VIDEO: Ottawa Sun Interview with Mohamed and Sophie (Nov, 2012)

posted on December 15, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Doug Hempstead
Source: The Ottawa Sun
URL: [link]
Date: November 22, 2012

Mohamed and Sophie at home, Nov 2012
LINK TO VIDEO: www.justiceforharkat.com/download.php?view.270

Source: OTTAWA SUN: Mohamed Harkat gets shot to clear himself at Supreme Court



Les 10 ans d'enfer de Mohamed Harkat

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Philippe Orfali
Source: La Presse
Date: 11 décembre 2012

[PHOTO: Hier marquaient les dix ans de l'arrestation de Mohamed Harkat, devant son appartement d'Ottawa.]

Le 10 décembre 2002, tout basculait pour Mohamed Harkat, son épouse Sophie et leurs proches. Alors qu'il sortait faire des emplettes, l'homme d'origine algérienne à la vie en apparence rangée était arrêté. Son crime allégué, le pire de tous: terrorisme.

Pour quelles raisons, et surtout, en se basant sur quelles preuves? Impossible de le savoir. Arrêté en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité, celui qui avait obtenu en 1998 le statut de réfugié n'aura pas accès à l'ensemble des preuves que détient le gouvernement contre lui.

« Ça viole à peu près tous les principes du droit. Chacun a droit de savoir ce qu'on lui reproche. Or, ce n'est pas le cas avec ceux qui font l'objet d'un certificat de sécurité», a souligné hier Elizabeth May, la chef du Parti vert.

Hier marquaient les dix ans de l'arrestation de Mohamed Harkat, devant son appartement d'Ottawa. Dix années, dont près de quatre passées derrière les barreaux, certaines passées en incarcération solitaire.

Comble de l'ironie, cette date coïncide avec la Journée internationale des droits de la personne.

« Ce pays ne représente plus les valeurs humaines avec lesquelles j'ai été élevée, laisse tomber Pierrette Brunette, la belle-mère de Mohamed Harkat. La vie de ma famille a été, est et sera à jamais perturbée par toutes les conditions de vie de mon gendre. Ce sont des facteurs difficiles à supporter, même après tout ce temps-là.»

© La Presse, ltée. Tous droits réservés.



Canada's secret trials, immigration policy under fire on Human Rights Day

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Canada's Immigration Policy | PermaLink

by David P. Ball
Source: Rabble.ca
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2012

Organizers in at least eight cities across the country are rallying support for Canadian Muslims rounded up in the so-called War on Terror -- particularly the ongoing punishment without trial of three men under security certificates.

The events, which kicked off last night with a candlelight vigil in Vancouver, include what is billed as a "family-friendly noise demonstration" in front of Montreal's Laval Immigration Prevention Centre today, as well as events in Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Halifax.

The actions coincide with the unveiling, 64 years ago, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 -- a document frequently cited by the Canadian government as it criticizes other regimes' behaviour around the world, such as Iran or Syria.

But Dec. 10 is not only International Human Rights Day. It is also the day that Mohamed Harkat was arrested on alleged terrorism-related charges ten years ago, when he was imprisoned for nearly four years, one of which in solitary confinement.

Last week, fellow security certificate detainee Mohammed Mahjoub -- who heads to court tomorrow (Dec. 11) for a review of his security certificate conditions -- demanded an independent inquiry into abuses under Canada's secret trials regime.

"I am a political prisoner here in Canada," Mahjoub said in a statement. "My case is political; it is not a legal one."

"Never in these twelve years have I been charged with any crime. Never has the secret information used to destroy my reputation been disclosed to me. Never have I been given the dignity of a fair and open trial... My hands are far, far cleaner than the hands of the Canadian and Egyptian officials involved in my case. I have never terrorized any person in my life. Today I am calling for an independent inquiry into my case, aimed at holding the individuals, agencies and structures responsible for all these abuses accountable for their actions."

