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No One Is Illegal

The No One is Illegal campaign is in full confrontation with Canadian colonial border policies, denouncing and taking action to combat racial profiling of immigrants and refugees, detention and deportation policies, and wage-slave conditions of migrant workers and non-status people.

We struggle for the right for our communities to maintain their livelihoods and resist war, occupation and displacement, while building alliances and supporting indigenous sisters and brothers also fighting theft of land and displacement.

contact NOII-Van:
email: noii-van@resist.ca
tel: 604-682-3269 +7149

 
 

ADRIAN DRAGAN: STATELESS AND IMPRISONED

ADRIAN DRAGAN: STATELESS AND IMPRISONED

ROMA REFUGEE IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AND ON HUNGER STRIKE

Adrian Dragan, a Roma refugee that has been held for 16 months awaiting removal to Romania, has been put into solitary confinement at Fraser Pre-trial in Coquitlam, BC after refusing to sign documents that he is willing to return to Romania.

He is a Roma (also known as "Gypsy") and faces serious danger and repression if removed to Romania, where Roma people are regularly attacked and persecuted. In fact, Adrian renounced his citizenship in Romania in 1993 to condemn the racism against Roma there, and since he does not have formal citizenship, he is now being held in jailed limbo, without rights as a citizen in either Canada or Romania.

Canada has already tried once to send Adrian to Romania, but he was refused at the Romanian border. Dragan said he didn’t want to enter. Since he is no longer a citizen of Romania, it would have been against international law to force him to enter, so he was sent back to Canada and now in continued detention by Immigration Canada.

As a stateless citizen, Dragan has no homeland and no country of residence. As a signatory of the United Nations’ 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Canada has an international duty to accept and protect stateless people.

Call, write or fax (see sample letter below) and demand that
- Adrian’s documents be returned to him
- Adrian be released from solitary confinement and not be repressed for asserting his rights as an aslyum seeker by refusing to sign documents that state he is willing to be deported to Romania
- Canada live up to its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1978) and not deport him to Romania unless the government can guarantee Adrian's complete citizenship rights, safety and freedom in Romania.


For more information contact
No One is Illegal Vancouver: noii-van@resist.ca or call (604) 682-3269 x 7149
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty: ocap@tao.ca or call (416) 925-6939

 


SAMPLE LETTER:

Ardith Watson, Director of Programs
North Fraser Pre-trial Center
1451 Kingsway, Port Coquitlam
BC, V3C 1S2
Fax: 604-468-3556
Telephone: 604-468-3500 x 0

Peter Lundy
Deputy Director, Central Europe Dept
Foreign Affairs Canada
613-996-7800

Romanian Consulate
111 Peter St.
Toronto, ON M5V 2H1
Phone: 416/585-5802
Fax:  416/585 4798

Judy Sgro, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
Fax: 613 947 8319, Tel: 613 992 7774
E-mail: Minister@cic.gc.ca

Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
c/o Solicitor General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
Fax: 613 990-9077, Tel: 613 991 2924
E-mail: McLellan.A@parl.gc.ca


Adrian Dragan, a Roma refugee that has been held for 16 months awaiting removal to Romania, has been put into solitary confinement at Fraser Pre-trial in Coquitlam, BC after refusing to sign documents that he is willing to return to Romania. He is currently on hunger strike in protest of his continuing treatment by the Canadian government.

He is a Roma (also known as "Gypsy") and faces serious danger and repression if removed to Romania, where Roma people are regularly attacked and persecuted. In fact, Adrian renounced his citizenship in Romania in 1993 to condemn the racism against Roma there, and since he does not have formal citizenship, he is now being held in jailed limbo, without rights as a citizen in either Canada or Romania.

Canada has already tried once to send Adrian to Romania, but he was refused at the border and sent back to Canada, to continued detention by Immigration Canada.

On behalf of Adrian, I demand that all of Adrian’s documents that were confiscated be returned to him, that Adrian not be compelled in any way to sign documents that state that he is willing to be returned to Romania, and that Adrian be release from solitary confinement immediately.

I find it deplorable that Canada would treat asylum seekers in such a manner: placing them under duress in order to compel them to “agree” to be deported.   Canada must live up to its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and not deport him to Romania unless the government can guarantee Adrian's complete citizenship rights, safety and freedom in Romania.

Sincerely,

 
Media
1) Vancouer Sun article
2) Terminal City article

Criminal, rejected by Romania, stuck in B.C.
Even Paul Martin is embroiled in stateless man's dilemma

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun
October 1, 2004

Canada has become the reluctant host of a man living in Vancouver who is at the centre of a top-level diplomatic row between Ottawa and Romania after he was deported on July 22.

