NPD Seeking Better Protections For Canadians Abroad

Entrance BarrierWith the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud unfolding before the public eye, members of opposition parties are urging the passage of new legislation that would force the Canadian government to take a more active role and provide better protection to Canadians facing problems abroad.

Even before a schedules parliamentary hearing later this afternoon, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar has said he will be putting together legislation that would make the Canadian government and cabinet ministers accountable when expats get into trouble in foreign countries.

Such a bill would require consular officials at Canadian embassies as well as high commissions to make timely reports about any alleged acts of torture or mistreatment to the foreign affairs minister. This network of accountability must be adhered to since it mean to secure observance of the new law.

There has been much debate about the treatment of Canadians abroad by the government. A number of high-profile cases have made media headlines, including that of Mohamud. The 31-year-old Somali-Canadian was held in Nairobi, Kenya for three months because authorities there believed she was an imposter due to differences in passport photos.

Only after Mohamud was required to undergo DNA testing to prove her identity was she allowed to travel back to Toronto. As a result of this mistreatment, Mohamud and her family filed a $2.5 –million suit again the Canadian government for various violations.

The government has been characterized as reckless and inept in its handling of the situation. Other cases like those of Omar Khadr and Abousfian Abdelrazik cast a heavy hand of criticism on the Canadian government.

Khadr was help at Guantanamo Bay for several years without trial and was only recently allowed to return to Ottawa by court order. There are still questions about his involvement in al-Qaeda battles in Afghanistan. Abdelrazik was held for six years in Sudan as a suspected member of al-Qaeda. Even though he was cleared of any criminal involvement, the Canadian government prevented his return to Montreal until he could get off UN terrorist no-fly lists. The Federal Court ruled to have him returned.

Mohamud and a number of senior Foreign Affairs officials as well as the head of the Canada Border Services Agency will be attending a committee of MPs to discuss her case Wednesday afternoon.