Mahjoub was locked in jail for eight years following his arrest in 2000, nearly three of which he was in solidarity confinement, until his subsequent house arrest for four-and-a-half years that continues today. Canada also maintains certificates for Harkat and Mahmoud Jaballah.

The protests also draw attention to the federal government's new immigration and refugee crackdown, which kicks into effect on Dec. 15 -- allowing for automatic, indefinite detention of so-called "irregular" asylum-seekers, making deportations to certain countries easier, and reducing appeal rights.

"We deliberately wanted to put security certificates back in the context of immigration issues," Mary Foster, with the Justice for Mahjoub Network, told rabble.ca. "It is important to address the issue of immigration detention because thousands of people are being detained every year, without any charge, trial and for indefinite periods -- in the cases of security certificate detainees, for more than a decade."

"In other words, the liberty of immigrants is being treated as worthless, and with a great deal less respect than that of many other people in the country -- it is a complete violation of the principle of equality. It is important to understand the role that security certificates play in justifying immigration detention. By playing up the idea that immigrants are dangerous, and need to be controlled for public safety, the government is able to gain support for their anti-immigrant policies, and silence outcry against injustices towards immigrants."

In Vancouver, a small circle gathered in the darkness with candles outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, reading poetry, singing and speaking about post-9/11 racial profiling and Islamophobia in Canada.

"We're against security certificates as a form of racial profiling," vigil organizer Imtiaz Popat, with the group Siraat, told rabble.ca. "Although the security certificates existed before 9/11, they have been used against Muslims specifically."

"The State -- whether it be the United States, Canada or any state -- is using the War on Terror as an excuse to take away our human rights. It's not just Muslims -- all our civil liberties are being taken away in the name of the War on Terror. These are excuses to take away our rights."

Also attending the rally was José Figueroa, a Salvadoran refugee to Vancouver who has faced deportation for several years, and continues to fight for his and other refugee rights through the We Are All José campaign.

"We are here to support this vigil for people suffering the injustices here in Canada,” he told rabble.ca. "This was called to support refugees and immigrants facing bogus allegations of terrorism.

"Myself, I'm here to fight for the rights of my family, who are Canadians. We need to unite the community on these issues."

Figueroa said that the use of secret evidence against people issued security certificates is particularly troubling, and represents a significant abuse of human rights.

"That's the main problem: the secret evidence that is being used," he added. "Nobody knows what it is. What kind of information does the Canadian government have? They need to be more specific, and be open with the Canadian people."

According to a top lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who spoke in Vancouver several months ago, the very notion of a "global war on terror" is at the root of what critics see as abuses of civil liberties and human rights.

"The global war against terrorism [is] a very dangerous idea," ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said. "It's a dangerous proposition that we are involved in this war that has no temporal boundary, no geographic boundary, and is really against an enemy that is really difficult to identify.

"To say that we're in a global war against terrorism or a global war against Al-Qaeda is really to propose something quite drastic and radical – it's to propose that we're in a forever-war and in a everywhere-war."

Canada's little-known secret trials program is one outcome of this battle, whose battlefield is more and more undefined. But the certificates' personal impact on the 28 individuals they have targeted is devastating, Popat said.

"It's a travesty of human rights how they've been treated, and many others have been treated," the Siraat spokesperson argued, pointing to current Egyptian protests against the new constitution as an example of Western government's "hypocrisy."

"When [Egyptian president] Mohamed Morsi gives himself these so-called powers, they scream foul," Popat added. "Yet, when the United States and Canada do the same thing and take away our civil liberties, that's fine -- that's okay. There's double standards there."

"There are many contradictions that not just this government, but other Canadian governments, have had in terms of human rights violations -- starting with the treatment of Aboriginal people here in this country."

For ACLU's Jaffer, any curtailment of enshrined legal rights affects everyone, not only the minority groups singled out, such as Muslims -- and human rights must be vigorously defended.

