A 25-year-old man facing deportation to Myanmar has been granted ministerial permission to remain in Canada.
Nay Myo Hein, a former child soldier, had been ordered to return to his home country despite concerns he could face serious harm because he deserted the army a decade ago. On Friday, Hein had exhausted all formal procedures to avoid deportation, which was set to take place on August 18.
However, on Saturday, two federal ministers intervened. Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan ordered officials not to implement the deportation order. Immigration Minister Jason Kenny granted Hein a temporary permit allowing him to reside in Canada while he seeks permanent residency status.
"Granting the temporary resident permit (also known as a "ministerial permit") will ensure that Mr. Hein does not have to return to Burma and can remain in Canada," an official said in a release issued Saturday.
"Today's decision puts Mr. Hein on the pathway to full Canadian citizenship," Alykhan Velshi, the ministry spokesman, continued.
"Burma is one of the world's most odious, closed, and repressive regimes. The junta's continued existence is an offense to basic principles of human rights."
Supporters of Hein welcomed the intervention.
Kevin McLeod, Canadian Friends of Burma board member, was one of the people who lobbied on Hein's behalf in Ottawa.
"We're really glad," McLeod told reporters. "We hope that others in his situation will get legal representation from the moment they get to Canada so we don't have to have this last-moment crisis."
Hein had no legal representation at his first hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board.
However, more than a dozen others facing the same fate have not been so fortunate. An official with the Canadian Border Services Agency revealed that 13 refugee claimants over the past five years have been deported to Myanmar.
Ministers step in to halt Myanmar deportation, 18 August 2009,
Child soldier got reprieve, but others still being deported to Myanmar, 18 August 2009,
Former child soldier can stay in Canada, 16 August 2009,