Wednesday, January 19, 2011

UN Ombudsperson for "Terrorists" on The "1267 List"

I was struck by the article copied below, and then more struck that there seems to be very little attention given in the media to the announcement of a UN ombudsperson to whom those who have unfairly been put on the UN's list of terrorists may appeal for "de-listing". There is now a greater hope for those listed following United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 -- enacted in 1999 to create international sanctions against any individual or group affiliated with either Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban--that they may eventually be "de-listed". Not a great hope, because of the observer status only of the ombudsperson--but a greater one.

The impact of being placed on the "1267 list' is crippling, even for those proven innocent, as is the case in the example given below of Sudanese-Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik. The horrors of how this man was placed on the list with no rationale by the USA, tortured at their request for 2 years in the Sudan, left to rot in a Sudanese jail, even after the Sudanese insisted he was guilty of nothing and should be returned to Canada, are exceeded only by Canada's initial collusion with it all, and then the extraordinary measures taken by the recent Conservative government to leave Abdelrazik there--even defying Canadian Federal and Supreme Court orders.

When the government was finally forced to issue Abdelrazik a new Canadian passport, and his lawyer personally ensured that he was--this time--allowed on a flight home, Abdelrazik returned to the country where he had built his adult life, as a man now imprisoned by the sanctions imposed by being on the UN terrorist list: frozen assets, prevented from work, unable to travel, unable to receive aid from others--internationally.

Like Abdelrazik, others who have not been proven terrorists languish on a list judged by a number of ambassadors to be against international human rights, and also without reasonable recourse, as the de-listing procedure instituted in 2006 has been deemed ineffective, and against international standards of law and justice.

I add my name to those who view the 1267 Committee regime as a denial of basic legal remedies and as untenable under the principles of international human rights. There is nothing in the listing or de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness…. (…) It can hardly be said that the 1267 Committee process meets the requirement of independence and impartiality when, as appears may be the case involving Mr. Abdelrazik, the nation requesting the listing is one of the members of the body that decides whether to list or, equally as important, to de-list a person. The accuser is also the judge. From: Federal Court of Canada, Abdelrazik v. Canada (Foreign Affairs), Russel Zinn, 4 June 2009. Decision as cited in the Wikipedia entry on UN Security Council Resolution 1267

Ironically, or beyond ironically, 5 senior members of the Taliban administration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were de-listed by the UN sanctions committee, with the support of President Hamid Karzai, on January 27, 2010: U.N. Reconciles itself to Five Members of Mulla Omar’s Cabinet.

Others must apply to the ombudsperson, wait for her to make her semi-annual observation reports to the UN Security Council, and wait for their decision to act on her observations, or not.

Canadian judge hopes to shed light on terrorism blacklist
WASHINGTON— From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 8:04PM EST
Last updated Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 8:14PM EST

The men deemed the most dangerous in the world – blacklisted by unanimous consent of the world’s biggest powers – now have an advocate of sorts, a diminutive Canadian jurist with a disarming laugh who vows to shine some light on what has been a very dark process.

If Osama bin Laden believes he has been unjustly targeted by the United Nations 1267 al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee, then he should contact Kimberly Prost, the first-ever UN Security Council ombudsperson. She is charged with bringing some fairness, transparency and justice to the terrorism blacklist that has had none, until now.

The 52-year-old Canadian with a track record that includes time as a war-crimes judge and plenty of exposure to the tough, often-murky worlds of international drugs and terrorism trials, is under no illusions. She knows that if the world powers routinely reject her opinions about who is wrongly on the 1267 list, she will be regarded as a fig leaf for an already much-maligned effort that bans anyone deemed to be connected to Mr. bin Laden, al-Qaeda or the Taliban from travelling or working and requires that their assets be seized.

Judge Prost brims with cautious optimism.

“This is the first opportunity for an individual to have an independent third party to look at their cases,” she said in long, wide-ranging interview. “I want to bring as much due process as I can.”

It’s a huge conundrum. From mountain caves and remote compounds, from Saudi prisons to low-rent apartments in Montreal and Hamburg and Jakarta, those who feel they have been smeared are supposed to contact – and then trust – Judge Prost in her mid-town Manhattan office block and seek her help in persuading the world powers that a mistake has been made. “Of course it is not perfect … but it is an enormous step forward,” she said.

Judge Prost will report twice a year, the first time next month.

