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Bonifance Muwonge, 43, could be removed from the country in just a few days, despite playing a crucial role in the recovery of a police officer who had been stabbed in the neck. A Toronto man who put his own safety on the line to help save the life of a police officer is now facing deportation from Canada.
Muwonge fled from Uganda in 2018 after facing persecution for being bisexual. According to a 2021 report by Amnesty International, Uganda’s penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct, and members of the LGBTQ community face frequent violence and arbitrary arrest. Despite fleeing to Canada for safety, Muwonge’s refugee claim was denied in 2021 and he has been trying to seek permanent residency in Canada through a humanitarian and compassionate application.
You don’t sleep…. You have that fear because someone is taking you back where you ran fearing for your life.– Bonifance Muwonge
Toronto police have written a letter corroborating Muwonge’s story and attesting to his support of the Canadian criminal justice system. Despite this, Muwonge was told to buy a ticket back to Uganda by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and report to their office. Muwonge’s lawyer has provided the CBSA with a letter from police as well as a letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General indicating Muwonge may be needed for a possible trial, but there has been no word back from the CBSA yet.
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The CBSA has stated that it has a legal obligation to remove all foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and that a humanitarian and compassionate grounds application does not automatically stop a deportation. The CBSA also stated that in situations where someone is expected to be required for an upcoming trial, the CBSA would speak with the “appropriate stakeholders” to determine if there are grounds for a statutory stay.
Executive director of the advocacy group Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Syed Hussan, argues that permanent residence status should not be a reward for services rendered, but rather a right for those who have been contributing to Canadian communities and economies. Hussan says Muwonge is one of half a million people in Canada living undocumented and facing daily threats of arrest and deportation.
As Muwonge waits for a decision, he lives with the fear of being taken back to a country where he fled for safety. The threat of deportation looms with each passing hour, leaving him unable to sleep or plan for the future.
Credit: Shanifa Nasser/ CBC News.