VIDEO of Saturday's Rallyposted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.
Security certificate injustice for Mohamed Harkat: Nine years onposted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Date: December 9, 2011
Think back to December 10, 2002 -- nine years ago this weekend, International Human Rights Day.
Perhaps on that day you were aware of the human rights significance, and perhaps not. But more importantly, what were you doing with your life back then? Were you in a different job? A different city? Perhaps in the interim you earned a post-secondary degree or diploma, or possibly more than one. How many job interviews did you attend in those nine years? How much money have you earned? Did you have children? Did you visit relatives in another province? Perhaps take a honeymoon? Travel abroad?
None of these things have been possible for Mohamed Harkat. This weekend -- International Human Rights Day -- marks the ninth anniversary of the detention of Mohamed Harkat under a security certificate -- a draconian detention under the so-called Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act for which no charge is laid, and the information on which the allegation is based is kept secret from the detainee and their lawyers.
On Dec. 10, 2002, Mohamed Harkat was arrested and detained on a security certificate. His long battle against injustice began that day, and today it continues. He was detained, first in the Ottawa jail in solitary confinement, then in general population, and for a period of six months in an immigration detention centre -- dubbed Guantanamo North -- at the Kingston penitentiary. In 2007, a major victory was realized for human rights when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Security Certificate process unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the Harper government merely made cosmetic changes to the regime, introducing so-called "Special Advocates" who, while they are privy to the secret proceedings, are not allowed to talk to the detained after proceedings begin except in highly controlled circumstances.
In 2006, Mohamed Harkat -- "Moe" to his friends and family -- was released under the strictest release conditions in Canadian history. He was accompanied 24 hours a day by his wife, and was only allowed out of his home on outings of four hours, twice per week. All destinations on the outings had to be pre-approved by CBSA, and often they were not approved. Their phone calls were monitored and their mail photocopied. To give you a sense of how ridiculous the conditions were, Moe could not go into the house for a forgotten bottle of ketchup during a family barbecue without his wife Sophie accompanying him. To give you a sense of how draconian they were, when Mohamed Mahjoub, another detainee with similar conditions, took his wife to hospital, CBSA agents followed him into his wife's room while she was having a miscarriage.
Mohamed Harkat and his wife Sophie were quite optimistic that second certificate, issued after the new legislation was passed in 2008, would be quashed. They felt that the public case was clearly not strong enough to convince the judge that the government's claims were reasonable, and they hoped the special advocates would ensure that claims made in the secret information would be challenged. But the certificate was upheld, and to this day Moe has no idea why, because the secret information has remained secret. Human rights defenders familiar with the situation rightly believe basic human rights such as the right to know the case against you are being abrogated.
While two Security Certificates -- those on Hassan Almrei and on Adil Charkaoui -- have been defeated or quashed, three men -- Moe, Mr. Mahjoub, and Mahmoud Jaballah -- still live in limbo. They cannot live full lives, and nor can their families. The stigma that prevents them from working or leading normal lives in Canada is the same stigma that, should they be deported or leave voluntarily for their country of origin, would put their lives in danger and place them at risk of torture.
Revelations this week that Jim Judd, former director of CSIS, expressed concerns that banning information gleaned from torture would weaken security certificate cases, could not be more timely. For an agency whose leader could so cavalierly suggest that it needed to rely on evidence, not gleaned from torture, but gleaned from information gleaned from torture (as if that would be okay), this is only the most recent in a series of blows that reveal how paranoid the secret intelligence agency has become.
It is time for the security certificate regime to end. Mohamed Harkat wants his life back. Rally in Ottawa on December 10 or sign the Statement Against Security Certificates. Make a donation: Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee, 14 Perkins St., Ottawa, ON., K1R 7G5
Copyright © 2001-2011 the authors
Photos of Saturday's Rallyposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Mohamed Harkat speaking to supporters in Ottawa, December 10, 2011. Photo by Gabrielle Brunette Poirier.
Harkat anniversary rally draws dozensposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Source: The Ottawa Sun
Date: December 10, 2011
See also this VIDEO report of the Rally. By Danielle Bell.
Even though courts recently ruled Mohamed Harkat does have ties to terrorism, his supporters are protesting his treatment on the 9th anniversary of his charges.
Dozens of people gathered at the human rights monument in downtown Ottawa on Saturday to support Harket.
Harkat, an accused al-Qaida sleeper agent who has been fighting to stay in Canada since he was arrested on a federal security certificate, declared his innocence to a throng of supporters and media.