Romania refused to accept Adrian Ion Dragan, 48, and returned him to Canada -- where his refugee claim has been refused -- leaving him stateless and in legal limbo.

The wrangle over the large, bearded former Romanian's fate has reached the top level of both country's governments -- Prime Minister Paul Martin recently met Romanian President Ion Iliescu to discuss the case.

Dragan has been in custody in the Vancouver area for the past 14 months.

He has criminal convictions in Germany and Canada. In B.C., he was recently convicted of fraud, uttering a forged document and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

Although he came to Canada in 1995 and regularly reported to immigration authorities for some time, he was detained in July 2003 after he failed to report and failed to notify immigration authorities of a change of address.

He was arrested in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 20, 2003, and was returned to B.C. to face outstanding charges in Victoria -- he had been charged with two counts of sexual assault. But those charges were stayed shortly before he was removed from Canada and flown to Romania on July 22.

When he arrived in Romania, authorities there asked if he wanted to remain in the country. Dragan replied, "No," so he was refused entry. He was returned to Canada on July 24.

Dragan became classified as a stateless person in 1993 when he renounced his Romanian citizenship while living in Germany.

He had sought refugee status in Canada because he is a Roma -- a Gypsy -- and claims he will suffer discrimination if deported to Romania.

Canada rejected his refugee claim in 1999. Since then, he has been allowed to continue living temporarily in Canada, but was never issued a work permit. Now, no one seems to want him.

Details of the prime minister's meeting with Iliescu, who came to Canada for an official visit on Sept. 17 and 18, emerged this week at Dragan's immigration detention hearing in Vancouver.

Carla Medley, a hearings officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, entered copies of two e-mails as exhibits at Dragan's detention hearing on Wednesday.

One of the e-mails, obtained by The Vancouver Sun, was sent on Wednesday to Medley from Ron Parent, assistant manager of investigations and removals with Immigration Inland Enforcement, a division of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The e-mail said: "Carla, I just spoke to Peter Lundy with Foreign Affairs Canada who informed me of the following: The Prime Minister discussed the case with the Romanian president for approximately 10-15 minutes on the subject of Dragan; The PM was evidently very forceful in his position that this was an important issue that, if left unresolved, will affect bilateral relations with Romania."

The e-mail added that Dragan had sent a 50-page letter about his status to the Romanian president and Romania's ambassador has requested a meeting with Canadian foreign-affairs officials.

Another e-mail sent by Michel Cote, a removals liaison officer with CBSA, said: "I am sure that officials in Romania are talking about this case and that the minister [of immigration, Judy Sgro] who gave approval to return him...is getting some feedback to be politically correct."

The e-mail added: "CBSA also sent a FYI document all the way to [Public Safety] Minister Anne McLellan."

"This type of diplomatic effort is probably unprecedented," Medley told Dragan's hearing. "There is a continued effort to obtain travel documents from Romania."

Dragan's detention hearing -- he is required by law to have one every 30 days -- resulted in Otto Nupponen, a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, deciding that Dragan should remain in custody until his next detention hearing on Oct. 26 in Vancouver.

Nupponen had ordered Dragan to be removed from the hearing on Wednesday when he began shouting "Lies, lies." Dragan was escorted out wearing shackles.

"Dragan feels he's been mistreated by Canadian immigration," Vancouver lawyer Peter Leask, who is representing Dragan, said after the hearing.

"What Mr. Dragan's case is really about is: Do stateless people have rights in this country?" the lawyer said on Thursday. "Mr. Dragan is convinced they do."

Leask maintains his client should be released because he is stateless and there is no reason to further detain him after Romania refused to accept him.

When Nupponen was rendering his oral decision to continue detaining Dragan and mentioned the German convictions, the burly Dragan stood up and began shouting "Lies. Lies upon lies," which prompted his removal from the hearing room.

The immigration and refugee board member noted that while the government is working on removing Dragan to Romania, there may be another route to remove the man from Canada.

 


Romanian On Ice
Adrian Dragan gets the Canadian shaft
Thu., Sep. 30th 2004

In a small and cramped visiting booth at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, Adrian Dragan pulls up his shirt to show the scars on his chest. The burly and bearded 48-year-old man says it’s the work of the Romanian police, who tied him to a heater one night when he was 16 and beat him until he pissed himself. It is a night he will never forget.
“What I can not forget is when the police forced my mother to wash my urine which was mixed with blood and I watch the tears in her eyes,” says an emotional Dragan.

