Algeria: Absurd conviction of journalist Adlène Mellah must be overturned

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Press Release
Source: Amnesty International
URL: [link]
Date: January 22, 2019


Algeria’s Court of Appeal must end the ordeal of the journalist, Adlène Mellah, who was jailed simply for covering a peaceful public gathering last month, said Amnesty International today ahead of his appeal hearing on 23 January.

Adlène Mellah, director of news websites Algerie direct and Dzair Press has been held in solitary confinement since he was jailed in El Harrach prison on 11 December 2018.

"It is outrageous that a journalist has been imprisoned simply for carrying out his work and exercising his rights to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn Adlène Mellah’s conviction and drop all the charges against him in this case immediately," said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“Adlène Mellah’s case sends an alarming message about the state of media freedom in Algeria today. Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work free from harassment or intimidation, without fear of being arrested by the authorities.”

Adlène was arrested while covering a protest of 200 people in Algiers on 9 December. The demonstration was held in solidarity with the imprisoned singer, Rada Hmimid, known by the stage name Reda City 16. On 25 December, the court of Bab El Oued sentenced Adlène to a year in jail and a 100,000 dinar (around US$843) fine on charges of "rebellion" and "non-armed gathering".

A lawyer present at the trial told Amnesty International that the prosecution’s only evidence against Adlène was his presence at the protest.

In a video of the protest, a police officer is seen telling Adlène to leave the protest. Shortly afterwards, he grabs Adlène by his arm, pushes him and says that public gatherings are illegal. Algerian authorities maintain a de facto ban on protests in Algiers under an unpublished decree from 2001.

Adlène was arrested along with two protesters, Abdelaziz Laadjal and Abdelhafid Benekrouche, who were released later that day. Adlène has been detained since.

In a court session on 18 December, the group of more than 20 lawyers who represent Adlène decided to withdraw and leave the courtroom as a sign of protest against what they said was the "deliberate intention" of the judge to hold an unfair trial.

Prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture

Since his arrest, Adlène has been detained in solitary confinement, according to two of his lawyers. He is currently held alone in his cell and even during his courtyard breaks, he is alone apart from prison staff. Lack of meaningful contact with other detainees for at least 22 hours a day for more than 15 days constitutes prolonged solitary confinement, which amounts to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, under the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules).

To protest the verdict, Mellah began a hunger strike on 26 December, the day after he was convicted. According to his lawyer Zoubida Assoul, Adlène had lost at least 14 kilograms as of 15 January. Another lawyer who visited him on 20 January told Amnesty International that after a visit from his family, Adlène had agreed to take serums containing salt and glucoses as well as vitamins.

One of his lawyers also told Amnesty International that Adlène was already very weak after reporting torture during his previous imprisonment. The Gendarmerie brigade of Bab Jdid in Algiers arrested him on 22 October 2018 on charges of "blackmail" and "harm to privacy".

Adlène told Amnesty International that he was beaten and waterboarded by gendarmerie officers who also placed a cloth doused in bleach into his mouth three times. A Court provisionally released him on 22 November 2018 but the authorities failed to order an investigation into his torture claims.

“The Algerian authorities must immediately quash the conviction against Adlène Mellah and free him and all other peaceful protesters, human rights activists and journalists prosecuted or detained simply for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Heba Morayef.

Adlène’s arrest and conviction comes as part of a broader crackdown against freedom of expression in Algeria that intensified in October 2018, when at least seven journalists and six activists were arrested and detained in connection with their journalism under penal code provisions.

© 2019 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


Pro-Military Media Accuses US Ambassador of Wanting to ‘Turn Algeria into Syria’

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Hassan Masiky
Source: Morocco World News
URL: [link]
Date: January 16, 2019

Algeria’s intelligence agencies are unhappy with the activities of the US ambassador in Algiers, and they used a pro-military website to convey that displeasure.

