Syrian-born Canadian engineer Maher Arar has filed a $31 million lawsuit against the governments of Syria and Jordan for violating his human rights through the State Immunity Act.
Suspected of being an Al-Qaeda operative, Arar was taken into custody at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on September 26, 2002, and deported to Jordan, where he claims he was detained and beaten upon arrival. He was then transferred to Syria where he was incarcerated for a year and allegedly tortured.
According to a statement of claim, Arar seeks $25 million in joint punitive damages, five million dollars from Syria for kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, torture and death threats and another one million dollars from Jordan for kidnapping, illegal confinement, assault and torture, reported Toronto Star.
Federal law in Canada currently prevents foreign governments from being sued in local courts. Arar and his lawyer are asking Ottawa to change the law. The Department of Justice is reportedly examining the case.
Arar is not the first North American resident to press human rights violations charges against foreign governments. Two US citizens are moving forward with a lawsuit against the Libyan government, claiming that the authorities tortured them during a four month prison sentence they completed in the Arab state in 1980. Both men are demanding $20 million each in compensation. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )