Mother of woman allegedly trapped in Saudi Arabia sues
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, April 14, 2009 6:10PM EDT
MONTREAL - The mother of a Quebec woman allegedly held captive against her will in Saudi Arabia is threatening to file a lawsuit to force the federal government to bring her daughter home.
Johanne Durocher and her supporters argued Tuesday that Ottawa has breached its duty to protect Canadian citizens under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Durocher played a message from her daughter, Nathalie Morin, to a news conference.
"I want to return to Canada as soon as possible with my three children," a distressed Morin, 24, is heard saying in the recording, which is taped from a telephone line.
Durocher maintains her daughter and her Canadian-born child have been held captive by her Middle Eastern husband since 2005.
Morin has since given birth to two more children in Saudi Arabia, one of whom, her mother alleges, was conceived by rape.
Durocher also says her grandchildren are malnourished.
"We're not just talking about a woman who can no longer go out or a father who wants to raise his children in accordance with his culture -- the Canadian government is allowing four Canadians to be hostages, mistreated, tortured," she said.
A Canadian official sought to broker a deal between the couple when he visited them before Christmas but details of their discussions were not released.
Durocher charges the government hasn't done enough and said Ottawa cannot keep justifying its inaction in Morin's case with the excuse it must respect the laws of Saudi Arabia.
The Foreign Affairs Department said in an email Tuesday that consular officials have been assisting Morin since she returned to Saudi Arabia in October 2006.
A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said that since February 2008 officials have been in contact with Morin via telephone or email more than 100 times and have been in touch with Durocher on more than 220 occasions.
"Nathalie Morin has been involved in a complex family dispute in Saudi Arabia," Catherine Loubier said in an email.
"Consular officials have advised Ms. Morin that she and the father of her children must resolve the issue of child custody through appropriate Saudi legal channels before we can facilitate the children's return to Canada."
Loubier said that under Saudi law a father must give his approval before his wife or children can leave the country.