Fahmy, Amnesty call for ‘charter’ to protect Canadians jailed overseas

How — and whether — governments help Canadians jailed abroad shouldn't be left to discretion but instead enshrined in law, journalist Mohamed Fahmy said Tuesday as he helped to unveil a proposal to better protect those detained overseas.

OTTAWA — How — and whether — governments help Canadians jailed abroad shouldn’t be left to discretion but instead enshrined in law, journalist Mohamed Fahmy said Tuesday as he helped to unveil a proposal to better protect those detained overseas.

Fahmy is leading an effort by Amnesty International Canada and civil society groups to convince the federal government to adopt a “protection charter” that would govern the rights of those who run afoul of foreign regimes.

The charter would enshrine consular assistance and equal treatment in law and create a transparent set of criteria for Canadians to understand when and how their government would intervene if they are held abroad.

“We all understand the boundaries of diplomacy,” Fahmy told a news conference on Parliament Hill. “All we can hope for is to establish a groundwork that is very clear in terms of when to intervene.”

Fahmy was freed from an Egyptian prison last fall after spending more than a year behind bars on terrorism charges following a court case that was the subject of broad international criticism. He was joined Tuesday in Ottawa by the family members of two other Canadians currently in overseas prisons: Bashir Makhtal in Ethiopia and Huseyin Celil in China.

In both cases, the previous Conservative government intervened vocally, but to no avail. Celil’s wife Kamila Telendibayeva said her 16-year-old son is ill and her youngest has never met his father — Celil was arrested four months before he was born on terrorism charges.

“March 26 this year is 10 years too long, please,” she said, breaking down in tears as she begged the Liberal government for help.

Every Canadian who gets a passport pays a fee earmarked for the provision of consular services, including assistance for those detained while travelling outside Canada.

In their annual performance report published Tuesday, the Global Affairs department said it collected $104 million in such fees in 2014-2015 for services that cost $124 million to provide.

The provision of those services is based on standards first written in the 1990s and which govern everything from how long it should take a consular official to connect with a Canadian’s friends or family or how regularly they should have contact with prisoners.

“Every effort is made to obtain solutions for specific problems and to provide the required service,” the report said.

“However, the department’s ability to do so and its success are conditioned, in many instances, by the laws and regulations of other countries as well as the quality and level of co-operation offered by persons and organizations outside the government of Canada.”

Just Posted

RCMP officer fires his gun in confrontation with suspects near Maskwacis

RCMP were called to Samson First Nation with report of shots fired early on Monday morning

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Except for 1 kick, Saints, Ravens are evenly matched

BALTIMORE — In a matchup between the league’s highest-scoring offence and top-ranked… Continue reading

Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

WASHINGTON — After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television… Continue reading

Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West enter Country Music Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE — Bluegrass and country star Ricky Skaggs, singer Dottie West and… Continue reading

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

LONDON — Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration… Continue reading

Canada deemed U.S. a safe country for asylum seekers after internal review

OTTAWA — Canadian immigration officials have determined that the United States remains… Continue reading

Bombardier sues Mitsubishi over alleged theft of aircraft trade secrets

MONTREAL — Bombardier is suing Mitsubishi Aircraft in the United States over… Continue reading

Three strong earthquakes reported in Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island

Three relatively strong earthquakes were recorded Sunday night in the Pacific Ocean… Continue reading

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Most Read