perverse reasoning that their relationship to Reeves made it too dangerous for them to return to Liberia. There was a slim chance that Reeves might have been granted a stay of deportation for similar reasons, but Reeves was convinced this government would not rest until he was gone. He feared being jailed here, or handcuffed and escorted onto a plane. I think he wanted to preserve some dignity and control over his own fate.
No news story I have ever covered — at least in Canada — has more saddened, angered and disillusioned me than this one. Reeves is a good and brave man whose life has been shattered because of government and bureaucratic incompetence and malice. The same goes for his wife and children who must now live without him. It’s a moral stain on this administration and on the civil servants involved.
Oddly, perhaps, Reeves holds no ill will toward Canada or Canadians. In one of our last conversations, he repeatedly said what a great country Canada is and how happy he was that at least his children might live here.
I worry that writing about where Reeves is and where he might be headed might endanger him, so I won’t. I’ll publish more details if this changes.