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An immigration adjudicator has ordered the continued detention of a 13-year-old Pakistani refugee claimant who has spent more than two months in custody – because the boy has no reliable guarantors here.

“I don’t hold you fully responsible because you are only 13,” William Willoughby told a downcast Umer Hussain. “I have some sympathy but I find I am unable to order your release.

“The problem is that every adult who has come forward has demonstrated unreliability,” Willoughby said, adding he didn’t think the boy would show up for a future hearing.

Umer is being held at the Celebrity Inn, a detention facility on Airport Rd., with a 22-year-old friend, Nadeem Zafar. Umer arrived in Canada on Jan. 28 with a false passport.

The two, who at first claimed to be brothers, were arrested and then released Feb. 15 when a relative of Zafar posted their bonds.

Umer’s parents, brother and sisters remain in Pakistan. Umer and Zafar, however, didn’t reveal their true identities on the advice of an immigration consultant and when they did, were promptly re-arrested on their arrival for a hearing on March 7.

While doubts remained about the identity of Zafar, who was also ordered detained Friday – his case was heard by another adjudicator – Willoughby said he was satisfied that Umer was who he claimed to be.

Identification documents had to come from Pakistan, and a Canadian visitor to Pakistan arranged an interview of the boy’s father with the Canadian consulate, the hearing was told.

The hearing, however, was also told of a web of deception behind Umer’s case, which included false passports, $14,000 fees to an “agent” in Pakistan and the unreliability of several bonds people in Canada.

They lied about Umer’s identity when first posting a bond for his release, said Edith Ishmael-Decaire, the case presentation officer for the immigration department.

Ishmael-Decaire also said there was concern from the Canadian consulate in Pakistan that if Umer’s scam was successful, it would result in “a rash of cases involving minors.”

But Max Berger, Umer’s lawyer, argued: “Even if there was a web of deception, can we in good conscience say a 13-year-old boy engineered it?”

Holding a boy to a standard of accountability of an adult is punishment, Berger said in arguing for his release.


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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