Saturday, July 10, 2010

Human Rights: U.S. Muslims warned of 'Forced Exile'

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today issued a travel advisory to American Muslims warning of the risk of "forced exile" when traveling overseas or attempting to return to the United States.

CAIR is also urging Muslim travelers to know their legal rights if they are placed on the so-called "no-fly list."

In the past few months, CAIR has received a number of reports of American Muslims stranded overseas when they are placed on the government's no-fly list. Those barred from returning to the United States report being denied proper legal representation, being subjected to FBI pressure tactics to give up the constitutionally-guaranteed right to remain silent, having their passports confiscated without due process, and being pressured to become informants for the FBI.

These individuals tell CAIR they have not been told why they were placed on the no-fly list or informed how to remove their names from the list.

Cases of American Muslims Barred from U.S.

American Man in Limbo on No-Fly List (NY Times)

U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad (Wash. Post)

FBI agents have reportedly told a number of individuals that they face being stranded outside the United States longer, or forever, unless they give up their rights to legal representation or to refuse interrogations and polygraph tests. But even those who submitted to interrogations without an attorney or to the "lie detector" tests remain stranded.

CAIR cooperated with the ACLU on its recently-filed lawsuit challenging the lack of due process in placing travelers on the no-fly list.

SEE: ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Unconstitutional 'No Fly List'

"We ask President Obama to review this disturbing new policy that denies American Muslims their constitutional rights and due process of law," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

He said American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security, and also value civil rights.

"All Americans have the constitutional right to due process and to re-enter their own country," said Awad.

In its travel advisory, CAIR began by stating that it is a Muslim's religious and civic duty to report criminal activity or security threats. It also recommends that any Muslim traveling overseas obtain the cell phone number of an American attorney who would be available for consultation if that person is barred from returning to the United States.

Other points in CAIR's travel advisory include understanding the voluntary nature of FBI interviews, the benefits of consulting an attorney before being questioned by the FBI, the fact that anything said in an interview with an agent can be used in a court of law, and that lying to a law enforcement agent is a criminal offense.

CAIR's advisory recommends that any Muslim traveler who believes his or her rights were violated file complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and with the Department of State. Family members of those detained overseas are urged to contact the traveler's elected representatives to seek assistance.

The advisory also contains resources offering information about the law and how it relates to being interviewed by law enforcement agencies.

Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations