Friday, March 11, 2016

After two months, 6 year old Canadian child still remains on no-fly list

Syed Adam Ahmed is still having troubles because he is on a no-fly list even after considerable publicity about his case. The Liberal Public Safety minister, Ralph Goodale, promised to look into the matter two months ago.

Back in early January. Digital Journal had an article about Ahmed's problem. However, on Friday the six-year-old with his parents was unable to check in online for an Air Canada flight to Edmonton from Toronto. The family was traveling to a wedding on the weekend. Ahmed's mother, Khadija Cajee tweeted: “Our 6 year old is still on #NoFlyListKids. Still flagged at online checkin. When does it stop?” She also told the CBC:
 'He still is not afforded the same right to check in online as any other six-year-old child. When I go to try to check in, it gives me a security warning stating that the status cannot be completed and to see an agent at the airport. And that, we know, is because he's been flagged because he's on the list,"
The situation is somewhat improved in the boy and his family no longer have to go through several layers of security checks. However, he can still not check in online and he still has to be visually identified by airline staff. Cajee told 680 news: “He still needs to be visually identified, He’s just a child, he’s done nothing wrong.” When Cajee told the agent at the check-in counter on Saturday morning that Syed was on the no-fly list, she was told the family was cleared to fly: "They did need to see his face, but they didn't need to make an additional security call to have him cleared for check-in, so one of those steps has been eliminated...He still is not afforded the same right to check in online as any other six-year-old child in this country is afforded, so he`s still being marginalized in that respect."
Ahmed's problems have been ongoing since he was a toddler. Neither airlines nor government officials have given the family an explanation as to why Ahmed is on the list. The family assumes that their son has a name similar to that of someone rightfully on the watch list. Ahmed's case is far from unique. When his case received publicity around two dozen other families came forward with similar stories. Cajee would like to see her son's name removed completely from the no-fly list.
Goodale had sent a letter to the family in February telling them he informed airlines that additional security validation is not required for passengers younger than 18. While this has meant there is now less hassle there are still problems as noted. Goodale also said the government was exploring changes to the Secure Air Travel regulations that would help differentiate regular travels from individuals on the no-fly list with the same or similar names. Adding birth dates, addresses or social security numbers to security data could achieve this. Cajee worries that the government appears not to be able to quickly establish a way of distinguishing children from people with similar names who may be a genuine threat to the Canadian public.
Another factor makes it difficult for the Canadian government on its own to solve some of the issues. Ahmed and others may be appearing on a foreign list such as the US no-fly list, or even lists that the airlines themselves keep.
Another family with a son whose last name is Ahmed has the same problems as Syed Adam Ahmed. He has been constantly flagged since a youth but is now turning 18 in March.. Karen Ahmed the mother of Adam Ahmed is worried that once he is an adult the situation will be worse. While at first the family laughed off the extra security, they no longer do as they almost missed a flight home from India because their son had been flagged.
Goodale's spokesperson, Scott Bardsley, said the minister were aware of concerns such as those of the two Ahmed families but he gave no timeline for implementation of promised reforms.

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