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Please read the following case and help me to answer a question at the bottom: Canadian...

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maxxxzh | eNoter

Posted October 7, 2013 at 10:40 PM via web

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Please read the following case and help me to answer a question at the bottom:

Canadian William Sampson was arrested in Saudi Arabia in December 2000, allegedly for his involvement in two car bombings related to illegal trade in liquor.  One British man, Christopher Rodway, was killed in one of the bombings.  Sampson confessed to the crime, but there was strong evidence that his confession was obtained through torture.  He was sentenced to death.  In mid-2002, it appeared that the Canadian government’s attempts to secure Sampson’s release would fail.  In the spring of 2003, new hope for his release materialized through the efforts of Dan McTeague, MP for the riding of Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge, who travelled to Britain to obtain a letter of forgiveness from Justin Rodway, the victim’s son.  This letter made a clemency appeal possible.  (In Saudi law, a person may be forgiven if the persons harmed forgive the criminal.)  On August 8, 2003, Sampson was released, along with five Britons who were also being held, after being granted a royal pardon by Saudi King Fahd.  The focus of discussion then shifted to the extent of redress that Canada should pursue with respect to Sampson’s allegations of torture.

Before this development, the Canadian government had been widely criticized for its ineffectiveness.  The following editorial was written by a retired doctor, James Goodwin, who practised obstetrics in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, and Yemen.

“If an appeal court in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decides it, William Sampson, a Canadian citizen, will be beheaded in the capital city, Riyadh, at what a generation of expatriate Westerners indelicately called “Chop-Chop” Square. Let me tell you how they do this.

The religious police bring the unfortunate prisoner in a little van at 1 p.m. on Friday, the Islamic holy day...The prisoner is then forced to kneel.....The executioner stands at the ready with a very large sword.  A little man, crouching to one side, jabs the prisoner in the middle of his back with a sharp stick, which causes his bowed head to jerk up.  As soon as this happens, with one swift stroke, the head is off......

(While working in Saudi Arabia) I witnessed or had first hand knowledge of flagrant violations of human rights: harassment, intimidation, trumped-up criminal charges, summary incarceration, beatings, sexual assault and worse..... Most former expatriate (people who remove themselves from their native country) workers from the West can relate similar stories. It’s hardly a surprise that Canadians, visiting the kingdom on business, would see nothing of this.

During that time, regrettably, the diplomatic officials representing our Department of External Affairs (now Foreign Affairs) were hamstrung by operating policies (that) dictated caution to the point of impotence, in order to avoid ruffling Saudi feathers for fear of compromising Canadian business interests.  Today, it seems that nothing has changed.  When Crown Prince Abdullah cancelled his business trip to Canada in retaliation for our government’s faint-hearted protest about Mr. Sampson’s brutal treatment, the speed with which we retreated was shameful.

Why, in the name of humanity, can’t we stop playing games with these people and expose them for what they are?  If Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham can protest the arrest and deportation to Syria of a Canadian citizen by the US government (Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian on his way to Montreal from Tunisia via New York) with such passion and indignation, surely he and his officials can drum up enough outrage, energy, and backbone to demand that poor Mr. Sampson get a transparently fair trial, regardless of his guilt or innocence.  That’s the way we dispense justice in Canada and Mr. Graham must deliver this unequivocal message to the Saudi government without further delay.”

Source: James Goodwin, Saudi Justice and Canadian Timidity,” Halifax Herald, May 25, 2002.

Question 1

Goodwin suggests that William Sampson deserves a trial consistent with “the way we dispense justice in Canada,” even though his alleged crime took place in Saudi Arabia.  Do you agree?  Explain.  (In order to get full marks, you must say 5 intelligent things.  How can you do that—by  considering the answer from 5 different viewpoints.  You need to put yourself in others’ shoes and answer the question from their perspective.  State the viewpoint you are taking and then explain how you feel that person would respond)

Question 2

Why do you think people like Goodwin and a local MP felt the need to get involved with a diplomatic relations case?  Once again, you need to have 5 different reasons.  Number them when you type them out.  One of the viewpoints could be yours and why you would or would not get involved)

Question 3

Was the success of the clemency appeal a politically satisfactory resolution of this matter?  Once again, five viewpoints needed.  Give the viewpoint you are taking and then explain how you feel that person would respond.  Your viewpoint should be included.

Question 4

Research the Saudi Arabia justice system.  List what you discover that you can connect to this case and beside each point state if this element would be legal in Canada and when possible, explain why or why not

1 Answer | Add Yours

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farouk23 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM (Answer #1)

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There are many differences between the Saudi Arabian justice system and the Canadian one. In the context of this case the primary difference is the question of clemency for a conviction, in Canada this would never be possible. While you can get a pardon for a crime you have been convicted of or get clemency for health and other reasons, it is impossible for someone to be released from prison on the basis of forgiveness by the victims of the crime. This is a uniquely Islamic concept based on Sharia Law which Saudi Arabia uses as the basis of their legal system. 

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