Canada court denies asylum of BNP man

24 February 2017

A Canadian court has denied asylum to a BNP activist for the party's involvement in violence during protests and terrorism.
In the verdict rejecting the BNP man's application for the status of permanent residence (PR) as a protected person, the Federal Court has observed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that his organisation engages, has engaged or will engage in acts of terrorism.
The court included in the observation international media reports, studies and information gathered from the internet on the history of hostility between the two major political parties in Bangladesh, violence during political demonstration like general strike, use of general strike as a weapon to make it difficult for the government to achieve economic targets, and the BNP's involvement in these.
Mohammad Jewel Hossain Gazi, identifying himself as an activist of BNP's affiliate Swechchhasebak Dal from Dhaka's Mirpur, sought PR status and received stage one approval in April, 2015.
At the second stage, security concerns resulted in a delay in processing his application and the applicant was subsequently found inadmissible pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for being a member of the BNP.
Federal Court judge Justice Henry S Brown on Jan 25 this year dismissed his petition for judicial review of the immigration authorities' decision.
The immigration officer in his decision taken in May last year said there are reasonable grounds to believe engagement of Gazi's party the BNP in terrorism.
Thus his "application for PR status as a protected person was rejected on the grounds of inadmissibility pursuant to paragraphs 34(1)(f) [membership] and © [engaging in terrorism] of the IRPA [the Decision]," the verdict said.
According to the paragraphs of the act:   
34 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for
© engaging in terrorism;
(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (b.1) or (c).
The court said it found the officer's decision reasonable and supported by the evidence having regard t the broad definition of terrorism under Canadian law.
The judge later noted that the IRPA does not define terrorism and the officer applied the definition from the Criminal Code.
In the application for judicial review, Gazi claimed that the BNP disavows violence.
"However, I am far from persuaded on this point," the judge observed.
Hundreds of vehicles came under attack during the three-month blockade by the BNP in 2015.
Hundreds of vehicles came under attack during the three-month blockade by the BNP in 2015.
Including in the verdict the violence in protests described by the officer, the court observed that the officer reasonably held: "There is very little evidence that the BNP leadership discouraged the use of violence during these hartals, they only condemned the violence after the fact in some incidences, deflecting the blame directly from them."
"...the only evidence of BNP leadership denouncing violence is a single statement by a party leader made at a time he or she was facing criminal charges for firebombing a bus full of sleeping passengers that killed seven people," it said.
The court quoted the Minister's counsel in the verdict: "Keeping in mind that the BNP is still a legitimate political party in Bangladesh, it would not be in their best interests to publicly appear as if they were intentionally organizing and directing these violent clashes to deliberately cause instability.
"Nevertheless, the BNP's consistent use of hartals and their resulting incidences of violence lead me to believe, on reasonable grounds, that the BNP implicitly condoned the use of violence by their continued use of hartals without discouraging the use of violence by its membership. This is especially true when the hartals were being enforced with the use of violence."
Gazi argued in his application that the Canadian government has not listed the BNP as a Listed Terrorist Entity, which indeed it has not done.
The judge said, "With respect, listing is a different process managed by the Governor in Council (Canadian Cabinet) which counsel indicated may involve political issues.
"I do not accept, nor was it argued, that the absence of listing is conclusive on the issue before the Officer."
The judge dismissed the applicant's argument that the US Immigration Court's analysis and conclusion to the effect that the BNP is not a terrorist entity are persuasive and should be followed in Canada.
The court agreed with the immigration officer's assessment, "emphasized by the applicant, that violence characterizes both political parties" -the BNP and the Awami League - in Bangladesh.
"… politics in Bangladesh is a violent affair," the officer said.
The judge said, "That is, I do find that supporters of both the BNP and the governing party have resorted to violence to influence the public and government in various ways at various times.
"But I do not agree that mutual misconduct immunizes BNP from being considered a terrorist organization under IRPA thereby depriving Canadian immigration authorities of the ability to reject requests for permanent residence status by foreign nationals who are or were BNP party members," he added.

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