Monday, January 11, 2010

Delay marks attempts to seek redress from wrongful inclusion on "no fly list"

In May 2004, Toronto born architect and cartoonist Shahid Mahmood was unexpectedly prohibited from flying from Vancouver to Victoria on an Air Canada flight. At that time, there was no official "no fly list" in Canada.

CBC's The Current did a story on his ordeal and the issue of "no fly lists." Click here to listen to the story.

Amnesty International has also commented on the case. See "Amnesty calls for implementation of Arar Commission recommendations for improved review of national security issues in Canada - Open Letter."

In November of 2007, Mahmood asked the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate. See "Shahid Mahmood To File Human Rights Complaint Against Air Canada Over Canada’s Unofficial No-Fly List."

More than two years later, he finally heard back from the Commission and learned the reason he was prevented from flying was because he had been “flagged” as a potential security risk.

Over the years, Air Canada provided several conflicting reasons as to why Mahmood was prohibited from being a passenger on one of their flights – all of which have proven to be unfounded. Nevertheless, Air Canada has maintained that they do not engage in racial profiling and have not provided redress for Mahmood in any way.

Despite that Mahmood has since flown (although not to the U.S.), his ordeal highlights the inadequacy of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to promptly respond to claims made. It has now agreed to conduct an inquiry. This lack of timeliness is clearly unacceptable for a body that has been created to ensure that human rights of Canadians are protected.

The Tribunal’s tardiness has only added salt to a very open wound.

Posted by Claire Doughty (Law II)

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