Tuesday, December 16, 2003

AZAN CLARIFICATION

With City Pulse News, Talk Left and Pogge picking up the story of Randolph Azan that I have been posting about for the last day, more people are taking notice and talking about it.

My blog was the first to post on this story but I think its important to let everyone know that I am receiving all of my information from people directly related to this issue but second hand none the less. I am trying to keep all information accurate but I can't make any guarantees. That's my disclaimer.

Now, here's my take on the whole issue, for background start at this post and scroll up. It seems clear that Azan should have been traveling with his Canadian passport. To not do so, particularly when one is not an American citizen opens oneself up to trouble, obviously, but the point is it shouldn't have been as much trouble as he is now facing.

When aked what his citizenship was Azan, accidentally responded 'American.' Whether he did so because he was distracted by something, or flustered by the customs agent, I don't know. Regardless, he quickly corrected himself clarifying that he was an American resident (he had the proper documention) but a Canadian citizen (no passport). At this point it seems as if Azan should have recieved some kind of warning, perhaps a detainment until his citizenship was established. Instead the customs agent threw the book at him. He charged him with 'falsely claiming to be a U.S citizen' and shipped him to a detention centre in Puerto Rico. From there things just got worse. Azan waited 13 days without a court date. During this time he was not given access to legal council, nor Canadian consular officials.

The point is, that while Azan's transgression where relatively small the resulting transgretions by American authorities were much greater. Azan's rights to a speedy court appearance, access to council and consular consultation were denied.

The larger point is that it offers another indication of how the United States is going to deal with foriegn citizens travelling within and through their country. What I'm saying is, if the American response is going to continue to be along these lines then Canada has to make sure its citizens are fully aware of the risks travel to the U.S poses and perhaps change certain policies regarding how we deal with the U.S overall.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:12 PM