The struggle for Project Fly Home

By Kim Nursall

Values such as liberty and respect for due process of the law are espoused by the United Nations as integral to the development and preservation of healthy, autonomous societies. Despite this, individuals such as Abousfian Abdelrazik have found their lives obstinately constrained through the UN’s 1267 list — a Kafkaesque resolution passed by the UN Security Council in 1999.

The 1267 list establishes a sanctions regime against “listed” individuals. These individuals are subject to: (a) a flight ban; (b) an arms embargo; and (c) an asset freeze. Arguably the most apt description of being listed on 1267 is that of being forced to reside in a “prison without walls.”

Individuals are placed on 1267 at the behest of a UN Security Council member which must provide a “statement of case” to support their accusation that an individual is associated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda and therefore deserves to be on the list. Individuals accused of being associated with the above organizations are not notified prior to listing, however, nor are they provided with the statement of claim or given a hearing in which they can respond to or refute allegations. A brief summary of the charges — with no supporting evidence — is the only piece of information made available.

Countries can petition to have someone removed from the list and individuals can also apply to be delisted. In both cases, the decision to delist requires consensus among all Security Council members, including the state that placed the individual on 1267 in the first place. From a due process perspective, this means that the accuser and the judge are the same. The record indicates that individuals are only delisted if their country of citizenship not only applies but actively lobbies to have their civilian removed. In 2008, the Security Council acknowledged that it “is far easier for a nation to place an individual or entity on the list than to take them off.” No reasons are given for a refusal to delist.

One individual who has suffered tremendously as a result of being placed on 1267 is Abdelrazik, whose story not only shows the failure of the list to guarantee guilt but also its terrifying ability to handicap any listed individual — even one cleared of all charges — from ever being able to live a relatively normal life.

Abdelrazik’s life has been mired in turmoil for the past seven years. For most of that time, he was imprisoned and allegedly tortured as a possible terrorist in Sudan at the initiative of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Eventually, the RCMP and CSIS were forced to admit there was no connection between Abdelrazik and terrorist activity, yet obdurate regulations made it impossible for him to return to Canada. He was instead forced to reside for more than a year at the Canadian embassy in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Canadians from across the country, under the banner of Project Fly Home, rallied for Abdelrazik’s cause by purchasing him a ticket back to Canada last June. Almost 10 months later, and after years of waiting to return home, Abdelrazik is having his ability to reconstruct the life that was stolen from him further constrained by the 1267 regimen. He is now living with his children in Montreal, but is denied employment and has had his assets seized in accordance with the list’s sanctions.

Although the Canadian government backed his delisting application in December 2007, it was blocked — presumably by the administration of former president George W. Bush, which had originally requested his listing. Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says it is Abdelrazik’s responsibility to get himself off the list — ignoring the unsuccessful history of individual applicants for delisting — and has labelled Abdelrazik a threat to Canada’s national security. He has provided no reasons for his claims.

Project Fly Home continues to advocate for Abdelrazik’s rights. Their quest deserves the support of anybody who believes in due process of the law and the protection of individual liberty. The organization’s immediate goals include asking the government to do three things: (1) lift sanctions from Abdelrazik in Canada immediately; (2) contact members of UN Security Council to inform them that delisting Abdelrazik is a priority; and (3) revoke the regulations that implement 1267 in Canada. Their long term goals include accountability for the abuses that Abdelrazik has suffered.

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