12 August 2009

Canadian muslim woman faces passport horror

Tue Aug 11, 7:43 PM

By Trevor Pritchard And Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - After being holed up in a Nairobi hotel room for days on end, the only thing Suaad Hagi Mohamud wants to do is be with her 12-year-old son. But her lawyer says there's a good chance the Toronto woman, who has been marooned in Kenya for almost three months, could be home this weekend.

Mohamud, 31, has been detained in Kenya since May after authorities said her lips did not match her four-year-old passport photo. Canadian consular officials called her an imposter, voided her passport and turned her case over to Kenya for prosecution.

As Mohamud frantically handed over numerous pieces of identification, offered fingerprints and finally demanded her DNA be tested, Canada maintained its original stance that she was not who she claimed to be.

"What kind of country does that - separating a mother and her son?" she asked from her room in Nairobi. Mohamud said a good friend was taking care of her son in Toronto. But her life was in limbo as she spent all her time and energy trying to convince authorities in Kenya and Canada of her identity.

"The first thing I'm going to do (when I get back to Canada) is visit my boy," said Mohamud, who was incredulous that Ottawa doubted her in the first place.

Ottawa is now preparing emergency travel documents to bring Mohamud back to her Toronto home, a day after a genetic tests confirmed her identity. Mohamud's Canadian lawyer Raoul Boulakia said an agreement in principle had been reached for Canada to resolve the Kenyan charges laid against Mohamud.

The charges, which include using another person's passport and being in Kenya illegally, were laid as a result of Canadian consular officials calling Mohamud an impostor. "(The government) talked to the Kenyan officials to issue emergency travel documents," said Boulakia. "It's a substantial improvement."

But while he was pleased with the progress made, Boulakia said he would not be taking anything for granted until his client was on Canadian soil. "We've got an agreement in principle," he said. "It's just a matter of how quickly it's done."

Boulakia will hold a teleconference with the Federal Court case management judge Wednesday morning to see if Kenyan authorities agreed to free Mohamud from her bond. He said he also plans to appear in Federal Court Thursday with a motion demanding the government repatriate his client back to Canada within 48 hours.

Boulakia said he will withdraw his motion only if Mohamud is put on a flight to Toronto before Thursday. "I believe things when I see them," he said.

Tracie LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said travel documents were being prepared for Mohamud, although she could not say whether they included a new passport.

Nor could LeBlanc say when Mohamud would be arriving back in Canada.

"I don't know at this time (but) I think it's safe to say that the process has begun," she said. The Somalian-born Mohamud had been visiting her mother in Kenya and was about to fly back to Canada when officials stopped her May 21 in the Nairobi airport, claiming she was not the same person pictured in her four-year-old passport photo. At issue was the size of her lips.

After her case was handed over to Kenyan authorities Mohamud spent eight days in jail before being released on bail, albeit without travel documents.

Results of a DNA test released Monday - one that compared Mohamud's genetic makeup with that of her son - showed a 99.9 per cent match between the two.

Canada footed the $800 bill for the genetic testing. While getting Mohamud home as soon as possible is his top priority, Boulakia said there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up once his client touches down in Canada.

Investigating how Canadian consular officials determine the identity of Canadian citizens and digging up the end result of the Nairobi investigation into Mohamud's case are just some of the issues to consider, he said.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions."


  1. wthell?

    Subhannallah. May Allah swt put the sister's affairs in order. ameen

  2. What a joke. There are people who travel on the passports of others, but it should have been obvious that this poor woman didn't have any evil intentions.
    I'm pretty sure she's Somali. They get treated like crap when travelling internationally. Last year my friend and his dad went to the UK. The father was allowed entry, but the son was considered suspect and told he couldn't leave Heathrow and had to take the next flight back to Los Angeles. It was ridiculous. People are also jailed with no explanation with no information given to their families.
    Makes me scared to travel anymore.

  3. this is ridiculous. I'm disappointed in Canada right now -

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