Alberta politician says Canadians detained in Ethiopia released on bail

Alberta politician says Canadians detained in Ethiopia released on bail

EDMONTON — An Alberta MP says 13 Canadians who were detained in Ethiopia have received bail.

Heather McPherson, the NDP’s international development critic and a former executive director of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, says she’s keeping a close eye on the situation.

Canadian Humanitarian has said 10 Canadian volunteers, three Canadians on its staff and two Ethiopian staff members were in custody in the African country on allegations they were practising medicine without permission and had dispensed expired medication.

The Alberta-based charity has disputed the allegations.

McPherson says she has been receiving regular updates from Global Affairs Canada about the case in Gondar, a city in northern Ethiopia.

She says the Canadians should get out of prison after receiving bail, but they will probably have to stay in the country to deal with the allegations.

“I would suspect that … there will be some process to that. I suspect that would not be an immediate thing,” she said Tuesday.

Global Affairs Canada could not immediately be reached for comment.

McPherson, who travelled to Gondar with Canadian Humanitarian in 2012, said it’s an organization that works to provide health care to the most vulnerable populations.

“My experience is that they would understand the need of treating all people with the same level of health care. They are accustomed to working in Ethiopia and they are accustomed to following the letter of what’s required.”

McPherson said she’s worried about the Canadians, including  charity founders Dr. Richard Northcott and Deborah Northcott from Medicine Hat, Alta., and others from Alberta and British Columbia.

“This is a pretty trying thing,” said McPherson. “My first priority is making sure they are safe while they are in Ethiopia, making sure they are receiving as much support as we can give them through consular services and making sure the legal process … is done in a transparent way.

“For me, right now, the biggest concern is their welfare and their safety. I want to see these Canadians — all these Canadians —come home.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2020

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