André Gauthier - where is he?
Canadian government in the dark about whistleblower’s status
After a long, tense day trying to ascertain whether or not Canadian whistleblower Andre Gauthier had been handed over to UAE custody, multiple calls with the Canadian government failed to provide any information.
Finally, Andre himself managed to call his son Alexis Wednesday evening from the border town of Hatta between Oman and UAE, apparently still in the custody of Omani police.
“Calls with the Consular Adviser to the Foreign Ministry, and with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones revealed that the government had no idea where Andre was,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who are representing Mr. Gauthier. “Over 24 hours since his deportation was reported, we would have expected the Canadian Ambassador to have been in touch with the UAE Interior Ministry to request immediate confirmation once Andre entered their custody, where he would be detained, and to arrange an urgent visit. It appears none of these actions were taken.
“The UAE is a country with documented and endemic human rights abuses, and there is a very real concern about Andre’s safety. Without continuous monitoring of his condition, he may well be subjected to torture, coercion, and be forced to sign a false confession. There have even been deaths in UAE custody, such as that of Briton Lee Bradley Brown. It is disappointing that the Canadian government does not seem to take these risks seriously.”
It remains unclear whether Andre has been transferred into UAE custody, Stirling said. “If he is still in Oman, there is still a chance that the Canadian government can intervene to halt his extradition,” she said.
Goldsmith-Jones told Stirling and Alexis Gauthier on a conference call that Andre’s case is an “urgent situation” and that the government has made it a “priority”. She said that Canadian officials are in touch with their counterparts in the UAE, both from the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defence; but that they are working under “difficult conditions”.
Alexis expressed his exasperation with the lack of progress, “If we did not inform the government that my father’s extradition was underway, I don’t know if they would have even known about it, frankly. He is a prisoner with severely limited telephone access, and he found a way to let me know where he is, while the entire cabinet of the government, with all their resources, had no idea where he is or if he is even safe.”
Andre’s MP Richard Martel commented, “Obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family. We won’t give up until Mr Gauthier is back in the country. I can tell you that certain things have advanced in the last few hours. We have a good relationship with Freeland’s cabinet. It is last minute but it is better than nothing. Be assured, we won’t give up until Mr Gauthier is back in Canada.”
Stirling has proposed that diplomatic intervention with the UAE can be undertaken on the basis of at least three key points. “The cases against Andre are misdirected, they are an honest mistake by complainants who were unaware that Andre was not involved in the fraud they suffered, the UAE government can correct this error; The expert report ordered by the Dubai Ruler’s Court has exonerated Andre, and he should not face re-investigations over the same charges in each individual complaint; Canadian investors rely upon the vigilance of people like Andre to secure their investments in foreign countries, and prosecuting Andre sends a very discouraging signal about the investment environment in the UAE,” she said. “We hope that the Canadian government will proactively take steps, as they have publicly committed to do, to bring Andre home safely.”
André sends an emotional plea en route to UAE