Human Rights Groups Urge the Canadian Government to bring Al-Qazzaz Family Home
Ottawa, April 12th 2016
Today, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Amnesty International and Children’s Rights Expert and Assistant Professor Tara Collins of Ryerson University held a press conference in Parliament Hill to call on the Honourable Prime Minister to intervene on behalf of four Canadian children.
On March 7th 2016, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Amnesty International, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, Code Pink, Homes Not Bombs, The Group of 78, The Rideau Institute, Toronto Action for Social Change, and UNIFOR sent a letter to the Honourable Prime Minister in his capacity of Minister of Youth to intervene on behalf of the four Canadian children.
Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau
"We appeal to you in your capacity as Minister of Youth. This case involves four innocent Canadian children aged 3, 5, 7 and 9 whose safety is at risk. These children need to heal from the trauma they have endured when their father, Khaled Al-Qazzaz, was taken away from them and held for 558 days solitary confinement,” said the joint letter.
“The Al-Qazzaz family is loved by thousands of Canadians who have actively advocated for them to return home to Canada during the last two years through rallies, post cards, petitions, letter, emails and phone calls.“
Press Conference Video
Monia Mazigh, National Coordinator of the ICLMG:
“So far, we didn’t receive any reply. This is unacceptable. The fate of four Canadian children as well as their mother’s and dad’s are in the hands of the Canadian government and the government is not responding!”
“Today this family faces a huge dilemma. They have to choose between bad and worse. They have to choose between staying in Egypt together or may be coming to Canada and be separated.”
“Fortunately, there is a third choice: Canada’s intervention. Canada using its new ‘Responsible Conviction’ principle to show Canadians and the world, that we act responsibly when tragedy like this one happens. We act responsibly, swiftly and with strong conviction so that human rights are respected.”
Alex Neve, General Secretary of Amnesty International Canada:
“Khaled AL-Qazzaz, Sarah Attia and their four young children have been trapped in a frightening and confusing labyrinth of human rights violations, injustice, secrecy and fear in Egypt for nearly three years now.”
“He needs to be sure that the Canadian government is sparing no effort to resolve his case and bring him home. His wife, Sarah Attia, and their four young children all Canadian citizens are suffering alongside their husband and father. His fear is their fear, his suffering is their suffering, and his inability to leave Egypt stands in the way of their return to Canada as well. The Canadian government must intervene actively on their behalf to insist their rights are fully protected including their freedom of movement and their rights to family life.”
“This has to end! And that requires strong action from the Canadian government at senior levels including from foreign affairs Minister Stephane Dion insisting that this family be allowed to return to home to Canada.”
Tara Collins, Children’s Rights Expert and Assistant Professor:
“Four of these children need to be remembered in this situation. They are living a life of instability and fear not knowing what is going to happen to their father with imminent risk of future harm as well as the fact that their family could be torn apart again. It is incredibly important that the Government of Canada respond appropriately to the provisions of international law and specifically the convention on the rights of the child to think and act and respond to the children's best interest.”
“I urge the government of Canada to pay attention to the images of these four children and respond to them. They need their parents. They need the peace and security that Canada can offer.”
Ahmad Attia, family member:
“I could never imagine that one day our family, who has given so much to our country, would find ourselves in many ways abandoned by our government. While the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt has worked relentlessly to resolve this, here in Ottawa little has been done escalate the matter.”
“The Canadian government has asked us to bring Sarah and the children home, leaving Khaled behind. But I cannot comprehend the impact on the children when they are split from their father again - not knowing when and if Khaled will ever be able to join them. The Canadian Government has a moral and legal responsibility to protect the rights of these children and facilitate their safe return with their father. “
“I have been urging the Canadian government to intervene for months to end this ordeal but to no avail. Today I am holding the Canadian government responsible for their safety. There are no legal barriers - Khaled did not commit any crime and was never charged. The resolution boils down to political will.”
The joint letter by human rights groups concluded with a final ask to the Prime Minister:
“Canadians are waiting for you to bring a resolution to this problem. Prime Minister, on behalf of thousands of Canadians across the country whose hearts have been touched by the family, we implore you to everything in your power to help end this ordeal and bring this family home."
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