IRFAN-Canada

What Happened

In April 2011, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) revoked the charitable registration of IRFAN-Canada. IRFAN-Canada challenged the revocation and its appeal was scheduled to be heard before the Federal Court of Appeal in May 2014. 

In April 2014, just days before IRFAN-Canada’s  scheduled appeal, the Minister of Public Safety listed it as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code for alleged links to Hamas. The fact of the listing and its timing, only days before IRFAN-Canada’s scheduled court hearing on the revocation of its charitable status, were severely criticized by the organization. IRFAN-Canada asked the Court to defer its appeal until it could seek to have its name removed from the terrorist list.  The Court granted this request.


The Department of Public Safety Canada claims that IRFAN-Canada delivered $14.6 million to Hamas or to organizations supporting Hamas. IRFAN-Canada argues that it did not provide funds to Hamas and that its partner agencies with alleged links to Hamas are reputable organizations that received predominantly medical equipment[1], and to which even the Canadian government has donated in the past. IRFAN-Canada believes that the allegations against it are unfair and have political overtones, in part because they reflect Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel stand.  The listing process of terrorist entities under the Criminal Code has not yet been challenged in Canadian courts. However, IRFAN-Canada and other civil society organizations have argued that its listing is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms due to a lack of fairness and due process.

BACKGROUND

Audits of Charitable Organizations by Canada Revenue Agency

CRA is authorized under the Income Tax Act to monitor whether registered charitable organizations are complying with the Act.  There are common non-compliance issues that occur in the vast majority of charities that are audited, but only a small percentage (e.g. 2.7% in fiscal 2013) of such charities have their status revoked as a result of compliance audits.  IRFAN-Canada believes that it was singled out by CRA based on its humanitarian work in the West Bank and Gaza and, as a result, subjected to two detailed and successive audits, the second audit revisiting and contradicting the findings of the first.  By removing charitable status from IRFAN-Canada and listing it as a terrorist organization, the government has made it impossible for IRFAN-Canada to continue its humanitarian work in Palestine. IRFAN-Canada maintains that there is no evidence that it has materially or financially supported terrorism.

IRFAN-Canada Subjected to Two Extensive Audits by CRA

Between 2002 and 2004, IRFAN-Canada was the subject of a two-year extensive audit by the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) [now known as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)]. In this context, CRA raised concerns that a separate organization, Povrel Jerusalem Fund for Human Services (PJFHS) which was registered with the government of Israel and which had transferred its assets to IRFAN-Canada in 2001, had ties to Hamas, a listed entity under the Anti-Terrorism Act. In December 2004, after reviewing thousands of pages of audit information collected over two years, CRA accepted IRFAN-Canada’s explanations that it never knowingly associated with entities operating in the Middle East, which were credibly alleged to be associated with terrorism.[3]

In November 2004, weeks before the 2004 CRA audit result, then opposition MP Stockwell Day and the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) held a press conference on Parliament Hill alleging that IRFAN-Canada is a front group for Hamas.  In 2005, IRFAN-Canada launched a defamation action to challenge these allegations.  This action was ultimately settled by a non-confidential settlement in 2010, whereby the CCD formally retracted its allegations.[4]  Stockwell Day was protected by Parliamentary Privilege and could not be compelled to provide evidence as he was then a sitting Member of Parliament.

In 2008, CRA launched a new audit against IRFAN-Canada, which revisited the conclusions of the 2002 audit and resuscitated the allegation that IRFAN-Canada has ties to Hamas.[5] For at least two years prior to this second audit, CRA actively surveilled IRFAN-Canada.  This audit focused on the fact that IRFAN-Canada was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator (“UCC”) in a US-based prosecution known as the Holy Land Foundation trial.[6] IRFAN-Canada argues that the US government held no legally recognized justification for publicly naming it as an UCC and that its name did not appear anywhere else in any pleading or in any testimony related to the trial.[7]

Following this second audit, CRA released a summary of findings in December 2010, known as an Administrative Fairness Letter. It found two main reasons to revoke IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status – irregularities in its books and records and the allegation that IRFAN-Canada had provided direct or indirect funding to Hamas.

