CCLA calls upon Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon to urgently intervene in the case of Nathalie Morin and her three minor children, trapped in Saudi Arabia. Ms. Morin and her three children are all Canadian citizens. CCLA has received information that Nathalie Morin is being severely mistreated and her life may be in danger. CCLA requests Canada to (1) ensure immediate investigation of these allegations; (2) immediately remove Nathalie Morin and her children to a place of safety; and (3) immediately procure independent Saudi legal advice for Ms Morin so she can protect herself and her children and exercise their human rights.
CCLA believes Canada is legally obligated by the UN Charter, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — all ratified by Canada and by Saudi Arabia — to press Saudi Arabia to uphold the human rights of Ms. Morin and her children. Canada is further obligated by its own commitments pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to act to protect Nathalie Morin and her three children.
Nathalie Morin is a 26 year-old Canadian woman with three minor children, all of whom are Canadian citizens. CCLA has received information alleging that Nathalie and one of the children are being abused. She is unable to leave Saudi Arabia with her three children because her male guardian — the father of her children — will not consent. According to Saudi custom, women and children cannot travel without the consent of their male guardian. This custom is a violation of international law. The Saudi government itself has stated that “mahram” is not law, that it recognizes that guardianship is discriminatory, and that Islamic law guarantees the legal capacity and human rights of women. The Saudi government has also stated that Islamic law recognizes the human rights of children and the need to protect their best interests.
Canada and Saudi Arabia have ratified the UN Charter, the CEDAW and the CRC. As a fellow State Party, it is proper for Canada to ask Saudi Arabia to uphold its legal obligations under these treaties. Because Canada is asking Saudi Arabia to implement Saudi legal commitments, the principles of comity are satisfied.
The need for an immediate investigation to determine the potential violations of the CEDAW and the CRC in this case is heightened by the serious allegations of abuse.
CCLA also recommends an investigation of the advice given by Canadian consular officials in Saudi Arabia to Nathalie Morin. The alleged actions of officials turning Ms. Morin away when she sought shelter for herself and her children, and the alleged advice to “work things out with her husband” are highly inappropriate in the context of spousal abuse and may have precipitated the dangers to Ms. Morin’s life and security. In our opinion, it constitutes a participation in and endorsement of the discriminatory custom of “marham”. Prevention of domestic violence should be a priority for consular officials and comes as an obligation under Canadian and international law.
To read CCLA’s letter click here