Rights Panel Slams U.S. Security Vetting

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A Canadian human rights panel has ruled that Bombardier violated the rights of a man who was denied flight training because he was on a U.S. list of suspected security threats. According to the Globe and Mail, one member of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal said Bombardier should have ignored warnings from the U.S. about Javed Latif, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, and conducted its own assessment of whether Latif posed a threat. Bombardier was ordered to pay Latif $319,000 CAD in compensation. Latif applied in 2004 to train on Challenger 604 business jets at Bombardier's Montreal facility under his U.S. pilot certificate and was rejected after background checks revealed his status as a suspected security threat. He then applied under his Canadian pilot's licence and was rejected again because of the U.S. designation. That's when the rights violation occurred, according to the tribunal. "Those rules do not apply here in Canada, were not adopted here in Canada by Canadian law," said Athanassia Bitzakadis, the lawyer who represented the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which brought the case before the tribunal, the Globe and Mail said. "So Bombardier cannot simply refer to those rules to justify a discriminatory decision to refuse to someone a service, a service that they offer to everyone here in Quebec." Latif was taken off the security list in 2008 and has since trained at Bombardier three times.

Much of the tribunal's decision rested on its opinion that the U.S. system for designating security threats is prejudicial, racist and secretive. University of Windsor Prof. Reem Bandhi, whom the tribunal considers an expert on U.S. security apparatus, told the tribunal that unless there are specific reasons cited for a person's inclusion on a U.S. security list, it must be considered discriminatory because discrimination is at the heart of the U.S. system for assessing security threats. She cited the National Security Entry and Exit Regulation System, which requires people from certain countries to register upon entering and exiting the U.S. All of those countries are Muslim, she said. Meanwhile Latif, who's been a pilot for 30 years, was unaware of the proceedings. He flies for a Middle Eastern airline and was not at the hearings.