On March 9, 2011, CRA issued a Notice of Intention to Revoke IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status in 30 days. The intended revocation would threaten the viability of IRFAN-Canada’s relationships with its international partners and other institutions and donors in Canada because it carries a negative stigma and prevents IRFAN-Canada from receiving charitable donations. 

After charitable status is revoked, an organization’s director is prohibited from working with other charities for five years. As well, other charitable organizations are unlikely to affiliate with the partners and organizations of the revoked charity. Because of the serious nature of these conseqences, before the notice of revocation, IRFAN-Canada had already agreed not to issue charitable receipts for donations and following the notice it further offered to close its doors and transfer its resources and projects to another charitable organization. In that way, the work of continuing to support widows, orphans and destitute children in the war torn areas of Gaza, the West Bank and in other parts of the world would continue.[8] CRA refused IRFAN-Canada’s offer and insisted on the importance of a public and formal revocation of its charitable status.[9]

CRA Revokes IRFAN-Canada’s Charitable Status

IRFAN-Canada asked the Federal Court of Appeal for an injunction[10] to prevent CRA from revoking its charitable status until IRFAN-Canada was able to appeal the revocation decision. The Court denied this request on the basis that the charity would not suffer irreparable harm by virtue of the publication of the revocation notice.[11]

IRFAN-Canada presented extensive and detailed information to the CRA Charities Directorate disputing the fairness of the CRA audit and reasonableness of its conclusion.[12] IRFAN-Canada argued that it did not provide funds to Hamas and that its partner agencies with supposed links to Hamas are reputable organizations that received predominantly medical equipment,[13] rather than money, and to which even the Canadian government has donated in the past.  It also presented detailed information alleging that CRA’s sources of information were biased and unfair.[14]

Despite these arguments, the Charities Directorate revoked IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status of on April 9, 2011

IRFAN-Canada appealed to the Appeals Branch of the CRA.  A delegate of the Minister of National Revenue heard the appeal and confirmed the revocation in December 2012.  In her reasons for this decision, the Minister’s delegate upheld the conclusion that the charity had not complied with certain record keeping rules.[15] Significantly, she did not address IRFAN-Canada’s extensive arguments that it does not have links with Hamas.

Appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal of Charitable Status Revocation

IRFAN-Canada appealed the decision of the CRA Appeals Branch to the Federal Court of Appeal and the hearing was set for May 6, 2014.  In its appeal, IRFAN-Canada argued that the decision to revoke its charitable status was: (a) unreasonable and based on an error of law, (b) made in an unfair process, (c) demonstrated a closed mind or reasonable apprehension of bias and (d) was made in bad faith and contrary to sections 15 and 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“the Charter”).

As part of its appeal, IRFAN-Canada attempted to file additional evidence from the public domain that alleged that Canada has maintained staunch and uncritical support for the state of Israel and that this has generated a reasonable belief that the decision to confirm the revocation of IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status was biased.  IRFAN-Canada argued that the Minister’s delegate had not given due regard to the sources and arguments that challenge the rigour, objectivity and legal admissibility of information from Israeli intelligence.  However, the Federal Court of Appeal refused to admit any additional information related to the political context of the Minister’s decision. 

IRFAN-Canada’s Argues Violation of Equal Treatment as a Canadian-Muslim Charitable Organization

In its case before the Federal Court of Appeal, IRFAN-Canada argues that CRA is not required to revoke an organization’s charitable status on the basis of non-compliance issues such as those attributed to IRFAN-Canada (such as record keeping etc).[16] It says that these are common errors historically found in 87% of all CRA audits and that approximately 94% of charities that exhibit these types of non-compliance problems do not have their charitable status revoked. On this basis, IRFAN-Canada argues that its revocation on the basis of these kinds of errors is a significant departure from CRA’s standard practice.

IRFAN-Canada also argues that it is being treated in a differential manner relative to other Canadian charities that are not tied to foreign banking institutions that use financial record keeping procedures that differ from those found in Canada or similar systems. IRFAN-Canada believes that the revocation of its status is discriminatory because it was intimately tied to its religious (Muslim) support base and project work in Gaza, a geographic region administered by Hamas.

