Finally released from Kenya, woman already planning return trip
After 12 gruelling weeks in which she stood accused of posing as the owner of her own passport and was barred from leaving Kenya to return home to her 12-year-old son in Toronto, Suaad Hagi Mohamud finally flew out of Africa Friday night. But she hasnít left her troubles behind.
In a matter of months she hopes to return to care for her ailing mother and to launch lawsuits that will almost certainly keep the memories of her ordeal alive for years.
Even as she waited outside a Nairobi courtroom to learn whether a Kenyan judge would dismiss the charges against her, she planned her return.
Within hours she hoped to be soaring above Nairobi, away from an ordeal that left her mentally exhausted and racked by a case of pneumonia that set in months ago, while she was sleeping on the dank concrete floor of an overcrowded Nairobi prison...
...Hamida Ahmed Muhidin, who said she was the first person Ms. Mohamud called when she was detained at the airport on May 21, ďI donít think I could go to Canada, the way they treat their people. If it could have happened to me, I would find another country.Ē ...
Finally released from Kenya, woman already planning return trip - The Globe and Mail
Ms. Mohamud's case is hardly isolated:
Maher Arar. Omar Khadr. Abousfian Abdelrazik. Huseyin Celil. And now Suaad Hagi Mohamud. These are all Canadian citizens who have been left in the lurch by Canada's consular services around the world.
We're not convinced there's a pattern to this, but we can see why some might detect one: All of these people are non-white, Muslim, first- or second-generation immigrants.
We would prefer to believe, dismaying though these conclusions are, one of these two theories: that the level of competence in Canada's consular offices overseas is at a terrifying low, or that security paranoia has gripped our government so hard that it chooses to brush aside citizens' rights.
Consider what happened to Suaad Hagi Mohamud. After visiting her mother in Kenya, Mohamud, 31, was stopped by a Kenyan airport official who thought she did not look enough like her 4-year-old Canadian passport picture. Fair enough: Mohamud apparently had lost weight recently.
To prove her Canadian citizenship, Mohamud then provided the following: an Ontario driver's licence, a health-care card, a citizenship certificate, a social-insurance card, a credit card, bank cards, a hospital card, a drugstore card, a note from her Toronto employer, and a recently-dated Toronto dry-cleaning receipt.
And yet officials at the Canadian high commission in Kenya chose to reject all her documents, voided her passport, and sent it to local authorities so they could prosecute her for using false travel documents.
Even as Mohamud offered to provide a DNA sample, Canadian officials insisted that it had carried out "conclusive investigations" showing that Mohamud was an imposter. But when the DNA results came in, they showed a 99.99 match between Mohamud and her 12-year-old son in Toronto.
What "conclusive investigations" did Ottawa carry out? What wasn't good enough about the long list of documents Mohamud provided? Even now, Ottawa is making things difficult for her. After leaving her to raise money among the local Somali community to get out of jail, Ottawa won't give her time to collect the bail money and settle her debts, insisting she leave the country immediately...
Canada lets down another citizen abroad
In each of the above cases, the government only acted when they were forced to act by family members or news stories. Sort of makes one wonder how many other Canadians languish in prisons and torture chambers abroad who didn't make the news or had a determined family member fighting on their behalf. As a Canadian who travels abroad frequently, I don't have a lot of confidence that the Canadian government will assist me if I find myself in trouble. I'm also embarassed by our government.
Consider how Americans react when their citizens find themselves in trouble abroad:
President hails 'extraordinary humanitarian effort' by Clinton
Euna Lee is greeted by her husband Michael Saldate and daughter Hana at Bob Hope Airport in California.
Two American journalists freed by North Korea were reunited with their families yesterday after flying home to the US. There were emotional scenes at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, as Euna Lee and Laura Ling were embraced by relatives.
The pair were allowed to leave North Korea after former US President Bill Clinton helped secure their release following months of detention....
President hails 'extraordinary humanitarian effort' by Clinton - Yorkshire Post (external - login to view)