"I wasn't around during the McCarthy era, but there are certainly at least loose parallels to what happened then... Once you accept the notion that we're at war all over world, it's very easy to accept the idea we can detain people picked up anywhere in the world -- detained militarily without charge or trial, indefinitely -- until the war is over."

Protecting and increasing human rights -- whether in Canada or abroad -- is an important task, Popat concludes. And it is important to fight not only for civil liberties, but Aboriginal rights, housing, an end to poverty, and other rights enshrined in the UN declaration -- even if they are rarely upheld.

"Human rights are a lofty goal," admits Popat. "But they're a threshold."

"The UN Declaration of Human Rights is a good document. It's not perfect, but the fact is, we don't have human rights; they are something we strive for."

David P. Ball is a writer and photojournalist in Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish land. You can read interviews and more of his work at the Left Coast Post blog on Rabble.ca. His website is www.davidpball.net . On Twitter: @davidpball

Copyright © 2001-2012 the authors



Are Your Human Rights Safe in Canada?

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Shahla Khan Salter
Source: The Huffington Post Canada
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2012


Monday, December 10 is International Human Rights Day. And on this day three Canadians remain in prison in Iran. All three have been charged with computer-related crimes. The reason? Measures against "illegal" computer use are ruthlessly enforced by the Iranian government in an effort to wipe out online information against that government.

Our Canadian government has not been able to secure the release of these three Canadians. Talk of war against Iran makes their release ever more improbable. Will they languish there forever?

Or will a bomb, manufactured in the Western world, simply drop, one day, on Evin Prison and kill all the innocent people inside, including our three Canadians.

People say, "Well -- it's too bad they went there. They should have known better." Are we safer here in Canada?

Legally, yes. Canadian law is clear. Section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to "everyone" and grants us the rights to be informed of the charge against us; tried within a reasonable period of time; not to be compelled to testify against ourselves; to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; and not to be found guilty unless the action is a crime. (These are only a portion of our Charter rights.)

The result? A vast body of Canadian law has been developed that upholds the rights of individuals even in the face of the most heinous crimes.

It means, here in Canada if the evidence is tainted by a denial of individual rights, the case can be dismissed. The protection of the individual in some cases is known to cause outrage.

But what happens if society offers no protection to the individual? Here is what would happen if you were arrested and you had no section 11 rights:

- You would not know the reason the police have arrested you.

- You would not have the right to stay silent. As a result, torture or aggressive police tactics could more likely be used to extract a confession from you, causing you to admit to a crime you did not commit.

- You would not have the right to hear the evidence against you and challenge it. So if someone said you did it, it would be regarded as true.

- You would not even have the right to challenge whether the activity that led to the arrest -- such as associating with certain people, and/or living a particular lifestyle -- constituted a crime.

In other words there would be no fair trial.

It means if your neighbours thought you were a witch, capable of causing death and destruction, you would be a witch. And if your neighbours thought you should be exiled because they didn't want witches in the community causing trouble, you would be sent away or worse.

In Canada have we moved past this notion? Not entirely.

Because in Canada, today, in light of the cases of Mohamed Harkat, Mohammad Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah, if someone thinks you are a terrorist -- and someone said you are a terrorist even under torture (as in the case of Mahjoub), notwithstanding that you may have committed no terrorist act -- you may be arrested, thrown in prison, or placed under house arrest, tried without knowing the evidence against you and then deported to a country where you may be tortured and killed.

Are we a nation where the rights of criminals including pedophiles such as Graham James, Christopher Neil and others are protected -- (they were innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and remain innocent of any other crimes that potentially may have taken place) -- while men like Harkat, Mahjoub and Jaballah are locked up and labelled as "terrorists" because they "might" be guilty?

According to Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights we are. And we must change.

We must uphold the Canadian ideals found in our Charter. We must do it to protect ourselves both as individuals and a society, to ensure freedom and justice. We must remember the words of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: ''Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.''