IRFAN-Canada also states that CRA’s vague criterion of “association”, presumes a connection with Hamas that does not exist. IRFAN-Canada argues that because of its support base within Muslim communities in Canada and Muslim beneficiaries in The West Bank and Gaza, it has become unfairly depicted as an organization linked to the extremism of Hamas. It argues that CRA has fundamentally misapprehended the nature of its work with local religious communities in this region and that this is an endemic problem for Muslim funded charities operating in the Middle East in an era of increased vigilance against Islamic terrorism since 9/11.[17]  One problem that IRFAN-Canada points to is that CRA identifies possible associations with terrorist organizations by relying on “open-source” reports that make false and speculative allegations against organizations relating to their affiliation with Hamas.

IRFAN-Canada also argues that CRA records requirements exponentially complicate the ability of humanitarian organizations such as itself to do charitable work in the region.[18] In this regard, the Canadian Bar Association has observed that “…ethnically identified charities carrying out programs in conflict zones fac[e] deregistration on the basis of questionable allegations of terrorist financing at a far greater rate than the larger established charities carrying out the same or similar programs in the same conflict zones.”[19]

IRFAN-Canada Argues Violation of Freedom of Association

Beyond simply removing its charitable status, IRFAN-Canada argues that because the revocation is founded upon the allegation that the organization has supported terrorist organizations, it has the effect of limiting and stigmatizing IRFAN-Canada’s association with lawful organizations, including its partners and agents in the depressed and strife torn areas of The West Bank and Gaza. As such, the revocation has eliminated IRFAN-Canada’s capacity to deliver humanitarian relief to the destitute in some of the most dire conflict zones of the world. On this basis, IRFAN-Canada argues that the revocation violates its freedom of association. 

Position of the Minister

The Minister of National Revenue takes the position that CRA is not required to consider equality and freedom association rights in rendering a decision to revoke charitable status.  The Minister states that these Charter rights are not engaged in the case of IRFAN-Canada and that in any event, even if they were engaged, there has been no chilling effect on IRFAN-Canada’s capacity to associate with any person or organization.  It submits that the revocation was not based upon any personal characteristic of the organization or its constituents, but rather, it was based upon uniform criteria that govern all charitable activity in Canada.

IRFAN-Canada is Listed as Terrorist Entity under Criminal Code

Just two weeks before the Federal Court of Appeal was to hear IRFAN-Canada argue its appeal of the revocation, on April 24, 2014, the Minister of Public Safety listed it as a terrorist entity pursuant to section 83.05 of the Criminal Code.  By virtue of the listing, it is now an offense to provide material assistance or to finance IRFAN-Canada.  The Minister of Public Safety published a press release claiming that between 2005 and 2009 IRFAN-Canada delivered $14.6 million to Hamas or organizations supporting Hamas. Public Safety Canada also makes reference to the findings of the CRA audit that led to the revocation of the organization’s charitable status.  IRFAN-Canada denied these allegations and severely criticized the fact of the listing and its timing only days before by the organization’s appeal. It also pointed out that Public Safety is relying on the same audit that IRFAN-Canada was attempting to dispute in its appeal[20] to the Federal Court of Appeal. 

IRFAN-Canada challenges the allegations that it has links to Hamas as being unfair and having political overtones.  It argues that such allegations are a reflection of Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel stand. 

To date, the process for listing terrorist entities under the Canadian Criminal Code, has not been challenged in Canadian courts. However, some civil society organizations have criticized the lack of fairness and due process in listing process.  On the other hand, the Centre for International and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) commended the government’s move to list IRFAN-Canada as a terrorist entity.  The CIJA noted the “tireless efforts” of its Board member, Stockwell Day, who was also previously Public Safety Minister, in pursuing this listing process.

Current Status of Appeal of Revocation of Charitable Status

On May 6, 2014, IRFAN-Canada asked the Federal Court of Appeal to defer the appeal of its charitable status revocation so that it could seek to have its name removed from the terrorist list. The Court granted IRFAN-Canada’s request.  Currently IRFAN-Canada is seeking to be delisted as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada.

 


[1] Letter from Carters to CRA (Notice of Objection to Revocation) dated March 16, 2011, page 55.

