Justice for Deepan Campaign Gains Support
Tuesday, January 21, 20140 Comments
Courtesy Justice for Deepan Campaign
Deepan Budlakoti was born in Canada, yet he has been threatened with deportation by the Canadian Government and made a stateless citizen. He visited Guelph last Saturday to share his story and gather support for his campaign: “Justice for Deepan Budlakoti.”
In December, 2009, Budlakoti was convicted of break and entry and sentenced to four months.
“Twenty-two to twenty-three hours in a cell with 2 people, 7 days a week gets to you,” Budlakoti said in an interview with the cannon.ca.
While facing punishment a prison guard asked Budlakoti if he was a citizen or not.
“I said of course I am a citizen. Keep in mind it is a direct violation of my privacy rights for a guard to ask me this,” he added.
“But [the guard] went out of his way, contacted the CBSA [Canadian Border Service Agency], and the CBSA came to see me saying that I’m not a Canadian citizen. I provided them with a copy of my birth certificate and a copy of my passport. Two weeks later, they told me my papers were given to me in error and I’m not a Canadian citizen…. My passport was just taken away. Due process wasn’t given to me, so my constitutional rights were violated. Now in their eyes I became a long term permanent resident even though I was born in Canada.”
In December of 2012 when Budlakoti was due to be released from prison on parole, instead of being released, he was detained under immigration law and sent to Toronto West Detention Centre.
“They sent me to Toronto to isolate me from my family and support,” he added.
While in Toronto, the Canadian and Indian governments were in contact with one another about Budlakoti. Indian authorities informed the CBSA that they would not give Budlakoti a travel document. India also said it does not consider him a Canadian citizen. Budlokoti and his lawyers were not informed about discussions between the CBSA and India until five months later, after filing a freedom of information request.
On April 10, 2013, Budlakoti was released from prison because it was clear India would not issue him a travel document. However, he was released under strict conditions including 9 am to 9 pm curfew, and no work unless he gets a work permit.
The Canadian Government is arguing that a foreign diplomat employed Budlakoti’s parents when he was born, which under Canadian law means he is not automatically a Canadian citizen even. Canada punishes immigrants twice for doing the same crime, and Budlakoti is facing deportation.
However, recently the former high commissioner at the Indian High Commission has written to the Canadian Government stating that Budlakoti’s parents did not work for him after June 12, 1989, a date before Budlakoti was born.
Budlakoti described the triple punishment that he is facing for being charged for one crime.
“If you get charged as a Canadian citizen, you do your time, you pay your debts to society, but yet, I’m not going through that. My citizenship has been taken away from me. Now I am stateless, and I would say that I am suffering triple punishment. I did time for my crime. I paid my debts to society, but later I was in jail for immigration. Now I am still in immigration conditions for an undetermined time.”
Recently in Canadian courts, Budlakoti has received a work permit, and has won less strict conditions. However, he is still a stateless person, and does not have all the rights of Canadian citizens.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed a UN application, arguing that Canada has violated international law by making Budlakoti a stateless person. His lawyers have also filed a charter application, arguing that the Canadian Government has violated subsection 6 and subsection 7 of the Canadian Charter. His lawyers are also challenging the Canadian Government for taking away Budlakoti’s passport.
“It clearly states in the Passport Act, that you can only get a passport if you are a citizen,” Budlakoti added.
The Justice for Deepan campaign believes that Budlakoti’s case is very important because it sets precedence. If the case is lost, “essentially it’s saying that the Canadian Government can strip away someone’s passport and citizenship from anyone,” Budlakoti said.
The campaign has support from organizations including, Amnesty International, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the BC Civil Liberties Association.
You can learn more about the Justice for Deepan campaign at http://www.justicefordeepan.org.