Canada: Open letter to Ministers Alexander and Nicholson calling for a Canadian passport for Mohamed Fahmy
The Honourable Chris Alexander
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
House of Commons
The Honourable Rob Nicholson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
April 13, 2015
Dear Minister Alexander and Minister Nicholson,
We are writing this Open Letter to reiterate and update Amnesty International’s concerns with respect to the case of Mohamed Fahmy. We have written frequently to the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State (Consular Affairs), ever since Mr. Fahmy was first arrested in December 2013. We are including Minister Alexander at this time because we have specific concerns with respect to the challenges Mr. Fahmy faces in obtaining a replacement for his Canadian passport. Consistent with the critical importance of taking a strong stand in defence of Mr. Fahmy’s internationally protected human rights, we are calling on the government to ensure that he receives a passport without delay.
As you will be aware, Amnesty International considers Mr. Fahmy to be a prisoner of conscience (along with the two Al Jazeera journalists arrested and detained alongside him, Peter Greste who has now returned to Australia and Baher Mohamed who finds himself in the same legal limbo that Mr. Fahmy has endured for several months). As such we consistently called for his unconditional and immediate release from prison and, now that he has been released on bail, for the charges against him to be unconditionally and immediately dropped. We have called on the Canadian government to press that demand with Egyptian officials, including at the level of Prime Minister Harper intervening directly with President al-Sisi.
It is, of course, of great concern that instead of dropping the charges or arranging for Mr. Fahmy to be deported to Canada (which was widely expected after he reluctantly renounced his Egyptian citizenship), Egyptian authorities have proceeded with a retrial against both him and Baher Mohamed. That trial has been adjourned on several occasions now.
While Mr. Fahmy endures the continuing injustice of the protracted retrial, he has made it clear that he requires his Canadian passport. Egyptian authorities claim that his current, original passport cannot be located. As such he requires a replacement. He needs the passport both for identity purposes and because he wishes to marry and requires it to complete the necessary paperwork.
The Canadian government has declined to provide him with a new passport, indicating that because he is still facing legal proceedings in Egypt and is barred by court order from leaving the country, Canadian passport regulations make it impossible to issue a passport. Notably, there has never been any indication that Mr. Fahmy intends to leave the country until his legal situation is resolved.
Ministers, the decision not to issue Mr. Fahmy with a passport simply cannot stand. It is vital that Canadian officials, in all relevant Ministries and agencies, do everything possible to uphold Mr. Fahmy’s rights. At no point should decisions be taken that in any way legitimize the proceedings underway in Egypt. In refusing to issue a passport on the basis of conditions arising from the retrial, Canada has in a sense become complicit in the unjust actions of Egyptian officials and the illegality (under international law) of the charges Mr. Fahmy faces. The Canadian government must reject the charges Mr. Fahmy faces, the trial that is underway and all conditions stemming from those charges and proceedings.
Without accepting the government’s position that Canadian passport regulations restrict the power to issue a passport to Mr. Fahmy because of the Egyptian court conditions that have been imposed against him, Amnesty International notes that the Canadian Passport Order makes it clear that the government retains the full scope of the ‘royal prerogative’ with respect to passports.
Amnesty International calls on the government to exercise that royal prerogative under the Canadian Passport Order to provide Mohamed Fahmy with a Canadian passport without delay, thereby making it clear that Canada does not in any way accept the legal process that has been launched against him.
Amnesty International Canada
Amnistie internationale Canada
(613)744-7667 #236 firstname.lastname@example.org