From the Toronto Star
Jul 22, 2009 04:30 AM
Stymied at every step to rescue his client from a bureaucratic limbo in Nairobi, a Toronto lawyer is now turning to DNA as the last resort.
"It’s clear now that fingerprints are pointless," said Raoul Boulakia, lawyer for Suaad Hagi Mohamud.
"So I’m asking them to do DNA testing now. I want DNA testing for her, her husband and son. It’s most definitive and ends the debate of who the human being is."
Boulakia, who will be in federal court today to ask the government to bring his client home, also wants Canada to try to stop criminal proceedings against her in Nairobi until DNA testing is completed.
The 31-year-old mother went to Nairobi on April 29 to visit her mother. But when she tried to return May 17, she says a Kenyan officer stopped her at the Nairobi airport for not looking like her four-year-old passport photo.
She spent eight days in jail and was released on bail without any travel papers. Kenyan officials sent her passport to Canadian officials, who said she was an "imposter," then voided the passport and sent it back to Kenya for prosecution.
The Somali-born Mohamud will be in a Nairobi court on Friday.
When Mohamud was detained, she insisted her fingerprints be taken to be verified against ones she gave when she applied for Canadian citizenship.
But on Monday, a spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency said fingerprints are not retained once a citizenship application is closed.
Boulakia is hopeful the "mess" can be sorted out quickly now. "Honestly, DNA could move this (case) forward and simplify it. There is no indication otherwise that it’s being resolved."
He also had an hour-long conference call with a judge yesterday about the case but said he "couldn’t comment on what was discussed."
DNA testing is common for refugees and immigrants to prove family relationships and identity. From 1991 to 2000, DNA testing was used in the cases of almost 8,000 immigrants and refugees entering Canada. Boulakia said it usually takes five days to match DNA samples but only three days if it is expedited. "The big thing here is that a 12-year-old child is without his mother. We need to find answers for him," said Boulakia.
There have been dozens of questions about this case but no answers. During the two months since Mohamud was detained in Nairobi, officials have not said why they can’t repatriate her and charge her with a passport offence. They also haven’t commented on why they believe she is not who she claims to be. Yesterday, several phone calls and emails to the ministries of foreign affairs and public safety went unanswered. An email from a spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency referred the Star to government websites.
Meanwhile, Mohamud said yesterday she had travelled on the same passport to Nairobi twice before in the past four years without any trouble. On the first trip in 2006, she went to Nairobi to visit her dying father. "I first went to Somalia and then flew to Nairobi."
She travelled to Kenya again in November 2007 and returned to Toronto in February last year.
But Mohamud is worried about what will happen in the Nairobi court Friday.
It could mean a jail sentence or even deportation to her lawless native land.
"All I want is to come (home) to my son," she said.