Washington D.C. – In an article published on January 15, the Francophone website Algerie Patriotique accused American Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher of “plotting” with opposition parties to destabilize the current regime and “turn Algeria into a new Syria.”

The article went on to question the real motives behind the American diplomat’s extensive travels around the country and the purpose of his invitations for young Algerians to “undergo” American NGO training on democracy.

The pro-establishment website indicated that the ambassador held secret meetings with opposition groups to encourage them “to carry out actions of subversion.” It suggests that Washington’s top diplomat’s actions and activities are suspect and amount to “political activism” against the Algerian state.

Furthermore, Algerie Patriotique accused, in the same article, Ambassador William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former US deputy secretary of state under President Obama, of conspiring with the Moroccan monarchy to subvert Algeria.

However, the more troubling element in this hard-to-fact-check article is Algerie Patriotique’s comparison of Ambassador Desrocher to his predecessor, “the unmistakable Robert Ford who, in the 1990s, had turned his office of adviser to the US embassy in El-Biar into a headquarters for extremists of the FIS and the armed arm, the GIA,” according to the website.

It is startling to see a pro-government media site accuse past and current American diplomats stationed in Algeria of associating with terrorist groups and plotting to change the government by force. Algerie Patriotique would never have published such an account without the direction and approval of top intelligence officers.

In fact, Algeria’s notorious Military Intelligence manufactures these “type” of stories and feeds them to their social media mouthpieces. The hope is to cast doubt about the allegiance and patriotism of opposition groups fighting for democracy and human rights.

In provoking Ambassador Desrocher, the Algerian government tries to portray the opposition as agents of the American government leading some activists to distance themselves from the work of Western NGOs.

While Algeria is not innately anti-American, it is suspicious of the work of US pro-democracy organizations. The government fears that democracy-building activities are a threat to its rule.

For some independent political observers, Ambassador Desrocher is collateral damage in the larger smear campaign directed by the military to de-legitimize members of a coalition of independent organizations fighting to stop a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Nevertheless, accusations of “acts of subversion” against US diplomats are serious and a breach in protocol. Since Algerie Patriotique conveys the position of the powerful military establishment that controls the country, the Algerian government must give some clarifications regarding the publication of such false allegations.


Algerian Politician Warns of Unprecedented Crisis in Algeria

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Tarek Bassa
Source: Morocco World News
URL: [link]
Date: January 13, 2019


Rabat – Abderrazak Makri, the leader of Algeria’s Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) political party, warned of an unprecedented crisis that Algeria may experience beginning in late 2019.

Starting from late 2019 until 2022, “we will experience unprecedented lean years. They will be difficult for Algeria and the ordinary citizen will feel the burden more than others,” Makri wrote on his Facebook page on January 11.

The politician, who is pleading for the postponement of the Algerian presidential election of April 2019, lamented that “the struggle for power and money dominates the political scene” in Algeria.

Few Algerians, according to Makri, “are worried about the economic and social risks that will make Algeria very vulnerable to regional and international threats in the short term.”

Makri warned at the end of his post, “I fear that when all Algerians recognize those who warn and advise from those who deceit and betray, it will be too late.”

A few days before Makri’s warning, a former Algerian prime minister, Ahmed Benbitour, said that Algeria is going through a deep political crisis due to the “autocratic and paternalistic” regime.

Benbitour, who is also an economist, stressed that there should be mobilization to make the current regime relinquish its hold on power and the country’s resources, to help save from political failure and economic crisis.

For Benbitour, Algeria’s “responsible elites” have to assess the situation, inform the population of the dire state of the country, and force a “peaceful” regime change.

“Our country is governed by an authoritarian, paternalistic, and patrimonialist regime that thrives on rent-seeking and economic predation,” Benbitour said Monday in Algiers at a conference on “the Mission of Elites in Saving the Country.”

“A regime change is the key to solving all of our other governance-linked issues,” he added.

