Mar 142010
 March 14, 2010  Posted by  Non-U.S.

Linda Diebel reports on a case where privacy laws have frustrated parents desperately trying to find their daughter, who disappeared while in Syria:

A federal official was on the phone last October, telling Kathryn Murray something so utterly outrageous regarding her missing daughter, the distraught Toronto mother almost lost it right there.

It’s the kind of logic that makes a heartbroken parent want to tear out her hair.

Murray was nearing the 1,000-day mark in the disappearance of her daughter, Nicole Vienneau, 32, who vanished in Syria. She was last seen at her hotel the morning of March 31, 2007, and then – nothing.

Murray was talking to the privacy official because a few months earlier, in May 2009, someone in foreign affairs told the family they’d have to file an access-to-information request if they wanted to see reports given to the Canadian embassy in Damascus by their own Syrian lawyer, and intended for them.

(Each federal government department has its own information and privacy protection section.)

“Well, we can’t give you anything about Nicole,” Murray says the privacy official informed her in October, five months after they’d filed their requests and jumped through required hoops.

“We’d need to get Nicole’s permission and I can’t give it to you without her consent.”

Read more in the Toronto Star.

This type of situation highlights the problem families may experience when a family member goes missing or is in the hospital. They can’t get information and the person is in no position to give consent to allow the government agencies or hospitals to give them information. Of course, in some cases, it may be that people have disappeared intentionally and do not want to be found by their families, but in protecting those individuals’ privacy, others have been left struggling to find people who may have been abducted or murdered.

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