OTTAWA (AFP) - An American citizen has applied for asylum in Canada because he says he fears police in the United States will kill him because he is black, the refugee board said on Thursday (Oct 29).
Kyle Lydell Canty, 30, filed a refugee claim soon after arriving in Vancouver in September.
According to public broadcaster CBC, he told an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing on Oct 23: "I'm in fear of my life because I'm black.
"This is a well-rounded fear," he said, citing the police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York City at the hands of police as examples of black people in the United States "being exterminated at an alarming rate."
An IRB spokeswoman said Canty submitted a significant amount of evidence to the board including media reports, and videos of his interactions with police in six US states where he lived before coming to Canada, including one where he was arrested for trespass in Salem, Oregon after he spent two hours talking on the phone and using free Wi-Fi at a bus station.
He argued that he was harassed or targeted by US police because of his race.
There has been a heightened focus on police brutality in the United States after a string of incidents - some deadly - involving law enforcement officials and African Americans.
The latest incident this week involved a white police officer who was filmed manhandling a disruptive black female student in a high school in South Carolina.
Canty represented himself at the IRB hearing. Although he was reportedly commended by the board for presenting a strong case, Canty faces an uphill battle to stay in Canada as only a handful of US citizens are granted asylum in this country each year.
An estimated 200 war resisters fled to Canada during the Iraq conflict and were sent home after their claims were rejected, or now live underground.
Canada previously welcomed tens of thousands of American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War era.
But the Immigration and Refugee Board has said in a decision supported by the federal court that US asylum seekers are not conventional refugees under UN High Commissioner for Refugees rules, nor in need of protection.
Accordingly, their refugee claims have been denied.