Will We Allow Canada To Deport Mohamed Harkat To Torture?

posted on December 10, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Tim Mcsorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, writer and activist in Ottawa
Source: Huffington Post
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2018

The refugee faces national security allegations despite never having been charged or convicted of a crime.

Co-authored with my colleague, Anne Dagenais Guertin

This is a story about a man who came to Canada as a refugee out of fear of persecution in his home country. Shortly after arriving, though, he was jailed without charge based on accusations from a secret informant who failed a lie-detector test and whom the judge refused to make available for cross-examination.

After his arrest, the government proceeded to destroy the original "evidence" against him. Only a summary was given to a special, security-cleared lawyer, who wasn't allowed to discuss the evidence with the person in question. The process that followed was so skewed that the courts were allowed to make their decisions based on information not normally admissible in a court of law.

It doesn't end there. Over the next 16 years, this person faced constant monitoring and harassment by government officials, three-and-a-half years of detention, including one in solitary confinement, and years of house arrest but has never event been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

On top of all this, he is now facing deportation to torture because he is not a Canadian citizen.

After hearing this story, would you think it unfair? That it is shocking that this could happen in Canada? Would you believe this needs to stop — and should never have happened in the first place?

What if we told you the person we are talking about is a Muslim man named Mohamed Harkat, who Canada is attempting to deport based on secret, unproven national security allegations? Would that change your answers to the questions above?

Who Is Mohamed Harkat?

Unfounded fear and hatred of Muslims, migrants and refugees, already long-standing, became worse after Sept. 11, 2001, and are now acceptable public discourse. The examples are many: Politicians winning elections on hatred of Muslims and foreigners; fear-mongering over the refugee caravan; asylum seekers forced to cross the U.S.-Canada border because of the Safe Third Country Agreement; and the stunning increase of reported hate crimes in Canada in 2017, up 151 per cent for Muslims alone.

The fear of Muslims is now so pervasive that, in 2017, a young man was convinced that committing a terrorist attack and killing six worshipers at a Quebec City Mosque would protect people... from a terrorist attack. Fear leads us to do illogical things. And it leads us to renounce long-held principles that we otherwise say define us as Canadians, including freedom of thought and religion, the prohibition of torture, the fundamental right to due process and a fair trial, and the principle of innocence until proven guilty before a court of law.

Our point is that we are being duped: duped into giving up our rights and our ideals — including a more just and equal society for all, legally, economically and socially — through fear-mongering. We are being distracted by people who want to hoard more money and power for themselves by pointing the finger at people simply in search of a better life. People who come here in fear of persecution in their home country. People like Mohamed Harkat.

Moe, as he is affectionately known to his family, friends and supporters (including the ICLMG, fighting alongside him for the past decade), arrived in Canada in 1995 and obtained refugee status in 1997. On Dec. 10, 2002, he was arrested outside his home in Ottawa, alleged to be a threat to national security and subjected to a security certificate. He spent years in jail despite never having been accused let alone convicted of a crime, and was released on bail in 2006 with the strictest conditions in Canadian history. He has been happily married to a French-Canadian woman for 19 years, he is a hard worker and is loved by his family, community and colleagues.

Now he faces deportation to Algeria where he will be tortured.

It's not a fear, it's a fact. Canada gave him refugee status in 1997 because his fear of persecution was deemed founded. Now that his name is tainted by unproven, secret national security allegations, he will be detained and tortured if he is sent back to Algeria. And we are not the only ones to acknowledge this: Germany, France, the U.K. and the Supreme Court of Ireland consider it unsafe to deport refugees to Algeria.

At Moe's last bail hearing, CSIS did not file a threat assessment, and his bail conditions have been significantly lowered, including the removal of his ankle monitor, demonstrating he is no longer considered a threat.

However, Moe and his wife Sophie continue to be harassed by government agents and live in fear that Moe could be deported any day. Their health and quality of life have been greatly impacted for too long. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has the power to stop Moe's deportation to torture and allow him to stay in Canada with his family and friends. He can prevent Canada from once again being complicit in torture, and he can rectify the great injustice that has been done to Moe in violation of what Canada claims to be: a country respectful of human rights and civil liberties.