[2] Memorandum of Fact and Law of the Appellant (December 16, 2013) Court File No. A-20-13.

[3] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13 Letter from CRA Auditor to IRFAN-Canada dated December 21, 2004, [2002 Audit Correspondence PDF, p. 397], AC, Vol. 4, TAB H-10, pp. 971-74.

[4] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13 [see: Minutes of Settlement signed April 8, 2010 in the matter of IRFAN-Canada v. Stockwell Day et al., [Appendix to October 1, 2012 Appeal Submissions], AC, Vol. 8, Tab J-47, pp. 2132-37.]

[5] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13 at para. 74.

[6] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13 at para 15 [ See: Access to Information Act (ATIA) Record pp. 2074 and 2078, Appendix to October 1, 2012 Appeal Submissions, AC, Vol. 8, Tab J-28, J-29, pp. 1951-52.]

[7] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13

[8] Correspondence from Carters to CRA dated December 17, 2010 [Appellant’s Book of Documents re: Motion for Stay, May 6, 2014, Tab 16].

[9] Correspondence from CRA to Carters dated December 24, 2010 [Appellant’s Book of Documents re: Motion for Stay, May 6, 2014, Tab 17].

[10] Notice of Motion for Injunction IRFAN-Canada v. MNR; Court File No. A-130-11.

[11] Decision of Federal Court of Appeal – April 5, 2011 [Court File No. A-130-11].

[12] Memorandum of Fact and Law of the Appellant (December 16, 2013) Court File No. A-20-13.

[13] Letter from Carters to CRA (Notice of Objection to Revocation) dated March 16, 2011, page 55.

[14] Letter from Carters to CRA (Notice of Objection to Revocation) dated March 16, 2011, pages 10-13.

[15] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13 at para. 84; see: CRA Report on Objection dated November 30, 2012, AC, Vol. 10 TAB N, page 2653.]

[16] Memorandum of Fact and Law of IRFAN-Canada in Court File No. A-20-13

[17] Affidavit of Loren Lybarger, [Tab 4 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions], AC Vol.  5, TAB 4, pp. 1540-49; Affidavit of Reem Attieh, [Tab 5 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions, paras. 19-26], AC, Vol.  5, TAB 5, pp.  1583-86; Affidavit of Jonathan Bentall, [Tab 4 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions], AC Vol.  5, TAB 1, pp. 1503-24; Affidavit of Nathan Brown, [Tab 2 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions], AC Vol.  5, TAB 2, pp. 1525-32.

[18] Affidavit of Loren Lybarger, [Tab 4 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions], AC Vol.  5, TAB 4, pp. 1540-49; Affidavit of Reem Attieh, [Tab 5 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions, paras. 19-26], AC, Vol.  5, TAB 5, pp.  1583-86; Memo to IRFAN-Canada by K. Mann dated March 15, 2011, [Tab 9 to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions], AC Vol.  5, TAB I-9, pp. 1598-1603; Letter from Palestinian National Authority re: Good Conduct, [Appendix to April 6, 2011 Appeal Submissions] AC, Vol. 6, TAB I-7, page 1594.

[19] CBA Report on PCMLTFA dated March 8, 2012,  Appendix to Oct. 1, 2012 Appeal Submissions, AC Vol. 7, TAB J-3, page 1768.

[20] Memorandum of Fact and Law of the Appellant (December 16, 2013) Court File No. A-20-13.

 

Relevant Dates:

