UFCW Canada stands with Abousfian Abdelrazik and the CLC against UN black list

Abousfian Abdelrazik's Statement to the UN 1267 Committee.

UFCW Canada – Canada’s largest private-sector union – has joined the Canadian Labour Congress and other leading organizations in calling on the United Nations to immediately remove Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik from a UN Committee black list that affronts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the spring of 2003, Abousfian went to Khartoum, Sudan, to visit his sick mother. Shortly before he was due to return to Canada he was arrested. According to the Lawyers Weekly, "documents reveal that Sudanese officials arrested him at Canada’s request". The People's Commission on Immigration and Security Measures notes that Mr. Abdelrazik was, "repeatedly beaten and tortured" in Sudanese custody.

When finally returned home to Canada, Abousfian was placed on a crippling “watch list” maintained by the UN Committee 1267. People named to the UN’s black list are prevented from travelling, holding a bank account, and working.

Abousfian’s bank account – with more than $10,000 in it, an amount that was left to him by his wife, who died of cancer – has now been frozen at the behest of the Canadian government.

“The CLC has been a leading voice in calling on the UN to operate within the rule of law by presuming innocence before guilt is determined,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “UFCW Canada wholeheartedly supports the CLC in defending human rights and in demanding a new approach that respects human rights, which must include due process.”

During a recent two-hour meeting with the UN 1267 Committee in New York City, the CLC and other leading organizations stressed the urgency of removing Abousfian from the black list and pointed out the obvious inconsistencies of the blacklisting regime with the founding principles of the United Nations as articulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration includes the right to freedom and a fair trial, the prohibition on torture, as well as rights to security of person, to earn a living, and to free association.

“Mr. Abdelrazik remains on the United Nations black list of suspected terrorists. That, according to the Canadian government, gives it the right to seize his assets and make it a crime to employ him. But he isn’t entitled to know why he’s on the black list or who put him there. And he doesn’t have any right to challenge those unknown accusations,” says Karl Flecker, the CLC’s Director of Anti-Racism and Human Rights.

During the hearings, the members of the 1267 Committee were suddenly brought face to face with Mr. Abdelrazik via a personal video message, in which he invited those present “to walk in my shoes. I invite you to come to live with me for one day …. I am sure this is going to touch you, because you are human beings. Please, I have suffered enough. I want to end this suffering.”