Thursday, August 13, 2009

Harper says first priority is to get Mohamud home.

This is truly a bizarre case. I simply cannot fathom why the issue could not have been cleared up earlier. It seems very much as if the Kenyans were simply angy they did not get a bribe but why the consular officials turned her over to the Kenyans when she had plenty of other identification and they could surely have made inquiries. Instead they turn over over to the Kenyans and do nothing to get her released it would seem. Canada has a fickle inconsistent record as far as intervening on behalf of Canadians charged with offences abroad as the rest of the article (not included here) shows. Harper is no doubt right that the immediate priority should be to get Mohamud home but he also needs to reform his policies and the actions of Canadian officials.

Harper says 'first priority' to get Mohamud home - Canada - Harper says 'first priority' to get Mohamud home
Canadian citizen Suaad Hagi Mohamud discusses her identity struggle inside of a Kenyan guesthouse Aug. 13, 2009.
Accounting ordered of role played by Border Services Agency in case of Canadian woman stranded in Kenya for nearly three months
August 13, 2009 Iain MarlowAllan WoodsJohn GoddardStaff Reporters
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today the Canada Border Services Agency will have to answer for its role in the plight of a Canadian woman marooned in Kenya for nearly three months.
"Our first priority as a government is obviously to see her get on a flight back to Canada," Harper said in Kitchener today, referring to Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Canadian citizen who was detained because Kenyan and Canadian officials there thought she did not look like her passport photo.
"In the case of the Canadian Border Service Agency," Harper continued, "I know that minister (of public safety Peter) Van Loan is asking that organization for a full accounting of their actions in this case and we'll obviously review those."
Based on what officials at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi said were "conclusive investigations including an interview," Mohamud was branded an "imposter." Her passport was handed over to Kenyan officials for prosecution on charges of improper use of a travel document.
Harper said that Canadian officials are eager to resolve "what is not an easy case" and to get Mohamud back to Canada.
Kenyan authorities are expected to drop all charges against the woman tomorrow, clearing the way for her to be reunited with her 12-year-old son in Toronto.
Neither Van Loan nor Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who has responsibility for managing all consular cases involving Canadians in need of help abroad, have commented on the case since Mohamud's identity was confirmed through a DNA test that showed she was a 99.99% match with her son.
Mohamud, a Somali-Canadian, was branded an impostor by staff of the Canadian High Commission in Kenya because she did not resemble her passport photograph. Her lips were different from the four-year-old picture, as were her eyeglasses.
In a telephone interview from Nairobi yesterday, Mohamud gave further details of the event that started her ordeal when she tried to board a KLM flight home on May 21 after a three-week visit to Kenya.
A Kenyan KLM employee stopped her. "He told me he could make me miss my flight," she said of the KLM worker, who suggested Mohamud didn't look like her passport photo.
He seemed to be soliciting a bribe, she said, an experience Somali-born Torontonians say is commonplace for them at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
When she didn't pay, a Kenyan immigration official arrested her. Canadian consular officials went along, returning Mohamud to the Kenyans, who threw her in jail on charges of entering Kenya illegally on a passport not her own.
On Monday, DNA tests proved Mohamud's identity.
Yesterday at the high commission, officials continued to treat Mohamud with indifference, a friend who drove her there said.
When Mohamud asked if Canada might help her retrieve her luggage, seized when she was unable to pay her room bill while trying to prove her identity, consular officials refused, the friend said.
In Toronto, lawyer Raoul Boulakia said a friend of his has arranged to pay the bill as a donation.
The Kenyans also owe her $2,500 (U.S.) in bail money, posted after she spent eight days in June at Nairobi's Langata Women's Prison.
Mohamud said the high commission advised her yesterday to stay in the country until she collected the money from Kenya, a process that could take weeks. But Boulakia said he told her to get out of the country first and get the high commission to collect it for her later.
The case highlights the often-puzzling approach the Conservative government takes when deciding which citizens imprisoned or stranded in foreign countries are entitled to high-level help. ........................
With files from Robert Benzie

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