Abousfian Abdelrazik Attempts Return to Canada

Lawyer Yavar Hameed holds up an airline ticket for Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik, stranded in Sudan since 2003.

Lawyer Yavar Hameed holds up an airline ticket for Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik, stranded in Sudan since 2003.

Abousfian Abdelrazik was detained without charge and tortured by Sudanese officials on the request of CSIS in 2003. He was subsequently prevented from returning to Canada by officials within the Canadian government, trapping him in Sudan for 6 years. Although he is boarding a plane today to finally return home, his worries are not over. Abdelrazik’s government-scheduled itinerary includes two lengthy stopovers, one in Abu Dhabi and the other in the United States- both countries here he risks apprehension.

In a June 18th letter, a representative of the Department of Justice wrote to Abdelrazik’s legal team, saying that “the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has encountered some reticence in getting assurances that your client will be able to board a flight.” In response, Abdelrazik’s legal team immediately scheduled a meeting with DFAIT officials, asking them of any attempts to ensure Abdelrazik’s safety in the stopover countries. They refused to answer the questions on the basis of national security.

In his June 4th ruling, Judge Russell Zinn- who has agreed to remain ‘seized’ until Abdelrazik returns to Canada- ordered a DFAIT escort to accompany Abdelrazik on his way home. He demanded that the escort “use his very best efforts to ensure that Mr. Abdelrazik returns to Canada unimpeded.” Abdelrazik is also being accompanied by his lawyer, Yavar Hameed. It is the hope of both Abdelarzik and his legal team that this will secure him safe passage.

As of about an hour ago, the three of them have landed safely in Abu Dhabi. The progress of Abdelrazik’s journey home can be monitored at http://twitter.com/retouraubercail

If Abdelrazik does indeed return home safely, Judge Zinn has called for him to appear before a Montreal Federal Court on July 7th to answer questions regarding his experiences in Sudan. There will be an effort to gather supporters outside the court room.

In a June 11th letter, Susan Pollack [executive director of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, charged with reviewing the activities of CSIS] wrote to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee pledging a review would take place of how CSIS handled Abdelrazik’s case. Pollack’s letter went on to say that the review will be conducted in private “and the review committee will not be providing any further comments on the status of this investigation.”This letter was in direct response to Judge Zinn’s June 4th ruling which stated that CSIS was “complicit” in Abdelrazik’s detention by Sudanese authorities in 2003. NDP MP Paul Dewar is calling for a full public inquiry.

According to CSIS’s website, “while CSIS may enter into arrangements with foreign countries and agencies, it may only do so with the approval of the Minister of Public Safety in consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.” Upon Abdelrazik’s initial detention in 2003, Ward Elcock [current head of security for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and upcoming G8 meeting] was Director of CSIS, Wayne Easter was the Solicitor General [the name of the position was soon after changed to Minister of Public Safety], and Bill Graham was the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Since the election of the Harper government, Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh has served as the official opposition critic for National Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Public Safety, respectively. He was also the first Indo-Canadian Provincial leader, becoming the NDP premier of BC in 2000. After Michael Ignatieff became Liberal Party Leader, Dosanjh became a Special Advisor. Dosanjh is uniquely qualified to lead a call along with Dewar for a public inquiry. Occupying his old critic positions are Bob Rae [as critic for Foreign Affairs] and Mark Holland [as the critic for Public Safety and National Security]. While these positions are the places from which a call for a public inquiry should be expected to come, the fear of bipartisan culpability being revealed will likely stifle any such call, leaving the NDP and Abdelzarik’s legal team on their own.

More information about Abdelrazik’s case can be found here: http://www.peoplescommission.org/en/abdelrazik/

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