Hinzman loses second step, now we go to the third

Refusers Seeking Freedom
March 24, 2005

Jeremy Hinzman

More than a year ago Jeremy Hinzman left the Army base in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and drove north with this family to Canada. Hinzman, who had applied for a conscientious objection discharge from the Army, was denied. After this denial, Hinzman decided that leaving for Canada was his only option to escape being re-deployed to Iraq. Hinzman applied with the Canadian government to gain refugee status. In December of 2004 he appeared before the Canadian Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) to plead his case. Hinzman argued that if he were returned to the U.S., the U.S. government would persecute him for his refusal to fight in an “illegal war” in Iraq.

After three months a decision was announced today by Canadian Immigration. Jeremy Hinzman and his family were found “not to be Convention refugees or persons in need of protection and rejected their claims of refugee protection.”[i] The refugee committee decided that the U.S. government or the Military would not persecute Hinzman if he were to return to face a military tribunal. In particular the committee felt the democratic nature of the U.S. government created a heavy burden of proof.

Hinzman will now appeal his claim in the Canadian federal court. When he was asked prior to the decision what will happen if it is denied, Hinzman replied, “I will appeal as many times as possible and, when those are exhausted, apply to be able to stay on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.”


There are now over 50 other U.S. refusers seeking asylum from the U.S. Military in Canada. Brandon Hughey will be next refuser to appear before the Canadian Immigration board to claim a refugee status. Like Jeremy Hinzman, Hughey also claims the war in Iraq to be an illegal operation. Although there is a strong network of support in Canada for those resisting the war, it is expected that Hughey and many others who are in line will face the same fate as Hinzman before the refugee board.

Already the number of those contemplating fleeing to Canada is on the rise and with an increased threat of the military draft Canada will be facing a much larger problem than it is now. These cases of desertion from the U.S. military on the grounds of conscientious objection (CO) are a reflection of a larger problem. Many COs currently face hardships by the military here in the U.S. We must continue in our work to protect and extend the rights of COs. Sign-up now to participate in CCW’s National Lobby-day on May 16th for the rights of conscientious objectors.

For more information on the lobby day visit:

[i] Hinzman Decision,

Yours for Peace and Justice,

Center on Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Ph: 202-483-2220
Fax: 202-483-1246

Join us on May 15 for our Annual Advisory Meeting and
on May 16 for our Anti-Draft/Pro-conscientious Objector Lobby Day


Jeremy Hinzman, his wife, and their son, seek refugee protection in Canada. Mr. Hinzman enlisted in the US military and during his course of training and service gradually came to the conclusion that he could not participate in offensive operations. He sought conscientious objector non-combatant status from the US military while he was deployed in Afghanistan. His application was refused on the basis that he was willing to conduct defensive operations as a combatant, although not willing to conduct offensive operations as a combatant. Mr. Hinzman then resumed his regular military duties and training. When he received notice of his unit’s deployment to Iraq, he left the military without leave and came to Canada with his Family.

Mr. Hinzman claims that he is a conscientious objector. He fears that as a result of his desertion from the US military, he will be prosecuted and any punishment he faces as a result would be persecution for following his conscience. He also asserted that his likely sentence as a result of a court martial would amount to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Counsel to the Solicitor General of Canada (“S-G”) argued that Mr. Hinzman had a heavy legal burden to overcome in establishing his claim since the US is a democratic state. In addition, the S-G submitted that Mr. Hinzman does not meet the criteria of a conscientious objector. The S-G also asserted that Mr. Hinzman failed to demonstrate that the punishment he would likely receive for desertion from the US military would be excessive and amount to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

The Refugee Protection Division (“RPD”) found Mr. Hinzman, his wife and son not to be Convention refugees or persons in need of protection and rejected their claims for refugee protection.

The RPD found that the claimants would be afforded the full protection of a fair and independent military and civilian judicial process in the U.S. As a result they had not rebutted the presumption of state protection and their claims for refugee protection must fail. The RPD also dealt with other matters in the public interest as they had been raised, including that Mr. Hinzman was not a conscientious objector and that the punishment Mr. Hinzman would likely receive as a result of his desertion was not excessive or disproportionately severe.

With respect to the claims of Mr. Hinzman’s wife and son, the RPD found that there was no evidence to support their claim that they would face a serious possibility of persecution in the US as a result of being part of Mr. Hinzman’s family, nor was there any evidence to support their claim that they would face serious harm as a result of any punishment Mr. Hinzman may receive as a result of his desertion from the US military.

I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more
if only they knew they were slaves. - Harriet Tubman

No comments: