See this story appeared today in the National Post. I am just wondering how on earth decision-makers who are supposedly trained to apply the law can be so incredibly naive to grant a serial criminal with a history of convictions a "second chance" . This makes absolutely no sense to me. Have IRB decision-makers lost their mind?
Refugee board gave alleged killer chance
Refugee board gave alleged killer chance
Deportation order lifted week before murder
Kim Bolan, Canwest News Service
A week before Babak Najafi Chaghabouri allegedly kidnapped and killed Vancouver resident Ronak Wagad, the Immigration and Refugee Board gave him one last chance to stay in Canada despite a series of convictions.
Mr. Chaghabouri convinced IRB member Renee Miller last Feb. 16 that he was turning his life around even though he had been ordered out of Canada in 2008 because of serious criminality.
On Feb. 23, Mr. Wagad disappeared. The remains of the 31-year-old were found near Chilliwack, B. C., on July 8.
This week Mr. Chaghabouri and Charles Anthony Leslie were charged with Mr. Wagad's first-degree murder, abduction and forcible confinement. Police said the victim and the accused killers were all involved in the mid-level drug trade.
There was no mention of drugs or gangs in Ms. Miller's ruling reversing Mr. Chaghabouri's deportation order, a copy of which was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
She said Mr. Chaghabouri had demonstrated he deserved another chance even though he had a string of convictions between 2003 and 2007 for possession of a weapon, assault and forcible confinement, uttering threats and aggravated assault.
"Ultimately I was convinced that the appellant's prospects for rehabilitation are good," Ms. Miller said.
She cited a violence prevention course done by Mr. Chaghabouri as proof of his commitment to change.
"That course did not appear to have been completely successful because the appellant was involved in a subsequent violent offence while in custody and was convicted of that offence," Ms. Miller said. "However, he did provide evidence that he has competed two other preventative courses. Although I do not have the corroborative evidence, I accept his evidence on that point."
She said he seemed to be in a "stable relationship" and had obeyed all his probation conditions. "He told me that part of the efforts that he has made with regard to his rehabilitation is to avoid contact with the Persian community," Ms. Miller said. "I take the view that the appellant has demonstrated that he has made efforts towards rehabilitation and that there is more than a mere possibility that there is rehabilitation in his future, although clearly it is not complete."
Ms. Miller also said that Mr. Chaghabouri had not relied on welfare, which weighed in his favour. Nor did he explain how he earned a living. "Although his evidence of employment and ability to support himself was minimal, there was no evidence of any reliance on social assistance. However, it is hard to see how he could have supported himself on $3,500 per year," she said.
And Ms. Miller said that if Mr. Chaghabouri were to be deported to his native Iran, he could be in danger.
"There was evidence before me that there is a serious risk to the appellant if he were removed to that country, given his past political involvement in Iran and his current involvement in an organization which advocates for the separation of the Kurdish people from the government of Iran," she said.
The murder charge is not the only new allegation Mr. Chaghabouri has faced since having his deportation order overturned.
He was also convicted in two other cases, including one where he carried a knife and an imitation firearm on April 27.
The weapons charge led the public safety minister back to the IRB in June to get the deportation reinstated.
Mr. Chaghabouri was ordered deported a second time on June 29, just nine days before Mr. Wagad's body was found and three weeks before the murder charge was laid.
Mr. Chaghabouri came to Canada in 2001 at the age of 19 and got refugee status in November of that year.
His first run-ins with the law began two years later.
At one point he fled to Ontario to evade prosecution, Ms. Miller heard. "He may well have had an overpowering fear of the criminal justice system in Canada, but it is not a factor in his favour that he fled responsibilities," she said.
She did warn Mr. Chaghabouri that he had better stay on the straight and narrow. "If you continue on the course that you have been, which involves criminal convictions for violent offences or offences that involve weapons, at some point the balance will tip against you and the potential danger to you in return to Iran and the efforts that you have made to create a stable life for yourself in Canada will no longer outweigh the danger to the Canadian society," she said.
Even though the deportation order was ultimately reinstated, criminal proceedings must be completed before someone is removed from Canada.