Seen in Its True Light: Desertion as a Pure Political Crime

(2014) 30:2 Refuge 93

10 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2014

See all articles by Amar Khoday

Amar Khoday

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 20, 2014


Individuals from democratic states who flee state prosecution and seek refugee status in Canada face significant challenges in obtaining asylum. There is a strong presumption that the legal system of their country of nationality will provide adequate procedural safeguards. This presumption extends to US military deserters who refused to serve in Iraq. The consequence is that numerous claimants have been denied over the past decade.

This article contends that where the feared prosecution relates to a political crime, there should not be a presumption of state protection. Furthermore, the article posits and discusses why desertion should constitute a pure political crime much like treason, sedition, or espionage. Lastly, the article argues, pursuant to United Nations policies, that such deserters should be able to obtain refugee status only where their desertion constitutes a refusal to be associated with military actions that are internationally condemned as contrary to the basic rules of human conduct.

Keywords: State protection, US soldiers, asylum, refugee status, Paragraph 171, desertion, political crimes, pure political crimes

Suggested Citation

Khoday, Amar, Seen in Its True Light: Desertion as a Pure Political Crime (November 20, 2014). (2014) 30:2 Refuge 93, Available at SSRN:

Amar Khoday (Contact Author)

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law ( email )

224 Dysart Rd.
University of Manitoba Faculty of Law
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2

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