Friday April 18, 2014

Six months heavy price for student

Is six months in jail enough for stabbing someone in the eye with a pool cue during a fight in a bar? Especially given that the victim suffers permanent paralysis in his left arm and leg as well as vision problems and a drooping eyelid?

A Kamloops judge thought so when he handed down the sentence this past Thursday.
We don’t mean to second-guess him, but it may be that there were things on his mind, in addition to the suffering of the victim, when he made his decision.

An important factor likely was the matter of deportation. While the rules don’t appear to be cut and dried, the convicted man — a TRU student from Saudi Arabia — will likely have the right to appeal any move by federal authorities to deport him to his homeland.

If the sentence had been more than six months, the right of appeal would have been taken away and deportation would be swifter and more certain.

While deportation might seem like the proper and logical thing to do with a foreigner convicted of a crime in Canada, the idea of deportation to Saudi Arabia would be unsettling for anyone with a sense of humanity.

The penalties in Saudi Arabia would be considered borderline barbaric by many Canadians.

For example, someone possessing alcohol (not necessarily consuming it) may be subject to a public flogging.

We don’t know if the student was drinking on the night in question, but his presence in a bar — not to mention the assault — will no doubt have repercussions when he does return to Saudi Arabia, whether by deportation or on his own.

In other words, those six months of jail in Canada will multiply into a much harsher penalty for him and his family back home — through the legal system or societal pressures.

By giving a six-month sentence, the judge has guaranteed that the student will pay a daunting price. While it may appear light here, it will be heavy in Saudi Arabia.

In a sign of mercy, though, he has also given the young man a fighting chance with the opportunity to at least make his case before being deported to face certain misery.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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