Sunday, March 19, 2017

Canadian Sikhs face extradition to India for honour killings

Not all honour killings -- in which young women (usually) are murdered by family members for bringing dishonour on the family -- are committed by Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia. Such despicable acts are all too common in south Asian Hindu and (especially) Sikh communities, not just at home in India, but wherever they may be found.

Thanks to decades of open-door immigration policies, the Great No-Longer-White North is now "home" to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs, who bring the religions and customs of the old country with them and refuse to adopt or even adapt to Canadian ways. One such area is Peel Region, west of Toronto. The other is British Columbia's Lower Mainland, surrounding Vancouver.

Two residents of the latter are Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, of Maple Ridge BC. They have fighting since 2012 to avoid extradition to India, where they are wanted for arranging the honour killing of Jaswinder (Jassi) Kaur Sidhu, right, and her husband, Sukhwinder (Mithu) Singh. Surjit Singh Badesha is Jassi's uncle; Malkit Kaur Sidhu is her mother. All of them are (or were) Sikhs.

Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu's body was found in a canal in India in 2000. Her throat had been slit. Her husband was badly beaten and left for dead at the scene. Jassi's crime, for which her mother and uncle are allegedly responsible, was secretly marrying Mithu, a humble rickshaw driver, a man of much lower social status, instead of the older man her family had arranged for her to wed in Canada.

Malkit Kaur Sidhu (Jassi's mother) and Surjit Singh Badesha (her uncle) were arrested in Canada in 2012, on charges of orchestrating the honour killing. Indian courts asked to have the pair extradited to face trial, but a surrender order signed by former Justice Minister Peter MacKay was challenged and ultimately struck down by a British Columbia appeals court last year. See "No Justice In Jassi Sidhu Murder Case: Court Rejects India’s Extradition Order For Victim’s Mother & Uncle", The Aerogram, 10/3/16. The appeal court found the pair could be subject to violence, torture or neglect ["neglect"? Seriously? Ed.] based on India's human rights record.

Mr Badesha's lawyer (((Michael Klein))) told CBC News the pair could be in danger if sent to India, and Canada is obliged to protect them. "Both of these people are elderly and both have health issues and that makes them more vulnerable in an Indian prison system, especially one which has been characterized as quite brutal."

The Attorney-General of Canada begs to differ. In a 46-page submission to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Crown says the BC appeal court erred, calling its decision an "unwarranted interference" with the minister's order to return alleged perpetrators in the "brutal and notorious 'honour' killing of a Canadian citizen." It said the ruling jeopardized Canada's ability to live up to its obligations to extradition treaty partners. "The need to fulfil Canada's obligations in relation to extradition is always a crucial factor," the brief says, "precisely because of the objectives of the extradition regime including the importance of seeing justice done in the jurisdiction in which crimes are committed and the need to prevent Canada from becoming a safe haven for criminals."

A number of SJWs and members of the human rights industry have intervened in the case. (((Juda Strawczynski))), president of Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights, said alternatives to extradition are available in cases when a recipient country's human rights record is spotty. In a remarkable twist of logic, he told CBC News Canada cannot forego human rights in the pursuit of justice! "We have to look at what we can fully consider as justice, and here we have to be mindful of Canada's reputation and trying to avoid injustices as much as possible," he said.

Seven men were convicted of the crimes in India, but (Indian courts being what they are) several of those convictions have been overturned on appeal. Now apologists for Ms Sidhu and Mr Badesha say that justice for those who (allegedly) arranged the crimes trumps justice for Jassi and Mithu. Remarkable, isn't it?

Further reading - Latest on the Shafia honour killings: Do you remember Hamed Shafia? He was the young Afghan-Canadian who was found guilty in 2012, along with his father and his father's second wife, of the murder on his father's first wife and his (Hamed's) three sisters. Hamed was tried and sentenced as an adult, as all concerned admitted he was 18 at the time of the honour killings. After the conviction and sentence, Hamed suddenly discovered he was only 17, therefore should have been tried and sentenced as a juvenile. Oopsy!

The Supreme Court of Canada is now considering whether to hear his appeal on those grounds. See "Portrait of a young 'honour killer': How an old family photo could derail Hamed Shafia’s last-ditch appeal", Maclean's, 16/3/17. And click here for the complete play-by-play account of the Shafia case as posted on WWW, 8/12/11 to 4/3/16.

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