You can change that. Take action by sending a letter to your MP and signing the petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Goodale to stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat. It's the right thing to do.

Copyright © 2018 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.


Liberté, Egalité, Absurdity: French anti-terror laws are robbing people of their freedom

posted on December 05, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Eda Seyhan
Source: Euronews
URL: [link]
Date: November 22, 2018


“We are only an hour from the sea, but I can’t take my children to the beach,” Kamel Daoudi tells me. It is the school holidays and Kamel’s wife and three young children have made the long journey across the country to visit him in an isolated town in western France, a town he cannot leave without facing arrest.

A decade ago, Kamel – a 44-year-old man originally from Algeria - was subjected to an assigned residence order, which effectively put him under indefinite house arrest. Under the measure, he is confined to a town chosen for him by the government. After being moved six times, he is now in Saint-Jean-d'Angély, separated from his family by more than 400km. He lives in a non-descript highway motel approved by the local authority, and must report to the local police station three times a day. At night, he is not allowed to leave his motel due to a curfew.

Kamel’s days are rigidly organised around his journeys to the police station and his curfew – he risks prison if he slips up. “I feel like the main character in the film Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over again,” he tells me. “Even prison is less severe than this.” And he should know.

In 2005, Kamel was convicted for a terrorism offence and sentenced to imprisonment. During his prosecution, he was stripped of his French nationality. He spent six years in prison but, despite having served his sentence, he was not allowed to walk free upon release. Instead, the French authorities ordered him to leave the country. However, due to the fact that he would face torture and ill-treatment in Algeria, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France could not send him there.

French law allows the government to impose assigned residence orders on foreign nationals who, like Kamel, cannot return to their country of nationality. And so began an ordeal that has left him languishing in a legal limbo that has rendered a normal life impossible.

Kamel is not alone in this injustice. While administrative control measures have long been used in cases of foreign nationals like Kamel, such measures have only recently become a key tool in France’s counter-terrorism arsenal. At first only available as an exceptional measure under the state of emergency, counter-terrorism control orders were brought into the ordinary legal system in October 2017.

The Minister of Interior may impose such orders: “for the sole purpose of preventing the commission of terrorist acts.” Individuals are targeted on the basis of broad and vague criteria. The person subject to the order typically does not know the evidence against them unless they appeal the order. Even if they do appeal, they do not get access to the full case against them and face further obstacles to justice.

The measures themselves confine a person to a specific town, require them to report daily to the police and, in some cases, prevent them from contacting certain individuals or visiting certain locations. Should they violate any of these conditions, they risk prison.

These measures are inherently unjust. Pre-emptive justice – penalising someone for what they might do, and not what they have done – is not justice at all.

If the authorities suspect someone of wrongdoing, they should investigate and, if there is enough evidence, prosecute them.

By concentrating power in the hands of the government - completely outside of the normal criminal justice system - administrative control measures are open to abuse and discriminatory application, including toward Muslims. By bypassing the courts, administrative measures deny people the chance to prove their innocence and permit the government to penalise individuals without having to prove their guilt.

The increased use of administrative measures in the counter-terrorism context goes beyond France and has seen an alarming increase in recent years.

Last year, the Dutch parliament passed a law allowing the government to impose control orders for national security reasons on any person they claim “can be associated with terrorist activities” or the support thereof. A bill currently going through the Swiss parliament empowers police to impose restrictions, like bans on contact with certain individuals, on “potentially dangerous persons” without having to charge them with any crime.

This law mirrors a similar expansion of powers of the German federal criminal police in May 2017. The vague nature of these preventative measures, which rely on presumptions of “dangerousness” and potential threats rather than hard evidence, coupled with persistent stereotyping of Muslims across Europe, opens the door to discrimination and abuse.

