Abdelrazik: Year-long Struggle for Child Assistance - Blacklisting forces torture survivor to fight for
by People's Commission
bousfian Abdelrazik, a Montreal man
whose children were denied child assistance in Quebec because his name appears
on an international blacklist, has finally won access to the public programme.
This blacklist, known as the "1267 List", is part of a UN Security
Council sanctions regime which indefinitely imposes an asset freeze and an
international travel ban on listed individuals. In Canada, it is illegal to give
individuals on the 1267 List any financial assistance, whether social
assistance, a loan, a gift or a salary.
In practice, this prevents listed
individuals from working, effectively condemning them to a life of economic
Mr. Abdelrazik's child assistance odyssey began in late 2010,
when the single father - sole care-giver for two children, aged 6 and 17 -
applied to Quebec for child assistance benefits. He was informed by the Régie
des rentes that his application could not be processed until he received an
exemption from the Security Council.
Mr. Abdelrazik then applied to
Ottawa to seek an exemption from the Security Council. But the response of the
Foreign Affairs Minister was a surprise: Minister Baird issued a certificate of
exemption which stated that no exemption was necessary.
confusing, not only because it was internally contradictory, but because it
contradicted current Canadian legislation and practice up to that time. But the
position of the Conservative government on Mr. Abdelrazik has been
confused, cruel and racist from the outset," said Mary Foster, active in Project
Fly Home, a community group which has supported Mr. Abdelrazik's struggle for
justice since 2008.
Mr. Abdelrazik then transferred the certificate of
exemption, such as it was, to the Régie des rentes, who processed the request
and issued a payment.
However, when Mr. Abdelrazik tried to access the money, he was informed
that his bank, the Caisse populaire Desjardins, had refused the cheque.
Desjardins wanted its own certificate of exemption. Previously, the bank had
only required a certificate of exemption for withdrawals, not deposits. Mr. Abdelrazik's
lawyers sent Minister Baird's certificate of exemption to the bank. The Régie
issued a new cheque and Mr. Abdelrazik's children can now finally benefit from
the public programme - almost one year later. Not without a final twist,
however - back payments owing from last spring are still being
"What this illustrates is the degree to which the UN Security
Council's blacklist regime exposes Mr. Abdelrazik to the exercise of arbitrary
power at every level - from the Security Council itself, to the Canadian Foreign
Minister, to the Quebec Régie, to his bank. And it does so in a way that has a
very immediate and tangible impact on his well-being and on that of his
children. It is intolerable," said Brian Aboud, another member of Project Fly
Mr. Abdelrazik, a Canadian whose case became a national scandal
for the Harper government in 2009, lived in forced exile between 2003 and 2009
after travelling to Sudan to visit his mother. Arbitrarily detained, he was
tortured, released, and detained for a second time, again suffering the same
treatment. His name appeared on the 1267 List shortly after his second release
from prison in 2006. The listing served as a pretext for Canadian officials to
block his return to Montreal for several more years. In June 2009, in an
unusually strongly worded judgement, the Federal Court of Canada found that Mr.
Abdelrazik had originally been arrested in Sudan on the request of the Canadian
spy agency, CSIS, that he had been tortured, and that the Foreign Minister,
Lawrence Cannon, had acted illegally by preventing him from returning to Canada.
The court ordered the Canadian government to bring Mr. Abdelrazik home to
Montreal without delay. CSIS has since admitted to sending two agents to
interrogate Mr. Abdelrazik while he was held in arbitrary detention by Sudan's
notorious security intelligence branch.
In 2007, both CSIS and RCMP issued letters saying
they had nothing against Mr. Abdelrazik. In fact, throughout his entire ordeal,
he has never been charged with any crime.
Like no-fly lists, the 1267 List is a legal black hole. Little is
known about how people are listed and, once on, it is almost impossible to get
off. Mr. Abdelrazik submitted a delisting request to the Security Council in
January 2011. He has been waiting for a decision, in a cruel state of suspense,
for eleven months.