Haven and Normalcy for War Criminals
"Destruction of property, torture, sexual violence toward women and minors was widespread and systematic during these operations [Guatemalan military massacres, 1982]."
"The members of the special forces group killed their victims by hitting them on the head with a sledgehammer, by hitting their heads on a tree, by shooting them, or by slitting their throats.''
"In other cases, victims were simply thrown into the well while they were still alive.''
"[In supervising the killings at the well, he mocked subordinates] who showed any hesitation to commit the murders.''
"It is difficult for this court to comprehend the murderous acts of depraved cruelty on the scale disclosed by the evidence."
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
|People carry coffins containing remains of victims of a massacre that took place in 1982 to a ceremony in 2015. Only the remains of 21 people were identified through DNA tests and returned to their families, while the other 60 unidentified remains were buried in unnamed graves, according to local media. (Photo: Jorge Lopez/Reuters|
When applying for entry to Canada through the immigration process, applicants are questioned to determine whether they are admissible; any kind of criminal activity or membership in a military group in countries where human rights have been abused are considered to be disqualifiers. Canadian citizenship applicants are expected to disclose all background information of their prior activities and if at any time in the years following it is discovered that their background information, if disclosed would have disqualified them, their citizenship can be revoked under Canadian law.
Canada has had more than its share of human-rights abusers, criminals, former military from countries which have engaged in brutal treatment of their citizens, immigrate to Canada under false pretenses. Infamously, Nazi war criminals have lived out their lives in peaceful anonymity as landed immigrants and citizens in Canada when in reality the genocidal crimes they were engaged in should have denied them the privilege of living quietly in a country of refuge, escaping penalties for their crimes
Canada took it upon itself more latterly to prosecute a Rwandan war criminals who had shielded himself from knowledge of his past, until a former victim recognized him and informed authorities, leading to his arrest and life imprisonment. It is known that Canada unwittingly harbours criminals who had taken part in atrocities against civilians in their countries of origin. Estimates range from fifty such people up beyond one thousand, whose presence has not yet been identified, from South Asia, Latin America and Yugoslavia among other places.
The most recent incident of Canada stripping citizenship from an immigrant is a man who has been accused of slaughtering Guatemalan villagers, with the use of a grenade, gun and sledgehammer. The role that Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes played in a 1982 massacre was withheld when he applied for citizenship in 1992 in Canada. Now 59, he is serving a ten-year sentence in the United States for immigration fraud. The man held citizenship in the U.S. as well, until its revocation in 2014.
The Guatemalan military junta set out on a campaign that destroyed 440 villages, in the process slaughtering over 75,000 people, displacing a quarter-million more. A village would be circled, sealed off, the people gathered and the men and women separated. And then the slaughter took place.
As a senior member of a military special forces group leading a mission to the village of Las Dos Erres, he set out to interrogate villagers on the pretext they were involved in stealing military rifles when a guerrilla ambush of troops had occurred.
An estimated 152 civilians were killed, among them 67 children. Women were raped, children were thrown into an 180-metre dry well. When they cried out for help, a former fellow Guatemalan soldier serving under Orantes testified that as leader he had stilled the cries by throwing a grenade into the well. He has denied all charges against him, denying responsibility, denying that he had ever been in the village.
|Relatives of the victims of the slaughter in Dos Erres form the word 'Justice' with flowers outside the Supreme Court on August 2, 2011, in Guatemala City before the trial of military men involved. (Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty)|
The man had been denied asylum when he left Guatemala to arrive in California in 1985. He went then to Canada where he was granted refugee status, and later became a citizen. Eventually he married an American woman, moved back to the United States and there obtained citizenship in 2008, before his role in Guatemala's massacres of villagers was revealed. By 2010 his identity had been realized, and the U.S. charged him with immigration fraud.
In 2011 he was arrested in Lethbridge, Alberta and extradited to the United States to face trial. At this juncture, it is his Canadian citizenship that is in question, and none too soon.
|Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes was extradited to the U.S. from Canada following his arrest in Alberta in 2011. He is currently serving a 10-year sentence for immigration fraud. (AP / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)|