Disturbingly, these administrative orders are just part of a wider raft of anti-terror laws introduced across Europe in recent years that have had a corrosive effect on the rule of law and have undermined freedoms that we have long taken for granted.

Back in Saint-Jean-d'Angély, crammed into his motel room with his wife and children, I ask Kamel what he would do if the administrative order on him was lifted. “I’d live a normal life,” he tells me. “We made a promise with my wife that we’d go travelling, as a family. I’d arrange my days around the desires and education of my children. I’d try and make up for all the years that I’ve lost.”

Eda Seyhan is a counter-terrorism campaigner in Europe for Amnesty International

Copyright © euronews 2018


Mohamed Harkat should never be deported to torture

posted on November 12, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Monia Mazigh
Source: Rabble.ca
URL: [link]
Date: November 9, 2018


I first heard about the case of Mohamed Harkat in December 2002. It was a dark time for me and my family. My husband, Maher Arar, was detained in Syria; I had become a single mother with two young children, living on social assistance. The whole world was swept with anti-terrorism policies: if you were an Arab Muslim man, you would be at high risk of racial profiling, interrogation and eventually deportation to torture.

I learned about the case of Mohamed Harkat when I saw his wife, Sophie Harkat, on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, making an emotional plea for the release of her husband. I immediately felt a sense of sympathy for her. I felt we were fighting a similar battle. We were two women caught in the legal aftermath of 9/11, trying to bring justice to their loved ones, but surrounded by a wave of suspicion and a climate of fear.

Mohamed Harkat was arrested in front of his home in Ottawa under a security certificate. At the time, very few Canadians would have known about the controversial procedure that allows two cabinet ministers to sign a certificate ordering the deportation of a refugee or permanent resident out of Canada. This measure existed before the events of 9/11 and before the new national security legislation that followed. Nevertheless after 9/11, it became the tool par excellence to order the deportation of those deemed "dangerous" terrorists or sleeper agents. The security certificate is supposed to offer ministers a speedy way to order the deportation of an alleged terrorist. However, since 2002, these measures have been proven -- through several court decisions and long public campaigns -- problematic at many levels.

Mohamed Harkat's case proved that as well. After his arrest, he was detained for a year in solitary confinement, then transferred to "Guantanamo North," the Millhaven prison built at the exorbitant cost of $3.2 million specifically to house Arab Muslim men detained under security certificates. When Harkat was released from prison, he was put under house arrest with conditions considered to be the strictest in Canadian history. As Sophie Harkat mentioned in public speaking appearances, during this time she became her own husband's de facto jailer, responsible for making sure he didn't use the internet or drive outside the designated perimeter without the knowledge of Canada Border Services agents.

After 16 long years fighting his security certificate, today Mohamed Harkat is still threatened with deportation to his native Algeria. The secret evidence that led to his arrest has been destroyed by Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the informants used in this case were never cross-examined, and we learned through court proceedings that some of that "evidence" was collected through a suspect named Abu Zubeydah, who is still detained in Guantanamo Bay and who was waterboarded 83 times and subjected to torture such as sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and confinement in small dark boxes.

Mohamed Harkat escaped Algeria in 1990, at the start of the civil war that ravaged his country of birth for over a decade. He left to live in Pakistan and later came to Canada as a refugee claimant fearing for his life if he returned to Algeria. His arrest and subsequent imprisonment and treatment in Canada make him a perfect candidate for immediate arrest and detention in Algeria if deported there by the Canadian government.

According to Amnesty International, Algerian authorities "took no steps to open investigations and counter the impunity for grave human rights abuses and possible crimes against humanity, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of torture committed by security forces and armed groups in the 1990s during Algeria's internal conflict, which left an estimated 200,000 people killed or forcibly disappeared."

So why does the Canadian government want to send Mohamed Harkat back to Algeria? Do they want to turn him into another "disappeared" man?

