From the National Post.
A life spent in limbo
An alleged assassin is in the midst of Canada's most protracted refugee battle
Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Published: Thursday, November 01, 2007
Twenty years ago, Rodolfo Pacificador arrived in Canada at the Niagara Falls border under a cloud, suspected in the assassination of a popular politician in his native Philippines. After several immigration tribunals and umpteen court challenges -- making this Canada's most protracted refugee battle -- Mr. Pacificador remains free in Toronto and has just won another reprieve.
The case of the accused assassin highlights the difficulties of weighing competing claims from abroad and the extensive avenues of appeal available to refugee claimants if they have the wealth to pursue them.
And wealth, Mr. Pacificador and his family had. But despite his family's privileged status in the Philippines, Mr. Pacificador has achieved such titles in Canada as once being the longest-serving inmate in Toronto's Don Jail, where he kept a pet mouse on a string leash. It is not the life he envisioned.
The public's outcry at the Javier murder helped fuel a popular uprising across the Philippines that quickly led to Mr. Marcos being deposed by the "People Power" revolution. Mr. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, fled the country and Ms. Aquino was installed as president.
Mr. Pacificador also fled, travelling to Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States before crossing into Canada on Sept. 29, 1987, and claiming refugee status.
It took a year for his claim in Canada to be heard. The tribunal found he was not a convention refugee. He appealed and his case joined the system's backlog.
Note - This is a classic case of asylum shopping. He had been if four countries prior to his arrival in Canada. Why didn't he make his claims then? He was specifically targeting Canada becuase of our rediculous refugee laws and almost endless appeals.
The Philippine government, meanwhile, was anxious to bring Mr. Pacificador to trial on a murder charge. It provided motivation for the two countries to sign an extradition treaty in 1990. The following year he was arrested on behalf of Manila and a year after that he was ordered extradited.
He was placed in the Don Jail while he fought to remain here, a jail stay that stretched to more than six years during a flurry of lost appeals that worked their way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which declined to hear his case in 1994. The Minister of Justice then ordered his extradition in 1996.
Mr. Pacificador again appealed the order, this time receiving better news. In 1999 an Ontario judge accepted that his right to liberty and security guaranteed under the Charter of Rights would be violated if he were sent home. The decision was largely based on the fact that his several co-accused in the Philippines, including his father, were being held in legal limbo. At the same time, Canada's refugee proceedings were moving forward. Mr. Pacificador was ordered deported because of foreign acts of criminality. He appealed, winning a new hearing in 2001.
Note - Pacificador is not a Canadian citizen yet he received a ruling in his favour becuase his Charter rights would be violated. This is an example of how the Charter has devalued Canadian citizenship by extending almost all the same rights to anyone who has set a foot on Canadian soil. A refugee has all the rights and freedoms a Canadian citizen has except the right to vote.
In 2002, the Immigration and Refugee Board found that he was not excluded from claiming refugee status because of criminality, stating the Filipino case was "badly tainted by corruption and interference." It also ruled, however, that Mr. Pacificador was still not a refugee because he did not have a well-founded fear of persecution. As a man of wealth, the board ruled, he could avoid the torture and harsh conditions of the Filipino judicial system.
The following year, an Ontario judge overturned that decision, calling it "perverse" that a man could be considered safe in a corrupt system just because he would be able to corrupt his jailers to his benefit.
A new refugee hearing in Canada by the IRB looked at the acquittal of his father as evidence that unfair persecution did not await Mr. Pacificador at home.
Mr. Pacificador, however, claimed the acquittal was a clever ploy to convince the Canadians to hand him over. Recently, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the IRB had again erred in its adjudication.
"It was unreasonable for the board to close its eyes to the numerous shortcomings of the Philippine judicial system and to the serious violations of the fundamental rights of the other accused that have marred their trial for the Javier murder, only to assume that the applicant will benefit from the same favourable treatment as his father," Justice Yves de Montigny ruled.
Judge de Montigny ordered the IRB to convene yet another hearing to assess Mr. Pacificador's case. That could take a year.
"It is as if he is starting afresh. Twenty years later, it will be as if he just made his refugee claim today," said Douglas Lehrer, Mr. Pacificador's Toronto immigration lawyer. (Mr. Pacificador declined to be interviewed or photographed for this story.)
Mr. Pacificador has since married in Canada and had a child. The government will wait for the next IRB decision.