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The Gazette, Montreal – Sunday April 18, 1999

Cites psychiatric illness of daughter

A Bangladeshi man has defied a deportation order on the ground that his daughter is hospitalized with a psychiatric illness in Montreal and would not be able to receive adequate treatment in his south Asian homeland.

Muhd Hafizul Alam, 52, and his family were slated for deportation last Thursday after their bid for refugee status was rejected and various appeal mechanisms exhausted.

By ignoring the deportation order, Alam, his wife and two children are liable to be arrested and expelled from Canada.

On Friday, the Immigration Department told Alam’s lawyer that its medical-services branch in Ottawa would examine a physician’s letter attesting to his daughter’s condition.

The letter says that Runa Alam, 16, is hospitalized at the Allan Memorial Institute for a schizophrenic disorder and “has to remain hospitalized for an undetermined period of time.”

Max Berger, Alam’s lawyer, said the Immigration Department is to determine tomorrow whether the hospitalized teenager can be moved to the United States, from where the Alam family entered Canada in May 1997.

If deported to the U.S., the family would then be sent back to Bangladesh, Berger said.

Alam – who claims to have been persecuted by political goon squads in Bangladesh – lost his refugee bid every step of the legal way: before the Immigration and Refugee Board, a subsequent judicial review and a humanitarian request to the Immigration Department.

Now his case hinges on the department’s consideration of his daughters’ condition, which Alam said developed after the family arrived in Canada.

“If the Immigration Department is determined to carry out the removal, the next step is to enter the girl’s hospital room, remove her from the bed and take her to the border,” Berger said. “I don’t think that’s within Canada’s humanitarian tradition.”

A refugee lawyer who specialized in Bangladeshi claims said yesterday just 12 psychiatrists practice in the entire country.

“That’s one for every 10 million people,” said David Chalk. “So if I were a father and my kid needed psychiatric care, I would be very hesitant to take my kid back to Bangladesh, too.”


Max Berger is a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba and was educated at the University of Manitoba and York University. Mr. Berger is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada. He has represented immigration clients from all corners of the world and in every area of immigration law.

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