This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Taking Citizenship Lightly

"[Vujicic] failed to disclose his conviction for manslaughter in his application for permanent residence, knowing that he had been found guilty and sentenced for that offence in 1998."
"His conduct is consistent with an intention to deceive Canadian immigration officials."
Federal Court Justice James O'Reilly
Bozidar Vujicic arrived in 2002 and was granted permanent residence status and then Canadian citizenship. He swore his citizenship oath in 2006.  John Moore / The Canadian Press
Failure to disclose a criminal record when applying for a visa to enter Canada leading to residency and Canadian citizenship is grounds for revocation of that citizenship and removal from the country. The Federal Court of Canada ruled that Bozidar Vujicic, a resident of British Columbia, fraudulently obtained residency through the concealing of his conviction of manslaughter. He had shot another man in the heart during a drunken brawl that turned deadly, in Bosnia.

Bosnian Vujicic took steps to apply for permanent residency to Canada in 1999 while in his country of origin. When his application was reviewed by immigration officials who interviewed the man, no mention was made that he had been found guilty of murder and was awaiting the next move of the justice system on his sentence. Immigration officials granted him permission to move to Canada where he arrived in 2002 and was granted permanent residence status followed by Canadian citizenship in 2006.

After the passage of three years, officials came into possession of information about Mr. Vujicic's background in Bosnia, information that caused them to begin the process of citizenship revocation. Translated court records derived from Serbia describing a drunken brawl that took place in southern Serbia in 1995, in Leskovac were examined by the Federal Court, where Vujicic was named as being one of several men involved in a violently lethal episode.

Named as an instigator of a nighttime fight with a number of other men, some later charged along with him, Vujicic had been drinking heavily on that occasion. Evidence from Serbia did not excuse charges of manslaughter levelled against Vujicic on the basis of his inebriated state, holding rather that his level of intoxication was not seen as preventing him from fully understanding the significance of his actions.

As the brawl was proceeding, Vujicic fired a gun in the direction of Dragan Stojanovic. When a bullet hit Stojanovic in the heart, he bled to death, according to court records. The Serbian court rejected Vujicic's claim of self-defence. Forensic evidence relating to the gunshot wound failed to support his explanation of innocence and he was convicted of manslaughter in1994. There was a second conviction after a 1998 retrial, but he was not taken into custody immediately.

When he left court he soon afterward made application to emigrate to Canada. Vujicic claimed the fact he hadn't been taken immediately to prison left him confused, uncertain what had occurred in court, he testified at the recent hearing into his case in Canada. He hadn't 'realized' the court had convicted him of manslaughter, nor was he conscious of any sentencing that would impact on his Canadian citizenship status.

He failed to consider it useful to discuss his uncertainty with his trial lawyer, choosing instead to come to Canada. Presenting two official certificates both of which indicated he had no criminal convictions against him; one from Bosnia, the second from Montenegro -- neither from Serbia where his conviction took place -- he had been accepted into Canada.

He thought, he claimed, that the certificates were ample confirmation that he had not been convicted. Nor that he had to serve the 8-year prison sentence brought down by the Bosnian court.

Bozidar VujicicBozidar Vujicic, School of Engineering Science
Simon Fraser University

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