From the Toronto Star
Jul 21, 2009 04:30 AM
A Toronto lawyer is going to court tomorrow to prove Suaad Hagi Mohamud is Suaad Hagi Mohamud.
Raoul Boulakia filed an application in federal court yesterday seeking immediate government help to get his client home from Nairobi.
"We’re asking she be repatriated and the government provide her with travel documents and pay for her travel," said Boulakia. He also filed six signed statements from Mohamud’s family members and friends vouching for her identity.
One of the key issues has been fingerprints. When Mohamud was detained, she insisted her fingerprints be taken so they could be matched with those taken when she applied for Canadian citizenship.
But yesterday, a spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency said they don’t even have her earlier fingerprints.
The spokesperson, who cited privacy laws in declining to comment on Mohamud’s case, said fingerprints are only requested on citizenship applications if there is some question of criminality. "Fingerprints are then destroyed once a citizenship application is closed," Patrizia Giolti said in an email to the Star.
"Then why is the high commission (in Nairobi) pretending they are waiting for fingerprints?" said Boulakia last night. "Why are they wasting our time?"
Mohamud left Toronto on April 29 to visit her mother. She says she was trying to return here May 17 when a Kenyan officer stopped her at the Nairobi airport and said she didn’t look like her four-year-old passport photo.
Her other pieces of Canadian photo ID were also rejected.
She spent eight days in jail and was released on bail with no travel papers. Kenyan officials sent her passport to Canadian consular officials, who said she was an "imposter," voided the passport and sent it back to the Kenyans for prosecution.
The Somali-born Mohamud will be in a Nairobi court on Friday where she could face a jail sentence or even deportation to her lawless native land.
"I have only a few days left – they (her family and lawyer) have to come up with something or I’m doomed," the 31-year-old mother said by phone from Nairobi.
At that time, she didn’t know the Canadian Border Services Agency had revealed that her earlier fingerprints were no longer available.
If there were no earlier prints to compare with, then why did authorities bother to take new ones? The Canadian Border Services Agency did not answer that question yesterday.
But one possible reason might be to try to match them with another set in the database, as a check for a criminal record.
Boulakia is hoping to get some answers in federal court tomorrow.
"This can’t go forever," said the Toronto lawyer. "Imagine being overseas and having no way to prove your Canadian citizenship. It’s a nightmare."
He wants to know why government agencies haven’t checked Mohamud’s identity claims with her 12-year-old son, other family members and friends.
Meanwhile, Liberal MP Dan McTeague came down heavily on the Conservative government saying Mohamud’s case "devalues" Canadian citizenship.
"She’s done her due diligence. I’d like to know what the holdup is," said the MP.
"I know the machinery of government can move a lot quicker if it has to," said McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East).
"It requires intervention at the top end. Where is the foreign minister?"
Instead, federal officials are leaving Mohamud in diplomatic limbo, unwilling to get to the bottom of the potential confusion around her identity, he charged yesterday.
Yesterday, there was confusion in the government ranks over what department was handling the issue.
Staff for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon referred questions to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.
A spokeswoman for Cannon said she had "nothing to add" even though the department had said little previously.
By the end of the day, Van Loan’s staff was referring queries back to Cannon’s office.
With files from Bruce Campion-Smith in Ottawa