Secure Fawzi and Dina's Immediate Return Home
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Emergency call for solidarity:
On April 13th, 2019, two of my sister’s children, namely Fawzi and Dina, were abducted by my sister’s ex-husband, Achraf Zeidan, and taken to Lebanon against their will. At the time of the abduction, the children were protected by a Superior Court of Justice court order that stipulated that the kids are not to leave Essex County.
Despite the court order, the Canada Border Services Agency officers failed to ask for a consent letter and failed to prevent the abductor from leaving the country, therefore enabling the abductor to breach the court order.
Over twenty years ago, in April of 1998, the then-standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade presented a report titled: International Child Abduction: Issues for Reform. The report made 14 recommendations on how the federal government could improve its handling of international child abduction cases. One of the recommendations emphasized beefing up security checks on parents travelling alone with children, in conjunction with airlines and border-control agencies both here and abroad. Over 20 years later, the federal government is yet to take heed, and innocent children are paying the consequences.
Since the abduction, my sister has obtained full custody of the children from the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario and the Lebanese Civil Court. She has also obtained a Return Order stipulating that the children are to be returned to Canada immediately by the Lebanese Civil Court.
Unfortunately, Lebanon has shown a clear record on non-compliance with dozens of unresolved abduction cases from North America. Specifically, the competent authorities in Lebanon have persistently failed to execute the return order, which was the verdict of the Lebanese Civil Court.
We see it as the responsibility of the Canadian government to take the steps to ensure the safe return of Fawzi and Dina, whom are solely Canadian citizens.
Canada is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 4 states that Canada has a responsibility to make sure the rights of Canadian children are protected. Article 36 states that Canada must protect Canadian children from any kind of exploitation.
My sister, Khawla Khalifa, has campaigned and advocated on behalf of her children tirelessly. She has had numerous meetings with several federal ministers and members of parliament to no avail. There has been no meaningful and concrete steps taken by the Canadian government to try to influence their Lebanese counterparts in executing a return order which was mandated by their own Civil Court.
There has been no public statement issued asking Lebanese authorities to fulfill their obligations. There have been no official protests through diplomatic channels. There has been no withdrawal of Canadian foreign assistance to Lebanon despite their clear record of non-compliance.
The Canadian government has clearly not prioritized the safety of two Canadian children, and therefore we are publicly calling upon them to reassess how they’ve handled the matter and give it the importance it deserves.
We’ve held meetings or have had correspondence with the following public officials:
· Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
· François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs
· Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
· Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
· Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
· Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Public Service Renewal) and to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
· Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs)
· Ralph Goodale, Former Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
· Brian Masse, Member of Parliament, Windsor West
· Office of Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
· Executive Assistant, Office of the Prime Minister
To that end, we are asking all community leaders, organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals to support the cause by signing this petition, which will be distributed to the aforementioned public officials.
We have one ask: That the Canadian government publicly demand their Lebanese counterparts to facilitate the immediate return of Fawzi and Dina to their habitual residence of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Furthermore, we encourage you to contact these ministers and express your concerns personally, please feel free to utilize portions of this letter.
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Thank you for all your support!
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