Malevolent Co-National Neighbours
"Due to the shocking lack of an official and reliable translation, Mrs. Noorullah did not understand what was happening, or why. She was taken from her home, along with her young children. She was told her life was in danger."
"Mrs. Noorullah was told that this security was necessary to protect her from Mr. Wali who was deemed a threat to commit a crime of so-called 'honour' against his wife and children. There were also baseless rumours of terrorist connections."
"The actions of the defendants ... were malicious, callous, and highhanded [and] serve to undermine the public's confidence in police officers and the administration of justice."
"They had been in Canada less than a year when the arrest happened, and their lives were once again thrown into chaos."
Statement of claim
Ashley Fraser / Postmedia A file photo of an Ottawa police cruiser
Sometimes it's better not to live within a community, as an immigrant to another country, where other families from your native country live. Shared traditions, customs, language can give the comfort of familiarity but malicious resentment can also erupt. Most often people who emigrate from their country where life is anything but ideal, to one whose reputation is that of a beacon of hope and a haven of equality where refugees and immigrants can aspire toward a new way of life holding out huge promise for themselves and their children still need the comfort of familiarity.
Mahmood Wali Mahmad left Afghanistan in 2012. In Afghanistan where employment was scarce, he had worked for the Canadian Armed Forces as a translator, in Kabul. Many Afghans who found work alongside the NATO troops who were stationed in war-torn and Taliban-threatened Afghanistan, found themselves in need of an escape route once international troops left the country to fend for itself. Mr. Mahmad was one of them, uprooting his wife and two children to begin life anew in Canada's capital, Ottawa.
He moved into an neighbourhood where other Afghans also lived. And as matters transpired, it appeared that those Afghan expatriates resented Mr. Mahmad's work back in Afghanistan as a translator for the Canadian forces. One of his neighbours lodged a complaint at the local school that the Mahmad children attended alleging that the father beat his wife, that the family was one at risk of the kind of patriarchal cultural violence leading to the death of the mother, called an "honour killing".
That led to police involvement and a criminal investigation. His wife, Janatbibi Noorullah, who spoke only Pashto, and their two children, were moved to a shelter for abused women in Toronto, while her husband was arrested and jailed before being released on "very strict" house arrest. A family asunder, and a criminal investigation launched, but a trial never ensued. Instead, the man's wife learned enough English while living in Toronto to finally understand why she had been forcefully separated from her husband.
She forthwith denied all the allegations that she had been beaten and was at risk of spousal murder.
Since she and her two children were listed as the official complainants in the case against her husband, in the face of the fact she now put forward that there never had been and never existed evidence of criminal activity surrounding her family and her husband posed a threat to no one, and nor were rumours of terrorist activities ever validated, the case was dropped, the family was reunited.
The Crown was led to request that all charges against Mr. Mahmad be stayed and he no longer has a criminal record.
But he does have a law suit, naming Ottawa police officers, the Ottawa Police Services Board, and the Crown as defendants and suing them for $1.7-million. He is suing the source of his legal problems that interrupted his life so miserably. He had lived just under one year in Canada when he became involved in a horrible situation that devastated him at a time in his life when he thought he had escaped the nightmare that life in Afghanistan had become.
His lawsuit claims damages for negligent investigation, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution and breaches of his charter rights. As for the malicious rumours instigated by his former neighbours, fellow Afghans who had taken a rancid dislike to him, there will be no punishment because no real hard evidence exists to implicate them.
But Mr. Mahmad and his family now fully understand that there is little comfort to be had living amongst other Afghans, so he and his family have since moved to another neighbourhood.