“I tell them [the Security Council] what I think,” she said with a forthrightness that suggests there will be little room for misunderstanding. The council can then ignore or over-ride her “observations.”

Whether the creation of an ombudsperson passes the test of international credibility and delivers fairness will take months, perhaps years, to determine. Much will depend on how willing Judge Prost is to make public those instances in which the Security Council refuses to delist someone she believes deserves to be removed.

While the al-Qaeda leader seems unlikely to call, there are hundreds of less infamous people on the 1267 list who will seek Judge Prost’s intervention.

Abousfian Abdelrazik is among them. He’s the Canadian kept in forced exile for six years by successive governments in Ottawa, both Liberal and Conservative. They used the 1267 listing as an excuse to deny him a passport and refused to allow him to return to his home in Canada.

Mr. Abdelrazik is now back in Montreal after a Canadian federal judge ordered his repatriation and blasted government ministers for riding roughshod over his constitutional rights. Never charged with any crime, Mr. Abdelrazik remains in a twilight zone imposed by Ottawa and the UN blacklist. He can’t work, he can’t travel and his assets, including his dead wife’s estate, have been seized by Ottawa. This is all because some unnamed country added him to the 1267 list and despite being cleared by Canadian security agencies.

Until now, getting “delisted” – to use the UN’s jargon – was almost impossible. Even dead men (there are no women) were kept on the blacklist. Getting on was easy. Any one of the 15 Security Council states can nominate anyone (not just their own citizens) to the list. Getting off required the unanimous consent of the entire Security Council and, even UN insiders acknowledge, there as a certain amount of insider collusion. “You keep my dissident on the list and I won’t back delisting the guy that arouses your suspicions” was – and perhaps remains – the norm. Creating an ombudsperson was widely seen as a response to cases in Canada, Britain and the European Union, denouncing the 1267 process as woefully unjust.

Judge Prost has no illusions about the scope of her task. Those on the blacklist are almost all Muslims, many of them fugitives. They have little reason to trust the Security Council or the United States, the biggest contributor to the list, which is named for the number of the resolution that created it in 1999.

“I appreciate the devastating effects that being on the 1267 list” has on individuals, Judge Prost said. But, she added: The list is “a preventative measure used to cut off the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out terrorist attacks” and therefore “the standards are very different from those used in criminal offences.”

Canada, then holding one of the 10, two-year terms on the council, was a co-sponsor of the resolution creating the blacklist.

The list reflected a shift in sanctions philosophy, from broad measures imposed on states and which affected whole populations to an attempt to target the “bad guys.”

The strategy continues, with sanctions focused not just on terrorists and those who support them but – in the case of Iran for instance – on key figures involved in Tehran’s nuclear project.

But, as Judge Prost acknowledged, “when a country or even a political regime is subject to sanctions [by the Security Council], they have a political recourse, but for an individual, they don’t have any form of redress.”

Her role is to provide some.

Already, six people (including Mr. Abdelrazik, although Judge Prost won’t confirm that) have filed petitions for delisting.

“This is the first time someone has actually talked to me about this, first time someone has looked at my case,” Judge Prost quoted one of the listed individuals as telling her, a stark illustration of the arbitrariness that turned many people into unconvicted prisoners for years.

Globe Video: Living on a UN terror blacklist--Abousfian Abdelrazik explains what it’s like to live on the UN terrorist blacklist and describes the freedom for which he yearns


From the Amnesty International petition for Abdelrazik's release, after he was detained in 2003 at the request of the USA with information provided by Canada's CSIS, during a visit to his mother in the Sudan

Released by the Sudanese, living in the Canadian embassy as Canada refuses travel documents and to allow him to board a flight home From: "Bring Abdelrazik Home"

Abdelrazik arrives back in Canada after 6 years in the Sudan. From: "Abdelrazik 'very glad to come back home'"

Abusoufian Abdelrazik embraces his 6-year-old son, Kouteyba, at his Montreal home on Sept. 22, 2009. From: "Abousfian Abdelrazik Lives in a Prison without Walls".  Abdelrazik is suing the Government of Canada for $24 million CDN; and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon for $3 million for professional malfeasance; he is petitioning again to have his name removed from the "1267 list".

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?

1 comment:

Wendy said...

We met Abdelrazik in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum. How Canada allowed the USA to bully them into putting this man through hell is pretty bad. We all need to be a bit afraid.


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