Review Canada’s no-fly list, report urges – Consultants cite a case of a student who should never have been barred from an Air Canada flight
From The Canadian Press
Transport Canada should carry out a sweeping review of its no-fly list, say independent consultants hired by the department who found a Montreal-area student should never have been barred from an Air Canada flight.
In a stinging assessment of the no-fly list, known as Passenger Protect, independent security advisers Allan Fenske and Wendy Sutton recommend that Transport officials remove Hani Al Telbani’s name from the roster.
The report was commissioned by Transport Canada’s Office of Reconsideration, which reviews complaints from people prevented from flying because of their presence on the no-fly list.
Though completed in October 2008, it has only now come to light through the Federal Court of Canada, where Mr. Al Telbani is suing the government.
The no-fly list, which came into effect in June 2007, is intended to stop people considered a threat to aviation security from boarding a flight originating in or heading to Canada.
The consultants’ report, which calls on Transport Canada to review the process for placing people on the no-fly list, could have serious implications not only for Mr. Al Telbani’s case but for the entire program.
Mr. Al Telbani, 27, of Longueuil, Que., was prevented from boarding an Air Canada flight from Montreal to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, via London, on June 4, 2008.
Within days the master’s student in information system security at Concordia University applied to the Office of Reconsideration and filed suit in the Federal Court, alleging the no-fly program breached guarantees under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A Palestinian national, Mr. Al Telbani held a temporary residence permit in Saudi Arabia, where his parents and sister were living. He was headed there to renew the permit before it expired.
Mr. Al Telbani is the only person publicly known to have been barred from boarding a plane due to being on the no-fly list.
The consultants found:
— The deputy minister of transport, who is responsible for names on the no-fly list, “was not provided with the information necessary” to place Mr. Al Telbani on the roster due to “serious deficiencies” in the file;
— Subsequent decisions of an advisory group that includes members of Transport, the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service to keep him on the list were “made without legal authority”;
— The officer who issued the emergency direction to bar Mr. Al Telbani from flying was not authorized to do so.
In an affidavit filed with the Federal Court in December, Mr. Al Telbani says the government withheld the consultants’ report from his lawyers until June 2009, and undertook the reconsideration process without properly taking the report into account.
The Transport and Justice departments had no immediate comment on the case Friday.
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