  • October 1, 2003: Stockwell Day alleges that IRFAN-Canada is associated with Hamas.
  • October 6, 2003: CCRA [previous name of CRA] contacts IRFAN-Canada to advise that it will be the subject of an audit of its charitable status for the 2001 and 2002 fiscal years.
  • October 2003 – July 2004: CRA conducts a detailed on-site audit of IRFAN-Canada followed by additional requests for information.
  • November 22, 2004: Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) and Stockwell Day hold a press conference on Parliament Hill involving allegations that IRFAN-Canada is associated with Hamas.
  • December 21, 2004: CRA states in written correspondence that it accepts  IRFAN-Canada’s explanation that it never knowingly associated with terrorist entities.
  • September 2005: IRFAN-Canada issues a defamation law suit  against Stockwell Day and CCD.
  • February 6, 2006: Stockwell Day is appointed Minister of Public Safety.
  • July-August 2007: IRFAN-Canada becomes aware that it has been listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial terrorism trial in the United States, together with approximately 250 other individuals and organizations. 
  • October 2007: A mistrial is declared in the U.S. Holy Land Foundation trial.
  • February 29, 2008: CRA contacts IRFAN-Canada providing notice of a new audit of its charitable status.  An extensive audit ensues for the next two years.
  • April 6, 2010: CRA notifies IRFAN-Canada of its intention to suspend receipting privileges of IRFAN-Canada effective April 13, 2010.
  • April 8, 2010: IRFAN-Canada accepts public minutes of settlement with CCD in defamation law suit.  CCD withdraws allegations of IRFAN-Canada’s association with terrorist organizations.  Stockwell Day is immune by virtue of parliamentary privilege.
  • April 13, 2010: CRA releases a press statement regarding suspension of IRFAN-Canada’s tax receipting privileges.
  • December 14, 2010: CRA Charities Directorate issues an Administrative Fairness Letter (27 pages) with hundreds of pages of appendices setting out the basis for the revocation of IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status.
  • December 17, 2010:  IRFAN-Canada offers to voluntarily wind up its charitable activities.
  • December 24, 2010: CRA refuses IRFAN-Canada’s offer to wind up, indicating that CRA must proceed with a public revocation of status.
  • February 22, 2011: IRFAN-Canada replies to CRA’s Administrative Fairness Letter (AFL).
  • March 9, 2011: CRA Charities Directorate provides letter of Intention to Revoke Charitable Status.
  • March 16, 2011: IRFAN-Canada files an appeal of Charities Directorate, (i.e. Notice of Objection) to Appeals Branch of CRA.
  • March 18, 2011: IRFAN-Canada files a motion to the Federal Court of Appeal for an injunction to stay the revocation of its charitable status.
  • April 5, 2011: Federal Court of Appeal denies IRFAN-Canada’s injunction motion.
  • April 8, 2011:  The Revocation Notice of IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status is published online in the official public archive of federal regulations known as the Canada Gazette.
  • August 28, 2012:  After almost 18 months following the objection filed by IRFAN-Canada, Appeals Branch of CRA indicates its intention to confirm the revocation of IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status in a brief letter.
  • October 1, 2012:  IRFAN-Canada files detailed final submissions to Appeals Branch of CRA responding to the allegations set out in CRA’s August  2012 correspondence.
  • December 11, 2012:  The CRA Appeals Branch (Minister’s delegate) confirms revocation of IRFAN-Canada’s charitable status.
  • January 9, 2013:  IRFAN-Canada files an appeal of the Minister’s decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. 
  • May 2013:  Federal Court of Appeal refuses motion by IRFAN-Canada to file additional evidence in support of the argument that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias in the Minister’s treatment of information from Israel because of Canada’s imbalanced and uncritical support for Israel.
  • March 25, 2014:  Hearing date for the appeal of the revocation of charitable status of IRFAN-Canada is set  for May 6, 2014.
  • April 24, 2014:  Without prior notice, IRFAN-Canada is listed as terrorist entity pursuant to section 83.05 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • May 6, 2014:  IRFAN-Canada and Minister of National Revenue appear in Federal Court of Appeal.  IRFAN-Canada argues motion to stay appeal of revocation of its charitable status until it has had an opportunity to be delisted.  Minister of National Revenue opposes the motion stating that the matter of whether IRFAN-Canada is listed as a terrorist entity is irrelevant to its charitable status.  Court grants IRFAN-Canada’s motion allowing it to seek delisting before its appeal is heard regarding its charitable status.

Role or Position

International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (Canada) (IRFAN-Canada) is a not-for-profit Canadian organization that claims to have for more than a decade served the needs of orphans and other persons living in extreme poverty throughout the world by providing funding and goods to individuals and organizations in order to foster nutritional, health care, psychological and other basic human needs support.[2]  A large component of IRFAN-Canada’s work focused on humanitarian relief in the conflict-ridden areas of the West Bank and Gaza in Palestine.  IRFAN-Canada historically derived the vast majority of its support from the charitable donations of individual Muslims and Muslim organizations in Canada.