After the Supreme Court of Canada deemed security certificates unconstitutional in 2007, Canada's new security certificate legislation was modelled on the British system. Two years ago, the British government was barred from deporting six Algerian men suspected of having links with Al-Qaida to Algeria over concerns of torture.

Despite what British government lawyers qualified as "agreements with Algeria against torture," the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that "potential future political instability in the country could undermine the assurances' longevity."

Why is Canada following the British model for security certificates yet turning a blind eye to decisions coming from that country -- decisions that would help keep Mohamed Harkat in Canada, away from torture?

Prime Minister Trudeau and his government are under a lot of pressure from the Conservatives, who are trying to paint them as soft on terrorism. This is not new. The Conservative government has taken a hard line on terrorism -- and anyone suspected of having links to it -- in the past. They did it when they passed sweeping anti-terrorism legislation in 2015, they did it when they refused to repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo, and they do it today on the issue of the return of Canadians who travelled overseas to fight in Syria. History has proven them wrong. Prime Minister Trudeau shouldn't bow to this political pressure. Mohamed Harkat has suffered enough. His place is in Canada. He should never be deported to torture.

Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a PhD in finance from McGill University. In 2008, she published a memoir, Hope and Despair, about her pursuit of justice, and recently, a novel about Muslim women, Mirrors and Mirages. You can follow her on Twitter @MoniaMazigh or on her blog www.moniamazigh.com


High Court quashes refusal by Minister of Justice to revoke deportation of Algerian

posted on November 04, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Aodhan O'Faolain
Source: The Irish Times
URL: [link]
Date: August 1, 2018

‘To lose one application is a misfortune; to lose a second looks like carelessness’, judge remarks

A High Court judge has quashed a refusal by the Minister for Justice to revoke a deportation order against an Algerian who was said to have links to Islamic terrorism and feared torture if returned to his home country.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found that the Minister’s decision not to revoke the deportation of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was in breach of fair procedures. He said that the Minister’s decision was significantly flawed because of a failure to apply a specific legal test with regard to evidence on which the refusal was based.

The judge adjourned the matter until September when he will hear submissions on whether or not the matter should again be remitted to the Minister in full or in part. The judgment was the third occasion where the courts have ruled in favour of the man in respect of challenges brought against the refusal to revoke the order.

The Supreme Court in July 2017 quashed the Minister’s first refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in late 2016 and also remitted the man’s case to the Minister for further reconsideration.

The Supreme Court’s ruling followed an appeal against an earlier High Court decision that the Minister’s belief was lawful on the basis there were no substantial grounds of a real risk of ill-treatment if the man was deported.

Last December, Mr Justice Humphreys quashed the second refusal by the Minister to revoke the deportation order due to a failure to inform the man’s lawyers that certain information about Algeria was relied upon by the Minister when considering the application to revoke. Mr Justice Humphreys had sent the matter back for fresh consideration.

Then in February, after the case has been reconsidered, the Minister again refused to revoke the deportation order. It led to new legal argument on a breach of fair procedures and that the Minister’s decision was irrational in having failed to apply the correct legal test.

Lawyers for the State had submitted there had been significant improvements with regard to the protection of human rights in Algeria especially since 2016.

In finding that there had been a breach of fair procedures, Mr Justice Humphreys said his reasons last December for quashing the Minister’s failure to revoke the order and sending it back, had either been “misunderstood” or “simply ignored.”

“If I may be permitted to borrow from Oscar Wilde, to lose one application may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose a second on the same grounds looks like carelessness”, the judge said.

It had been alleged the man, who has been in custody since 2016, was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France and had previously used multiple identities. He had been jailed in Ireland for attempting to travel on a false passport.

The Minister issued a deportation order against the man in 2016 after gardaí informed the Department of Justice they were seriously concerned about his activities and those of his associates which, gardaí believed, were “contrary to the State’s security”.

Aged in his 50s, the man has lived in Ireland for several years and denies being involved in terrorism or in groups including al-Qaeda. He claims he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.