Or the terrorists -- the real ones -- will win. And if our justice system resembles theirs in any way shape or form, they already have.

Don't be an ayatollah Mr. Toews. Prove they are guilty against the same standards you use to prove all those pedophiles are guilty. Or set them free.

Shahla Khan Salter is the Chair of Muslims for Progressive Values Canada

Copyright © 2012 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.



VIDEO: Our Press Conference in Ottawa, December 10th

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Thank you, OttawaFRO, for filming and uploading to YouTube this video footage from Monday's Press conference in Ottawa. The press conference was hosted by Amnesty International Canada.


Mohamed Harkat, dix ans plus tard

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Bahador Zabihiyan
Source: Le Devoir
URL: [link]
Date: 11 décembre 2012

[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat devant le Parlement, à Ottawa.]

Le 10 décembre 2002, Mohamed Harkat se faisait passer les menottes devant l’immeuble où il habitait à Ottawa, par un agent des services frontaliers. « Je pensais que tout rentrerait dans l’ordre en l’espace de quelques minutes », se souvient-il. Mais après trois ans et demi passés en prison et plus de six ans en résidence surveillée, le gouvernement le soupçonne toujours de terrorisme, en vertu d’un certificat de sécurité.

Son comité de soutien s’est rassemblé sur la colline parlementaire, lundi, pour souligner cette date anniversaire. La saga judiciaire que vit M. Harkat pourrait venir à terme en 2013 : la Cour suprême a récemment accepté de se pencher sur son cas en particulier et sur le régime des certificats de sécurité en général.

Les certificats de sécurité sont délivrés par le gouvernement fédéral lorsqu’il craint qu’une personne représente un danger pour la sécurité nationale ou constitue une menace terroriste. Trois certificats sont présentement actifs au pays, dont celui de M. Harkat. Cette procédure permet de détenir une personne pour une durée indéterminée sans accusation et sans accès à la preuve.

Cour suprême

Dans le cas de M. Harkat, un juge avait initialement conclu, selon la prépondérance des probabilités, qu’il avait participé à des activités terroristes, qu’il constituait un danger pour la sécurité du Canada et qu’il était membre du réseau d’Oussama ben Laden. M. Harkat nie toute activité terroriste. M. Harkat souhaite que la preuve détenue contre lui soit rendue publique afin qu’il puisse prouver son innocence. En 2007, la Cour suprême avait invalidé certaines clauses du régime de certificats de sécurité, arguant qu’elles allaient à l’encontre de la Charte canadienne des droits et des libertés. Malgré ces modifications, la Cour suprême va être de nouveau appelée à se prononcer sur la procédure, dans le courant de 2013.

Depuis 2006, M. Harkat est assigné à résidence à Ottawa, avec de sévères restrictions. Il doit notamment porter un appareil GPS à la cheville en tout temps et il n’a pas le droit de se servir d’un ordinateur ou d’un téléphone cellulaire. « Je n’ai encore jamais utilisé Internet de toute ma vie », dit-il. Ces restrictions l’empêchent d’occuper un emploi et de fonder une famille, estime-t-il.

Avec La Presse canadienne

© Le Devoir 2002-2012



Photos From Ottawa Rally and Press Conference, Dec 10

posted on December 11, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Thanks to Philippe Parent and others for taking these photos from Monday's 10th anniversary event in Ottawa.

Dec 10, 2012, Ottawa
Click on image to see more photos from Monday's rally and visual presentation on Parliament Hill

Gabrielle at press conference, Dec 10, 2012
Click on image to see more photos from Monday's press conference.



Harkat marks 10th anniversary of arrest on International Human Rights Day

posted on December 10, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Michelle Zilio
Source: iPolitics.ca
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2012

In 2002, Mohamed Harkat had many hopes for his future, including a modest home, kids and a “normal life” with his wife Sophie. He was working as a pizza delivery man and gas station cashier at the time.

