The Harper Government Fails the Human Rights Test Again

June 17, 2009

Doug Thomas Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Stephen Harper's Government to allow Abdul Razik, a dual Canadian-Sudanese citizen, to return to Canada after an inappropriate six-year exile in Sudan. Once again the Harper government has shown its arrogance and disdain for the courts and common human rights by refusing to comply.

Razik was ready to board a flight to Canada after the court ruling, but he remains in the lobby of the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum where he has subsisted for the past year.

Lisa Monette, Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson, said he "was refused a passport by the Canadian Government for national security reasons. Mr. Razik is on the UN Security Council's 1267 list as an individual associated with Al Quaeda."

Razik went to the Sudan in 2003 to visit his ailing mother and was arrested by local authorities for suspected terrorist connections on the recommendation of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). That body has since said that he is not and never has been a national security concern and never had any connection with Al Quaeda. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has concurred.

Thus, the only indication that he might be some kind of security concern for Canada, or anyone else, is that U.N. list. A spokesperson for the U.N. has admitted that the list is inaccurate, badly out of date, and that there doesn't seem to be any way to get one's name off the list once it is on.

By way of example, among those listed is Omar Khadr's father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who was killed in Pakistan in 2003. Two things are certain about Ahmed Khadr: he was associated with Al Quaeda and he is dead.

Obviously the U.N. list should not be followed without question especially when CSIS, the RCMP and the Supreme Court of Canada say that Abdul Razik is innocent and should be allowed to return to Canada.

The pattern for the Harper government is unsettlingly. Omar Khadr languishes in Guantanamo and the Harper government, also refuses to patriate him. Both Abdul Razik and Omar Khadr are Muslim and have African heritage. The similarity in the religious background and heritage of these men along with at least one other Canadian currently in custody in the United States is too striking to overlook.

This kind of behavior should be a major concern for Canadian humanists since it surely flies in the face of any reasonable standard for human rights and certainly does not fit with Canada's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The Harper Conservative Members of Parliament are, no doubt, hearing from their right wing Christian faction. The time is ripe for them and for other Members of Parliament to hear from Canadian humanists.

If Harper is arrogant enough to ignore the Supreme Court, one hopes he is not arrogant enough to ignore the Canadian electorate who elected his party to a shaky minority during the last election.

Doug Thomas is an English teacher and novelist, an agnostic member of SOFREE (Society of Ontario Freethinkers), and an active member of the Humanist Association of Canada. He is also Managing Editor of Canadian Freethinker.