Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Judicial Review of Security Council Blacklists

Abdelrazik v. Canada is a most interesting decision of the Federal Court of Canada, issued on 4 June 2009: http://cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca/rss/T72708%20Decision.pdf. It concerns a Canadian citizen of Sudanese origin who has been living in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum for some time. He cannot leave the embassy because of a fear of torture in Sudan, and he cannot return to Canada because the Canadian government refuses to issue him a passport. The Canadian government says it cannot facilitate his travel because Abdelrazik’s name is on a ‘no-fly list’ of the so-called 1267 Committee, established by the United Nations Security Council. Judge Zinn writes: ‘I add my name to those who view the 1267 Committee regime as a denial of basic legal remedies and as untenable under the principles of international human rights.’ (at para. 51). The judge concludes that the Canadian government has badly interpreted Security Council Resolution 1267, and that this does not prevent Abdelrazik from returning to Canada. He orders that a travel document be issued. The Canadian constitution guarantees to all citizens the right to return to Canada. This is a great example of judicial review of the draconian regime set up by the Security Council in the name of counter-terrorism.
Thanks to Christopher Ryan.


Luciano Vaz Ferreira said...

Dear Professor Schabas:

Very interesting situation. One of the greatest debates of international law is about the relationship between national / municipal law.

How can a canadian court decide against a international organization, responsable to keep the world peace?

The Security Council is a political body. Despite being important to the international security, it decides for political reasons.

We cannot forget that the U.N. system is tied down by Human Rights. The protection of the human being is one of the "core values" of the U.N. Charter. There are a lot of international manifestations that garantee: the universal declaration, the international covenant on civil and political rights, etc. Both of treaties were created by U.N. actions.

The judicial review, the freedom of movement and the right of asylum are components of Human Rights. Due the lack of a "international judicial review", in the U.N. system (because the ICJ´s problems), I think is fair to a national court decides for the protection of human rights. In this case, a argument of authority (mantain the international security...) cannot prevail.

It is not only about a enforcemment of a municipal law (as the "Canadian Charter") but to keep something that sustain the international order: the universal values of human rights, garantee by treaties and customary law.

Great blog! I just have found, I will keep accessing.

Luciano Vaz

Timur Shakirov said...

If, as the court decided, "CSIS was complicit in the detention of Mr. Abdelrazik by the Sudanese authorities in 2003", why didn't the Court order an investigation and possibly punishment of those responsible for it?