Abdul Shanwaz

Before Abdul Shanwaz went to Canada, he had been a political prisoner for three years. During that time he was tortured in many ways. He was beaten, hung upside down, given electric shocks, and choked. As a result of this torture, he went blind in one eye. He also became mentally ill.

In Canada, Abdul was arrested after selling an illegal drug, heroin. He had sold it four times to a policeman who was pretending to be a drug addict. Once, when Abdul did this, he had his baby with him in a stroller. He hid the drugs in the stroller, under the baby.

When Abdul appeared in court, in the Canadian city of Toronto, he was shaking and he couldn’t look at anyone. At his first trial, the judge, Anne Molloy, said that Abdul should not be sent to prison. She gave two reasons. First, she said, he would suffer in jail because being there would bring back memories of how he had been tortured. Second, she said, Abdul was not making money selling drugs; he was working for other drug dealers, and he was working without pay. Anne sentenced Abdul to house arrest and electronic surveillance for seventeen months with an extra two years of probation.

The government appealed because they thought Abdul’s punishment was not severe enough. So Abdul went on trial a second time. In the second trial, the majority of the judges disagreed with the sentence Anne had given Abdul. They sentenced Abdul to six years in jail. But one of the judges, John Laskin, disagreed. He said that Anne had been right to be lenient.

- information from the Toronto Star, 00.11.09