Dragan lived under the brutal dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, and being a Roma made him a marked target in his country. In the visitor’s booth at North Fraser, Dragan is bursting with frustration. His English is broken, but his points are clear. He says he has been treated as an outcast his whole life.

“I grew up in a Roma family. I grew up having every time, all the time, questions in my mind, ‘Why I’m called gypsy, why I’m discriminated, or why the food is not enough on our table and why I’m put to sit on the back of the bench while I was in school?’ All of those things in the mind of a child become a nightmare,” he says.

All across Eastern Europe Romani people have faced extreme brutality and oppression at the hands of their governments. They are often segregated into ghettos, denied access to education and generally treated as second-class citizens. Human rights organisations and the European Union have continued to scold Romania for its treatment of Romani people, despite the end the communist regime.

Dragan’s effort to leave Romania has resulted in him becoming one of Canada’s most controversial refugee cases. Dragan renounced his Romanian citizenship and in 1993 he effectively became stateless. The Canadian government has refused to accept this status and has tried everything in the book to send him back to Romania. Dragan says Canada has an obligation under international law to allow him to stay. The situation escalated to the point where Canada illegally attempted to deport him back to Romania last July, only to have him turned away at the border and sent back. Dragan now waits at North Fraser where he continues to fight for his right to stay in Canada.

Dragan has been detained for over 14 months and is locked up on a deportation order for what appears to be an indefinite period of time. The Canadian government has given no indication that his status will be resolved any time soon and will not release him on the charge that he is a flight risk–an accusation that Dragan, his lawyers and refugee advocacy groups across Canada say is baseless.

“Canada should release him because he’s stateless and there’s no where they can return him,” says Mac Scott, a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which represented Dragan while he was detained in Niagara. “Canada is not only spurning the United Nations convention it signed on the status of stateless people, but by its own law, it can’t reasonably detain him.”

Since Dragan arrived in Canada in August 1995, the Canadian government has denied his refugee claim on the grounds that he did not face persecution in Romania because of his ethnicity and has refused to recognise his statelessness. But after almost ten years in Canada with no official status, the Canadian government attempted to deport Dragan to Romania on July 22 in what appears to be a clear violation of international conventions and treaties and an infringement upon his rights. In the process, Canada has also gotten itself entangled in a high-level, embarrassing diplomatic dispute with the Romanian government.
The Dragan’s Tale

Because of the ethnic discrimination he faced, Dragan left his home country in 1991 and renounced his Romanian citizenship. It is a process that is rarely granted without the person having citizenship in another country. After fighting the Romanian government in the courts for a year-and-a-half, on 6 April 1993 Romania accepted Dragan’s request and he officially became stateless. The event marked the end to his long and troubled history in Romania, but started a new chapter of turmoil and uncertainty. As a stateless citizen, Dragan has no homeland and no country of residence.

Dragan declared refugee status when he arrived in Canada, hoping that he would be given protection. As a signatory of the United Nations’ 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, Canada has an international duty to accept and protect stateless people. The convention was drawn up after the Second World War to deal with the problem of the thousands of stateless people that the war created. Today there are a few thousand stateless people, the most prominent being Palestinians born in refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.

But Canada does not recognise Dragan’s statelessness on the grounds that he should not have been allowed to become stateless since Article 7, subsection 1.a of the 1961 convention states, “renunciation shall not result in loss of nationality unless the person concerned possesses or acquires another nationality.” But there are also a number of articles in the conventions under which Dragan does qualify as a stateless person. Most importantly, however, it is clear that Romania does not recognise him as a citizen.

“Pursuant to the Romanian and international laws, the stateless person Adrian Dragan has no more legal connection with Romania. The position of Romania in this case is consistent with the UN Conventions and Resolutions which Romania is party to,” wrote the Ambassador of Romania, Liviu Maior, in an email to TCW.

The dispute over Dragan climaxed when Canada put him on a plane to Romania in July with two RCMP officers and an immigration officer. According to documents obtained by TCW, officials within Customs and Immigration Canada say they believed they had an agreement with the Romanian government that Dragan would be accepted. However, that turned out to be far from the case. After a stopover in Amsterdam, Dragan and the guards reached Romania and were refused entry. The reason was simple: Dragan said he didn’t want to enter. Since he is no longer a citizen of Romania, it would have been against international law to force him to enter. Cpl. Mark AppleJohn, one of the two RCMP guards with Dragan, says the Romanian government then “unceremoniously” put the Dragan and the officers back on a flight back to Canada.

