As of November 30, Abousifan Abdelrazik is rid of one of his shackles. Most readers—indeed, most Canadians—will be at least vaguely familiar with Abdelrazik. A Canadian citizen, Abdelrazik is one of several emblematic post-9/11 “national security” fiascos. He was flagged for his acquaintance with alleged terrorists, and testified against Ahmed Ressam. He is a dual citizen of Sudan, and returned there in 2003, which is when his troubles really began. He was arrested by Sudanese officials, detained and tortured, with the knowing indifference if not complicity of the Canadian government, who then obstructed his attempt to return to Canada until 2009. One of the reasons suggested for disallowing his return was that in 2006 he was placed on the 1267 Consolidated List—a bald-faced misrepresentation, given that allowing a person to return to his or her country of citizenship is an explicit exception to the travel ban. So what is this list, exactly?
In October 1999, the UN Security Council—one of the few truly binding international authorities—issued United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267. The date may come as a surprise, since the subject of the resolution was Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Resolution, which was adopted unanimously, ordered all states to impose measures that included denying Taliban-owned aircraft to land or take-off, freeze financial resources owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the Taliban, and established a committee to monitor the subjects of the Resolution. Additional Resolutions and developments added Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-related entities to the list, and the most recent Resolution (Resolution 1989 of 17 June 2011) restricted the list to Al-Qaeda only.
Beginning in 2002, the 1267 Committee began issuing a Consolidated List. The list contains information about individuals associated with Al-Qaeda (Part A) and “Entities and other groups and undertakings” associated with Al-Qaeda (Part B). Previously there were matching lists for the Taliban.
How do you get on the list? Member states propose names, and they are considered by the committee. Until 2006, this was a shadowy process with no guidelines or review. This process raised many concerns, because of the highly-politicized nature of the subject-matter, and the lack of transparency or oversight. There were criticisms of both the equity and efficacy of the list. Among the critics was Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, who in 2008 stated that “’Blacklisting’ is indeed a striking illustration of how human rights principles have been ignored in the fight against terrorism.” He also summarized the lack of due process:
There has recently been a move towards something more closely approximating the rule of law. In 2006, Resolution 1730 and Resolution 1735 established guidelines and a de-listing procedure. In 2009, further changes were made, adding an Ombudsperson to provide some small level of oversight and adding narrative summaries to the public listing.
The 1267 Committee is, as Hammarberg pointed out, an inter-governmental entity. This means that while listed persons can technically apply without the support of their home government, said support would be useful. Abdelrazik has been cleared by CSIS and RCMP, and the Canadian government did say at one point that it would help him apply to be delisted, but it later rescinded that offer.
Now that the Ombudsperson is in place, delisting applications can be made to her. Somewhat ironically, the current Ombudsperson, Judge Kimberly Prost, is a former Canadian Federal Department of Justice employee.
All it takes to block an application for delisting is the opposition of a single Security Council member, and since those are the same people who put people on the list, applicants face a huge obstacle right from the beginning. But it seems that Judge Prost’s report on Abdelrazik was persuasive, despite the fact that no details appear to have been released. The Ombudsperson website didn’t list him as delisted, but rather as an ongoing case (Case 7) as of the time of writing, and the 1267 Committee had not issued a press release. So even while he celebrates the imminent lifting of the crippling asset freeze and travel ban that have plagued him since his 2009 return to Canada, Abousifan Abdelrazik, like the rest of us, will still have to wonder why.
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