Toronto
2 min

Deportation death sentence

No affordable AIDS drugs in Barbados

NO MERCY FROM THE FEDS. Melody Cordle leaves for Barbados next week to spend the few months the pair has left with her husband, Lorenzo. Credit: Xtra files

An HIV-positive man deported to Barbados last week says Canadian officials have handed him a death sentence.



Thirty-two-year-old Lorenzo Cordle was in the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre finishing off a six-month sentence for drug trafficking. It was this charge that stripped him of his landed immigrant status and prompted the deportation order.



“He has done his time and he shouldn’t be punished anymore,” says wife Melody Cordle, who is also HIV-positive. “Lorenzo would rather spend 10 more years in prison than be deported to Barbados which would be like the death penalty.



“Last time I checked,” she adds, “Canada didn’t have capital punishment.”



Lorenzo says he contracted HIV from his previous wife, who died four years ago. He is on a drug cocktail that includes 17 medications and reports good health.



But in Barbados, the sole medication available is AZT. It’s subsidized for pregnant women and infants – and is sold to all others at exorbitant prices.



“Staying alive would cost us thousands of dollars a week,” says Melody, “money we just don’t have.”



Melody, living in Brockville, will leave for Barbados on Monday -planning to live out together what time they have left.



Lawyer David Morris says he’s trying to get Lorenzo back in on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.



But the last time Lorenzo went before the Immigration And Refugee Board, a tribunal found that he was “a threat to society” based on his criminal record.



This is a claim that his friend Chris St Jean calls “ridiculous.” He met Melody and Lorenzo at a 1997 AIDS conference.



“This is a man who dug himself out of the hole, conquering substance abuse, racism and financial setbacks,” says St Jean. “Shortly before his arrest Lorenzo had graduated from a computer course and gotten a good full-time job.”



Supporters allege that Lorenzo’s arrest was entrapment. They claim the police preyed on his weakness as a recovered substance abuser and had singled him out because he’s one of the only black men in the town of Brockville.



“The judge who sentenced Lorenzo said that his arrest ‘smelled of entrapment,'” says Morris. “However Lorenzo’s previous lawyer never let him know that this was a line of reasoning he could follow and advised him to simply plead guilty.



“The judge handed Lorenzo a very light sentence based on the extenuating circumstances,” Morris adds.



“In Barbados, Lorenzo’s life expectancy would be 12 to 18 months and here he can live a much longer and fuller life,” says Morris. “We think that’s pretty compelling grounds for a humanitarian case.”



Immigration department spokespeople refused to discuss the case. According to the notes from his last hearing, Lorenzo “was a threat to society” due to his criminal record, erratic work history and because “he cannot be considered to be established in this country.”



Lorenzo has lived in Canada since 1988 – and most of his friends and family reside in Ontario.



His criminal record includes one drug possession charge and an assault charge connected to a spat with his ex-wife’s family.



Lorenzo was thrown out of the country on Feb 3.



Says St Clair: “Lorenzo was deported at 7am without any contact [with] his wife. We went to the airport in Ottawa to give him some clothes and money for his stay there, but were not allowed and were treated with disrespect.”



St Jean and the Black Coalition For AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) have launched a petition campaign to repeal the deportation order. Contact chris.stjean@sympatico.ca.