The attempt to illegally deport Dragan was an embarrassing failure for Canada. It appears as though documents sent to Canada by the Romanian government may have been poorly translated by Canadian officials, which resulted in some kind of incompetent misunderstanding. Dragan could understand the documents and knew his deportation was illegal. The only way Romania could have legally taken Dragan is if he himself accepted and agreed to the conditions–a position he has continuously refused–or if Canada expelled him, which would be a violation of the UN statelessness conventions.

But Canada’s ordeal with international laws did not stop there. On the way back from Romania to Canada, Dragan and company had to stop over in Amsterdam again and answer to some surprised Dutch officials. According to Dragan, Dutch officials were displeased with the Canadian officials for not fully disclosing Dragan’s status. As a stateless person, Dragan may have been able to declare refugee status in Holland when they touched down for the stopover and he therefore would have then become the responsibility of the Dutch government.

A Customs and Immigration Canada spokeswomen would not comment on Dragan’s case to confirm these events, but Cpl. Applejohn says that Dragan’s status did become an issue for the Dutch authorities. He says eventually the matter was resolved in a few hours and since Dragan did not declare refugee status, there was no problem. Two days later Dragan and the Canadian immigration officials returned to Vancouver and Dragan was locked back up at North Fraser. Dragan and his lawyer are now trying to argue that the failed deportation should send Canada a message that it has to change its position.

“The behaviour of the Canadian Immigration authorities in the last month is not defensible, is not understandable, is not a good faith effort to resolve this matter,” said Dragan’s lawyer Peter Leask at a detention hearing two days after Dragan’s return to Canada.

The Canadian government is currently negotiating with the Romanians again to try and see if they can make a new deal. The likelihood seems slim, as Romania remains steadfast in its position. Meanwhile the Canadian government has tried to keep this matter under wraps. In an email obtained by TCW, Ron Parent, the manager for investigations and removals with the Canada Border Services Agency wrote that Dragan’s case, “has the potential to cause embarrassment at the highest political levels if brought up in September by the PM/Deputy PM, and the possibility of this being done may lead to increased efforts to resolve the matter in a manner to our satisfaction.” Neither government could confirm whether Dragan’s case was discussed between Prime Minister Paul Martin and the President of Romania, Ion Iliescu, when Iliescu came to Canada for an official visit on September 17 and 18.
Denied and Detained

As government officials deliberate his case, Dragan looks set for a long detention. Having already served 14 months in prison, Dragan says the Canadian government now has no grounds to keep him locked up and should let him go. At July’s detention hearing Leask told the adjudicator, “I urge you to find Canada Immigration has no reasonable prospect of removing Mr. Dragan from Canada and, if that’s so, there is no proper basis for detaining Mr. Dragan in custody to away his removal.”

Canadian immigration officials, however, argue that Dragan is a flight risk and have said that he won’t appear for his removal if released from prison. The basis of this claim is that after years of reporting to immigration authorities every month Dragan began to miss a number of scheduled appointments as he moved around Canada. However, he did report to officials at later times. Dragan says he became frustrated with the government, which was doing nothing to help him. Unable to break out of a state of flux, or even get permission to work, he began to float on his own.

Immigration Canada has also argued that Dragan’s criminal record leads them to believe he might be a danger to the public. It is an issue that has dogged him since his arrival to Canada. He was convicted of a few minor crimes in Germany in 1991, where he made a failed refugee claim after first leaving Romania. However, in his most serious conviction, assault to cause harm, Dragan says he was tried and convicted in absentia, since he was in a hospital at the time. Unable to defend himself, he says this was a wrongful conviction.

Dragan has also been convicted of a few minor charges in BC, all of them minor and non-violent. Those convictions include forging a document and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. Another, more serious charge, of sexual assault in 2002 was later stayed by crown counsel in order to deport him. The government has decided that upon his return to Canada it will not reinstate the charges. Leask has said that the lack of a serious conviction means he is not a risk to the public and that he should be released. Dragan says immigration officials are only using the charges as a cover.

“They punish me because they are ignorant in knowing the international law, they punish me because the human rights allow me to do such things, they punish me because they violate the Canadian charter,” says Dragan.

Gregory Bruce, who represented Dragan when he was making a refugee claim, says that the Canadian government is punishing him for being a non-conformist. He says the system has failed Dragan and has only pushed him further through the cracks of society.
Dragan’s next detention hearing was on September 29 after TCW’s deadline. After ten years of waiting, the Canadian government can no longer allow Dragan to remain in a state of flux and indefinite detention. It has to recognise his statelessness and deal with his status in the proper legal environment that abides by Canadian and international law and respects his rights and Canada’s international obligations. Failure to do so would only give Canada a black mark in a very important and dramatic case.