A decade later, Harkat is fighting to stay in Canada and avoid deportation. Ten years ago Monday, on International Human Rights Day, Harkat was arrested in Ottawa on a security certificate, a rarely-used removal instrument for non-citizens suspected of being spies or terrorists. He was jailed for 43 months followed by 3.5 years of the toughest bail and house arrest conditions in Canadian history.

“Before I got arrested, we were planning to have a house, have kids, have normal life, and now it’s all up in the air,” said Harkat, an Algerian citizen who made his refugee claim in Canada in 1995. “Ten years later, I have been left in (the) dark.”

While the government has suspicions of him being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, Harkat has consistently denied any links to terrorism. He is one of three men in Canada, all Muslims, who have appeared before the courts on a security certificate.

Standing in the rain on Parliament Hill Monday morning, Harkat and approximately 20 supporters marked the 10th anniversary of his initial arrest.

“It’s a sad day. It’s supposed to be celebrating human rights in Canada and justice for all. Ten years later, you see me fighting for something everybody has a right to — an open and fair trial,” said Harkat.

After a short demonstration on the steps of the Hill, Harkat and his family made their way into Centre Block for an emotionally-charged press conference led by Amnesty International. Politicians, human rights groups and Harkat’s family members called for the government to “drop the security certificate regime.”

Under the federal security certificate law, established in 1978, the government has the power to indefinitely detain non-citizens suspected of being terrorists, use secret evidence against them and deport them to any country, regardless of whether they they could face torture.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews would not comment on the Harkat case Monday. His press secretary, Julie Carmichael, said in an email the government believes security certificates are needed to protect Canadians from “dangerous foreign nationals, including terrorists,” as “it is clear that Canada is not immune from the threat of homegrown or international radical led terrorism.”

NDP Public Safety Critic Randall Garrison and Green Party MP Elizabeth May beg to differ. They supported Harkat at the press conference Monday.

“With the political excuse that terrorism allows us to drop all our norms, forget about human rights and that anything including torture is permissible in an era where terrorism can be whispered, I think it’s really important to stand firmly that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is non-negotiable and security certificates are offensive,” said May. ”Mohamed Harkat has put up with a great deal of uncertainty. His family has been enormously brave.”

The past decade has been a roller coaster of emotions for Mohamed and his family.

After five years in jail and under house arrest, Mohamed had a glimmer of hope in 2007 when the Supreme Court struck down the security certificate regime, deeming it unfair for accused individuals, and asked the government to rework the process.

A year later, the government claimed to have improved the process, using lawyers as watchdogs to monitor evidence against individuals facing deportation. Mohamed was arrested again and reissued a security certificate for breaching his bail conditions – something he still says he did not do.

The Harkat family experienced a sigh of relief in 2009, when it was found that one of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service informants in the case had failed a lie detector test. A few months later, the court suddenly removed some of Mohamed’s toughest bail conditions.

Although his bail conditions have improved, Mohamed is still required to wear a GPS tracking bracelet on his ankle at all times, and cannot use the internet, a phone outside of his home, or leave Ottawa without permission. He said the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) still follows him regularly.

“For example yesterday, the CBSA … was already parked outside of my house. See the kind of life I am living. I went to my mother in law’s to visit her yesterday and the car behind me was following me everywhere,” Mohamed told reporters Monday. “I can’t have normal life like anybody else.”

The family’s hopes were crushed again in December 2010 when Federal Court Justice Simon Noël ruled that the government’s decision that Mohamed was a terrorist threat was reasonable.

At Monday’s press conference, a tearful Gabrielle Brunette-Poirier, Mohamed’s 13-year-old niece, recounted the effects of the decade-long ordeal on her family.