He claimed that during the 1990s he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences. These offences had included forming an armed terrorist group intending to spread murder, sabotage, possession of prohibited war weapons assassination and theft intending to harm the security of his home country.

He was jailed for eight years following his arrest in France in 2002 after he was found guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an act of terrorism.

© 2018 THE IRISH TIMES


Judgment reserved in Algerian man's challenge against deportation order

posted on August 11, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Ann O'Loughlin
Source: The Irish Examiner
URL: [link]
Date: July 24, 2018


Judgment has been reserved at the High Court in a challenge against another refusal by the Minister for Justice to revoke a deportation order made against an Algerian man with alleged links to Islamic terrorism.

This is the third such challenge brought on behalf of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons and who fears being tortured if returned to Algeria.

The State has opposed the application and argues the Minister's decision to remove the man from the State should be upheld.

The Supreme Court in July 2017 quashed the Minister's first refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in late 2016 and also remitted the man's case back to the Minister for further reconsideration.
The Supreme Court's ruling came after the man appealed an earlier High Court order which found the Minister's decision that there were no substantial grounds to find he would be at real risk of ill-treatment if deported to his home country was lawful.

Last December the High Court quashed the second refusal by the Minister to revoke the deportation order due to a failure to inform the man's lawyers that certain information about Algeria was relied upon by the Minister when considering the application to revoke.

The High Court sent back the matter back for fresh consideration. Last February, after the case has been reconsidered, the Minister again refused to revoke the deportation order against the man.

That decision was the subject of the challenge which Mr Justice Humphreys said should be quashed.

Michael Lynn SC, with David Leonard Bl argued before Mr Justice Richard Humphrey's that the Minister's decision should be quashed.

This it was argued was because there is a danger the man's rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits torture and being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, would be breached if he was returned to Algeria.

Three reports on human rights and prison conditions in Algeria from internationally recognised experts in support of the man's claims were submitted to the court.

Counsel said the man has been in custody in Ireland since 2016,

Opposing the challenge Remy Farrell SC, with Sinead McGrath Bl for the Minister, said that there have been significant improvements in regards to the protection of human rights in Algeria especially since 2016.

Counsel said that there had been changes to the Algerian constitution, the establishment of a human rights body by the Algerian authorities.

In addition the Algerian government's intelligence agency, which had been accused of human rights abuses, the DRS had been disbanded.

Following the conclusion of submissions Tuesday Mr Justice Humphreys reserved judgment on the issue.

The man, who attended the court hearing was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France, and had previously used multiple identities and had been jailed in Ireland for attempting to travel on a false passport,

The Minister issued a deportation order against the man in 2016 after gardaí informed the Department of Justice the activities of the man and his associates were “of serious concern” and “contrary to the State’s security”.

The man, aged in his 50s and has lived in Ireland for several years. He denies being involved in terrorism or being involved in groups including Al-Qaeda.

He claims he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.

During the 1990s he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences.

Those offences include forming an armed terrorist group intending to spread murder, sabotage, possession of prohibited war weapons assassination, theft intending to harm the security of his home country.

He was jailed for eight years following his arrest in France in 2002 after he was found guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an Act of Terrorism.

© Irish Examiner Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork.


The Government Must Stop The Deportation Of Mohamed Harkat

posted on July 04, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Source: Huffington Post
URL: [link]
Date: June 25, 2018

What the government has put Harkat through has had a significant impact on his physical and mental health.

June 26 will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Today, though, there will be a rally at the Prime Minister's Office to once again call on the Canadian government to meet its commitments to counter torture in all its forms, including deporting innocent people to imprisonment and torture abroad.

In December 2002, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested in Ottawa by Canadian authorities and placed under a security certificate for alleged links to terrorism. For a decade and a half, he has lived a Kafkaesque experience of never once being charged with a crime but being imprisoned for 43 months in a maximum-security prison, put under house arrest and placed under some of the most severe bail conditions in Canadian history. He continues to face strict bail conditions today.