Implications and Consequences

Abuse of Authority & Rule of Law: The listing of IRFAN-Canada as a terrorist entity occurred only days before the organization was to argue before the Federal Court of Appeal that its charitable status should be reinstated.  The timing of the listing raises the concern that the Government used the listing to completely undermine IRFAN-Canada’s capacity to exhaust its appeal rights as set out by law. The Court recognized it would be inherently unfair to force IRFAN-Canada to proceed with the appeal under the shadow of the terrorist listing.  As a result, the Court allowed the organization an opportunity to attempt to seek delisting before dealing with its charitable status appeal.

Due Process: IRFAN-Canada was listed as a terrorist entity under section 83.05 of the Criminal Code that has only been used once before in Canadian history against a domestic Canadian organization.  The listing procedure does not require due process or notice to the named organization, nor does it necessarily allow an organization to see the evidence against it. This raises systemic concerns about the fairness and Constitutionality of the listing process.  The fact that the designation of an organization as a terrorist entity is made by  Order-in-Council based on the recommendation of the Public Safety Minister, without notice to the organization, raises concerns about inappropriate safeguards for fairness.

Due Process: The listing of an organization under section 83.05 of the Criminal Code effectively criminalizes any financial transaction relating to the organization and opens the organization up to invasive police scrutiny.  Police may investigate and subsequently charge individuals for terrorist financing under the Criminal Code without ever having to prove the “terrorist activity” to a court of law.  This is contrary to basic due process requirements in criminal law. Given that a listed organization is not legally permitted to solicit or receive funds, it faces serious practical impediments to pursuing the legal avenues for delisting.    

Procedural Fairness: IRFAN-Canada argues that although it was closely monitored and subjected to extensive audits over several years, CRA’s allegations that it has links with terrorist associations remain vague, far reaching and impossible to defend given that many of CRA’s sources of information are not publicly accessible and have not been provided to the organization. CRA appears to have minutely scrutinized IRFAN-Canada because of allegations of direct and/or indirect association with terrorist entities.  However, IRFAN-Canada alleges that CRA has failed to fully consider its evidence and specific responses to the terrorism allegations.  Democracy requires that the evidentiary basis of controversial administrative decisions be transparent. Otherwise, there is no way to determine if  political bias is compromising administrative fairness.

Equality Rights:  As a Canadian organization focused primarily on delivering humanitarian assistance to destitute children in the West Bank and Gaza, IRFAN-Canada has had to deal with the banking practices and norms of the financial institutions in these regions.  CRA’s standards  of strict conformity to Canadian banking practices represents a serious problem for an organization operating in war-torn areas of the Middle East. CRA’s standards prevent  organizations such as IRFAN-Canada from doing work that serves Muslims and Palestinians in the Middle East, which is at the core of its humanitarian work and reflects the priority of an important donor base among Canadian Muslims and Palestinian-Canadians.

Freedom of Association: The allegation that IRFAN-Canada has links with terrorist organizations and the revocation of its charitable status on this basis chilled the organization from association with lawful entities. The terrorist listing of IRFAN-Canada under the Criminal Code now criminalizes active support of the organization itself. Yet IRFAN-Canada’s contends that it does not support terrorist organizations.  If this is true, the Government’s treatment of IRFAN-Canada has unduly limited its freedom of association and risks stigmatizing organizations attempting to do humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank. It also sends a strong message that Canadian NGOs doing humanitarian work in the Middle East or other conflict zones may be vulnerable to the politicized revocation of their charitable status, or worse, to being listed as a terrorist organization.  The designation of IRFAN-Canada as a terrorist entity should be considered in the context of other federal government actions that have had the effect of eliminating or reducing development assistance to Palestine.  Two examples are the defunding of KAIROS and the termination of the Canadian Arab Federation’s federal funding agreement.

 

Logo of IRFAN-Canada.

Date published: 26 July 2014

Sources