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Canada: Pressure mounts to get children off no-fly list

From Al Jazeera - November 6, 2017

Parents whose children's names match ones on Canada's no-fly list have taken their fight for a redress system to Ottawa, saying their "patience is wearing thin" with the Canadian government.

The children and their parents were on Parliament Hill on Monday, calling on Canada to establish an independent, digital redress system to deal with the undue delays and problems they face at airports because they are falsely flagged as being on the list.

"Our patience is wearing thin now. We have been very, very patient ... We ca not wait forever," said Karen Ahmed, whose 19-year-old son, Adam, has faced delays and trouble checking in for flights for years.

The families also delivered a petition signed by prominent Canadians and said they have the support of nearly 180 parliamentarians across party lines, or more than half of all MPs in the House of Commons.

Canada's no-fly list system is known officially as the Passenger Protect Program.

It gives the Minister of Public Safety the power to flag a person if he or she is believed to be involved in anything that threatens transportation security or is attempting to travel abroad to commit "terrorism offences".

While Ahmed's son is technically not on the list, someone with the same name is.

"Because he shares the same name, he gets flagged every single time he flies," Ahmed told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview over the weekend.

"It's almost as bad as being on the list, but we have no course to rectify it," she added.

In 2014, the family nearly missed a flight home from India after Adam was flagged and could not check in with his family members at the airport, Ahmed said.

She said her biggest fear is that her son, who turns 20 in March, wants to travel on his own and she will not be able to protect him.

"He's going to go on school trips or with his friends ... and what happens if he gets detained somewhere and I have no control over trying to get him back?" Ahmed said.

"It's quite a scary situation."

Canada pledges to set up redress system

Last June, Ottawa established an inquiries office to assist travellers who have experienced travel delays because their names match ones on the list.

At the time, the government said travellers could apply for a unique identification number, which could be used when booking tickets and at the airport to avoid delays. It said the system would take up to 18 months to fully implement.

The false positives have led people to miss flights, experience delays at airports and have their passports confiscated. Many also ca not check-in online or at airport kiosks and are forced to undergo additional security checks.

The families say as many as thousands of Canadians are being falsely flagged, including dozens of children, some of whom are only a few weeks old.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Canada's Minister of Public Safety, told Al Jazeera that, "work on long-term improvements to the system continues".

#NoFlyListKids campaign grows

No Fly List Kids (@NoFlyListKids) November 6, 2017

'Only a first step'

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