Despite never facing trial, never seeing the full evidence used against him and never even formally being accused of a crime, Canada continues to threaten Harkat — a United Nations Convention refugee — with deportation to Algeria, where he will be imprisoned and will very likely face torture.

Today, Harkat's fate lies with the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. Harkat could be deported to torture or he could be granted the status to continue to live a peaceful life in Ottawa with his wife, Sophie Lamarche, and his family and friends.

For them, he is simply "Moe," a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. But Moe, Sophie and their friends and family have been living in constant fear since the deportation proceedings against him were started three years ago, in 2015.

Since 2009, all of the assessments conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) as well as esteemed psychiatristsconcluded unequivocally that Harkat poses a very low risk to Canada, placing him at lowest level of risk on the scale.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) has closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002, working with the Justice for Mohamed Harkat campaign. In 2013, ICLMG obtained intervener status in the Supreme Court case opposing Harkat to the Canadian government.

Today, as we have done for the last 15 years, we oppose the highly problematic use of secret intelligence in these cases and the lack of access to the "evidence" against the suspects, which makes it impossible for those accused to mount a defence.

The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada

In October 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly stated, "Nobody ever deserves to be tortured. And when a Canadian government is either complicit in that or was not active enough in preventing it, there needs to be responsibility taken."

The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada by immediately ending the deportation proceedings and lifting the security certificate that has dogged Harkat and his loved ones for more than 15 years.

The toll of just the security certificate and its draconian rules approach what many would deem "cruel and unusual punishment." Sophie herself has described the "psychological torture" that they have gone through, including: being constantly followed by CBSA agents, restricting Harkat from taking on any employment that requires a cell phone or a computer, driving across provincial lines, unannounced visits and arbitrary house searches, and contradictory instructions from CBSA that cause further confusion and stress around following bail conditions.

What the government has put Harkat through has had a significant impact on his physical and mental health. Last year, the clinical director of the Integrated Forensic Program at the Royal Ottawa Health produced a report on Harkat based on 112 evaluation sessions going back to 2009, as well as additional interviews dating back to 2005, which found that he has a "history of chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress related to having been incarcerated."

It goes on to describe how "Mr. Harkat has experienced recurrent visions on a virtually daily basis over several months of being arrested, incarcerated, deported and tortured. Sometimes he has visions of being shot by CBSA due to a misunderstanding, minor misstep or accidental violation of his bail conditions."

After living this dreadful experience for 16 years, Harkat deserves to go on with his life. The Canadian government has the power to make that happen today.


More from HuffPost Canada:

Mohamed Harkat Urges Ralph Goodale To Let Him Stay In Canada

Terror Suspect Mohamed Harkat Unlikely To Commit Violent Acts, Psychiatrist Says

Hold CBSA Accountable For Deporting Detainees To Torture

Under the law governing Security Certificates, section 42.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Goodale can decide that allowing Harkat to stay in Canada is not contrary to the national interest. Based on court assessments, this a fact which to us is already clear.

Today at the Prime Minister's office, tomorrow on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and every day, we'll urge the Minister to use the power afforded to him under the law to stop the deportation of Harkat.

Copyright © 2018 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.


Deported by Algeria, migrants abandoned in the Sahara Desert

posted on July 04, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Victoria Gatenby
Source: al Jazeera
URL: [link]
Date: June 25, 2018

UN migration agency accuses Algiers of neglecting over 13,000 migrants forced to walk long distances without food or water

WATCH VIDEO REPORT.

The United Nations migration agency says Algeria has neglected more than 13,000 migrants in the Sahara Desert in the past 14 months. The migrants, who include pregnant women and children, are left without food or water and forced to walk long distances.

Algeria denies committing human rights abuses, calling the allegations a malicious campaign.

Al Jazeera's Victoria Gatenby reports (see VIDEO LINK above).

© 2018 Al Jazeera Media Network


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