Amnesty International Deeply Disappointed by Adjournment of Abousfian Abdelrazik’s Human Rights Case
Amnesty International is deeply disappointed by the adjournment of Abousfian Abdelrazik’s civil case against the federal government in which he is seeking remedy for Canada’s role in grave human rights abuses he endured while detained in Sudan from 2003-2006 and for obstruction of his return to Canada until 2009. The adjournment was granted following an indication, on the eve of the opening of the long-anticipated 8-week trial, that the government is making an application under Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, for documents which the government itself has already released to be reviewed for national security concerns.
Notably Federal Court Justice St. Louis agrees to grant the adjournment “reluctantly” and orders the government to immediately pay the costs of Mr. Abdelrazik’s legal team in preparing for trial, costs that she concludes have been “thrown away as a result of the adjournment”.
“The obvious effort to further delay this case is as cynical as it is shameful. It is a tremendous blow to justice, denied for so many long years tor Abousfian Abdelrazik. It is a move which undermines the protection and respect of human rights to which all Canadian citizens are rightfully entitled,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “The disgraceful tactics employed by government lawyers to secure this adjournment are doubly troubling as there is no plausible explanation that has been offered for the application. This action skirts Canada’s fundamental obligation under international law to provide an effective remedy when its officials are complicit in serious human rights violations. We repeat our demand that the Canadian government halt these contemptuous delay tactics and move instead to promptly ensure Mr. Abdelrazik receives appropriate and fair redress.”
Amnesty International has closely followed Abousfian 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 nearly three 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.
The Government of Canada admits that CSIS provided questions to Sudanese interrogators, despite being aware that Sudan intelligence is known to use physical and psychological torture, arbitrary arrest and solitary confinement in that country’s prisons. Canada later sent agents to interview him while he was unlawfully detained by Sudanese authorities. 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 Mr. Abdelrazik was eventually released from detention in Sudan, the Canadian government effectively 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 an emergency passport to him 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.
A last-minute decision by the government in April 2018 to withdraw from mediation toward resolution of his case, before the negotiations had even begun, has forced him back into the prospect of long and arduous civil litigation in his efforts to obtain justice. Today’s ruling serves only to further delay justice in his case.
For media queries, please contact:
Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; firstname.lastname@example.org