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Canada arrests 'war criminal' after tip off
Honduran man linked to "special army unit" arrested in disputed policy to more actively involve civilians in detection.
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2011 06:33

Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez was arrested on Friday after civilian tips helped law enforcement locate him [CBSA]

A day after Canada publicly advertised profiles of 30 foreign "war criminals" who had entered the country without documentation and stayed illegally, one person has been arrested.

Canadian authorities said on Friday that immigration officials detained Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez, 44, who is alleged to have been a member of a special army unit in his home country, Honduras.

Police did not elaborate on the nature of the crimes he is accused of committing.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Gonzalez-Ramirez made a refugee claim in 2006, but the Immigration and Refugee Board declared him inadmissible to Canada a year later.

He was scheduled to be deported in March 2010 but then disappeared.

Officials have already started taking steps to have Gonzalez-Ramirez deported, Kenney said.

On Thursday, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) published the photos, names and profiles of 30 people accused of committing or being accomplices to war crimes, asking Canadians to "help canadians to enforce canada's immigration laws".

Kenney said Gonzalez-Ramirez was taken into custody by CBSA officers after several tips from the public after launching the website, addding that leads were also coming in on other cases.

"Their information really can help us to resolve some of these long-standing cases," he said in Montreal.

'Witch hunt'

Canada's CBC News reported that outsourcing the search for the alleged criminals has come under sharp criticism.

Dan Bohbot, a Quebec immigration lawyer, said that publicising the suspect's profiles removes the presumption of innocence, as is required under Canadian law, adding that an alarmist public response could amount to "a witch hunt".

Another lawyer, Raoul Boulakia, said he had represented one of the men on the list in a Canadian federal court, but the man had never been linked to any crime.

Rather, he was not allowed legal migration because he at one point was a part of an organisation that committed human rights abuses in his home country, Boulakia said.

"What the government says about these people is very extreme and, I don't know all 30 cases, but I do know about the one case that I dealt with that it's just not accurate," he said.

Just days earlier, Kenney said the government would revoke the citizenship of at least 1,800 people who allegedly used fraudulent means to obtain citizenship status.

Canada has, on average, allowed 254,000 new permanent residents into the country each year over the past five years, said Kenney.

However, in 2010, the number hit 280,000, the highest total since 1957.

Source:
Agencies
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