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Challenging the UN Security Council

Today, the BCCLA, in conjunction with the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and Abousfian Abdelrazik, will launch a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging the U.N. Security Council’s anti-terrorism sanctions regime, also known as the “1267 Regime”.  The 1267 Regime is designed to limit the rights and freedoms of individuals alleged to have ties with terrorism, and the U.N.’s 1267 Committee maintains a list of such individuals, known as the “1267 List”.

UN Security Council in session / photo: Downing Street

Individuals placed on the 1267 List are subject to, among other things, an asset freeze and an international travel ban.  They must petition the U.N. to access their own funds to pay for food and shelter.  Individuals are placed on this list without notice, and until recently, could not be told why they were even placed on the list to begin with.  Once placed on the 1267 List, individuals have no recourse to judicial – or even independent – review to challenge the listing.  Challenges to a listing are reviewed by an ombudsperson appointed by the U.N. – the very body responsible for compiling the 1267 List in the first place.

The 1267 Regime has drawn criticism from Canada’s Federal Court, the United Nations’ own experts, and the European Court of Justice.  Earlier this year, the House of Lords struck down the domestic implementation of the 1267 Regime in the United Kingdom, criticizing the lack of an effective judicial remedy against a listing by the UN’s 1267 Committee. In March, the Swiss Parliament issued a resolution declaring that Switzerland should not longer participate in the 1267 sanctions regime, as it currently exists.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, a party in this lawsuit, remains the only Canadian citizen on the 1267 List, despite the fact that both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have cleared him of involvement in any criminal activities.  Mr. Abdelrazik was listed on July 31, 2006.

Since his listing, Mr. Abdelrazik has been subjected to an asset freeze at the direction of the Canadian government.  He has had difficulty finding employment because potential employers would have to petition the United Nations for permission to pay his wages.  Recently, the Canadian government attempted to invoke his status on the 1267 List as justification for denial of his Charter rights to return home to Canada; ultimately, the Federal Court rejected Canada’s position and ordered Mr. Abdelrazik’s repatriation.

The 1267 Regime is implemented in Canada through the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations, SOR/99-444.  Section 2 of the United Nations Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. U-2, permits the Governor in Council to make orders or regulations to implement measures requested by the U.N. Security Council.  The requirements set out in Security Council Resolution 1267 and other related Security Council Resolutions are implemented into Canadian law via regulations issued by Order in Council; these regulations are known collectively as the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations.

We are seeking declarations that the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations are of no force and effect based on the following grounds:

  • That they are ultra vires of (that is, outside the rule-making authority granted by) the United Nations Act;
  • That they violate freedom of association as protected by section 2(d) of the Charter;
  • That they violate the rights to liberty and security of the person under section 7 of the Charter in a manner that does not accord with the principles of fundamental justice; and
  • That they violate sections 1(a) and 2(e) of the Canadian Bill of Rights – the right to enjoyment of property and not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with due process of law.