In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take “direct and personal” action to ensure justice is served for Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, after the federal government abruptly refused to pursue mediated negotiations toward settlement of his case.
Negotiations were set to begin last month to provide redress for Canada’s role in the grave human rights violations Abdelrazik endured in Sudan from 2003-2009, including torture, unlawful detention and forced exile, when Abdelrazik’s legal team was suddenly notified of the government’s withdrawal. Amnesty is calling on the Prime Minister to order that decision to be reversed so that long-overdue steps toward an apology and redress can and will go forward without further delay.
“Recently, the Kafkaesque saga of human rights violations and injustice endured by Abousfian Abdelrazik has taken yet another troubling turn away from justice. The Trudeau government has shown a principled willingness to do the right thing by providing apologies and redress in other national security-related human rights cases, which added to the deep disappointment at the news that the same commitment to justice would not be offered to Abdelrazik,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.
“Canada’s failure to adhere to international law at all stages of its handling of this case, and in particular the disgraceful actions of CSIS throughout Abdelrazik’s detention in Sudan, have been as shameful as they are unlawful. Given the prolonged and persistent injustices at play and the unconscionable refusal of the government to even commence negotiations, it is clear that intervention from the Prime Minister is now urgently required to end this years-long travesty of justice.”
Amnesty International has closely followed Abdelrazik’s case and issued repeated calls for justice on his behalf, spanning back more than a decade. He was first detained in Sudan when he travelled there to visit his family in 2003. In the course of more than two and a half years in prison and under house arrest, he was never charged with or convicted of a crime and was repeatedly tortured by the Sudanese national security intelligence agency.
Evidence clearly indicates that CSIS provided questions to Sudanese interrogators, despite the use of extensive physical and psychological torture, arbitrary arrest and solitary confinement in that country’s prisons, and sent agents to interview him while he was unlawfully detained. Evidence also clearly indicates officials in CSIS actively obstructed and undermined efforts by Canadian diplomatic staff to provide consular assistance and to seek to uphold and protect his human rights.
Once Abdelrazik was eventually released from detention in Sudan, the Canadian government barred him from returning to Canada by refusing to issue him a passport for a further three years. In 2009, a scathing Federal Court judgment ordered the government to issue Abdelrazik an emergency passport within 30 days, paving the way for his return to Canada.
Despite repeated calls from Amnesty International and others over the course of the nearly nine years since Abousfian Abdelrazik returned to Canada, the federal government has not provided him with redress for the role officials played in these grave human rights violations. The recent move to withdraw from mediated negotiations toward resolution in his case has forced him back into the prospect of long and arduous civil litigation in his efforts to obtain justice unless that decision is reversed.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada -firstname.lastname@example.org / 613-744-7667 x 236