“Not many kids can say that they have gone shopping for school supplies while being followed by CBSA agents or having their uncle tied up to an extension cord just so he can charge the GPS on his ankle,” said Brunette-Poirier, as Mohamed stood behind her, wiping tears from his face.

The most recent development in Mohamed’s case was welcomed by the Harkats. After the Federal Court ruled in April that some mid-1990s conversations be excluded from the evidence against Mohamed since CSIS destroyed the original tapes, both sides requested an appeal. On Nov. 22, the Supreme Court announced it would hear appeals from Mohamed and the government in 2013.

“The Supreme Court accepting the case will raise the bar higher than expected,” said Mohamed. “I hope, after ten years, this is the last period of injustice. I hope it ends in good news for me.”

twitter.com/michellezilio

michellezilio AT ipolitics DOT ca

© 2012 iPolitics Inc.



Harkat defenders repeat call to end security certificates

posted on December 10, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by The Canadian Press
Source: CBC News
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2012

Ottawa man arrested ten years ago still wears electronic tracking bracelet

[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat participates in a rally Monday on Parliament Hill marking the tenth anniversary of his arrest and detention on a security certificate.]

Human-rights advocates marked the 10th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat's arrest by calling for an end to national security certificates — the immigration tool used to detain the Algerian refugee.

Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada says the security certificate regime should be replaced with one that guarantees a fair trial and ensures no evidence extracted through torture is allowed.

Harkat, 44, was taken into custody Dec. 10, 2002, on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

The Ottawa man denies any involvement in terrorist activities.

Security certificates have been used since 1991 to deport non-citizens accused of being terrorists or spies.

Harkat lives at home with wife Sophie, but wears an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, must check in with authorities regularly and cannot leave town without permission.

The person named in a security certificate receives only a summary of the case against them, which critics say makes a mockery of fundamental justice.

Harkat's case has been bound up in various legal proceedings since the former pizza delivery man's arrest.

Certificates 'not acceptable practice'

NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison told a news conference Monday that detaining individuals for years without charge, trial or conviction "is not an acceptable practice in Canada."

Green party Leader Elizabeth May said security certificates violate "virtually every precept of our laws and system of human rights."
Mohamed Harkat listens to his mother-in-law, Pierrette Brunette, speak during a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday. Mohamed Harkat listens to his mother-in-law, Pierrette Brunette, speak during a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Harkat wiped away tears as his niece Gabrielle spoke of shopping for school supplies with her uncle while being followed by Canada Border Services Agency officers.

"I have heard many things about my uncle," she said. "But the only Moe I know cares about his family, is always there to help his neighbours, likes to cheer me on when I'm playing hockey."

The Supreme Court of Canada recently agreed to hear a challenge of the security certificate system brought by Harkat and his lawyers.

The hearing, likely to take place next year, will come more than five years after the Conservative government revamped the certificate regime in an effort to make it consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government continues to defend security certificates, and notes they are used only in exceptional circumstances.

Two other security certificate cases — concerning men both originally from Egypt — remain before the courts.

© The Canadian Press, 2012

Copyright © CBC 2012



Supreme Court to hear appeals from both sides in Harkat terrorism case

posted on November 22, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by The Canadian Press
Source: CTV News
URL: [link]
Date: November 22, 2012

SCOC to hear appeals from both sides in Harkat terrorism case

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada will hear appeals from both parties in the terrorism case of Algerian refugee Mohamed Harkat.

Harkat, 44, was arrested almost 10 years ago in Ottawa on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, but he denies any involvement in terrorist activities.

The federal government wants to deport Harkat under a national security certificate, a rarely used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of being terrorists or spies.

In April, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the security certificate system, but ruled that summaries of some mid-1990s conversations be excluded from evidence against Harkat because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service destroyed the original recordings.

The ruling left both sides unhappy and each asked for a hearing in the Supreme Court -- an uncommon turn of events.

As usual, the high court gave no reasons for its decision to hear the appeals.

2012 Bell Media All rights reserved.



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