Flanked by wife Sophie, Harkat said the conditions he is forced to live with have taken a toll on himself and family.
“It’s my life destroyed completely,” said Harkat on Saturday. “I’ve never chatted to a criminal, I’ve never had a criminal record, I’ve never been involved with terrorism, I’ve never seen the evidence against me.”
Among his conditions, Harkat cannot use the Internet, is monitored by GPS and cannot leave Ottawa without permission.
An online petition in his support has gathered about 5,000 signatures.
“It’s simply impossible for people like Mohamed Harkat to have a fair trial when secret evidence is involved,” said supporter Evert Hoogers, a retired postal worker. “None of that is acceptable to me.”
Several speakers, including human rights activists, spoke at the rally, which included chants and banners in support Harkat.
An unidentified man stood next to the Harkats, with his mouth duct-taped, hands bound and blindfolded.
“This war on terrorism has been a direct attack on each and every human citizen’s human rights,” said Larry Rousseau, regional vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “If we sit back and do nothing, we will lose what we have acquired.”
In December 2009, Harkat’s security certificate was upheld by a Federal Court Judge, who ruled the government had reasonable grounds to suspect Harkat of being a threat to Canadian public safety.
Kevin Skerrett, with the Justice for Mohamed Harket committee, hopes awareness will further the cause.
“I think as more people learn of the details of this, the more outraged they are,” said Skerrett.
Harkat is appealing his case and looking forward to a court date in February.
He said Saturday he is willing to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Justice is delayed. That’s all I’m hoping for,” said Harket. “I’m innocent. That’s all I want, just an open trial like anybody else.”
danielle.bell AT sunmedia.ca
Copyright © 2011 Sunmedia. All rights reserved.
Dozens rally to clear Mohamed Harkat's nameposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Date: December 10, 2011
An Ottawa man is still trying to clear his name after terror-related allegations surfaced nine years ago.
Mohamed Harkat continued to deny allegations that he is an Al-Qaeda sleeper agent at a rally in Ottawa Saturday afternoon.
Dozens of supporters gathered at the Human Rights Monument at the corner of Elgin and Lisgar to help draw attention to Harkat's goal.
"I'm going to fight until my last breath to clear my name and to have an open and fair trial," said Harkat.
Harkat says he is a refugee who fled Algeria and that he would be tortured if forced to return to his homeland.
The arrest took place on Dec. 10, 2002 under a Security Certificate which allows for detention without charge.
A notice sent to CTV Ottawa says Harkat has never been "afforded the opportunity to counter the allegations ... because the vast majority of the crown's case remains a secret."
Due to the allegations, Harkat faces deportation and continues his fight to stay in Canada. His case will be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal in February.
© 2011 CTV All rights reserved.
La détention de Mohamed Harkat dénoncée à Ottawaposted on December 10, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Source: La Presse
Date: 10 décembre 2011
Ottawa - Des membres de différents organismes de défense des droits humains, Amnistie Internationale en tête, étaient réunis à Ottawa, samedi, pour souligner le 9e anniversaire de l'arrestation de Mohamed Harkat, survenue le 10 décembre 2002.
Mohamed Harkat est l'un des trois hommes encore détenus au Canada en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité. Cette procédure juridique permet de détenir une personne pour une durée indéterminée sans accusation et sans accès à la preuve.
Le Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat soutient que les hommes ciblés par ces certificats n'ont jamais eu l'occasion de réfuter les allégations portées contre eux puisque le gouvernement garde presque toute la preuve secrète.
Une manifestation s'est tenue samedi, à midi devant le Monument des droits humains à Ottawa. Christian Legeais, porte-parole du Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat, fait partie de l'organisation de ce rassemblement. Il estime que la procédure appliquée contre l'accusé est inconstitutionnelle.
Les manifestants ont profité de la Journée internationale des droits humains, pour dénoncer cette façon de faire, qui repose selon eux sur des documents obtenus sous la torture et dont les matériaux d'origine (notes, entrevues, transcriptions) ont été détruits.
L'accusé fait également face à une menace de déportation vers l'Algérie, en vertu d'un jugement de la cour fédérale tombé en décembre 2010. Cette décision a été portée en appel et doit être entendue en février. M.Legeais se montre peu optimiste.
«Il n'y a pas de fait, qu'il n'y a que des allégations, comment voulez-vous que l'on soit optimiste? Ça ne repose sur rien», estime-t-il.
Assigné à résidence en juin 2006, après un emprisonnement de 43 mois, Mohamed Harkat porte encore un appareil GPS à la cheville et doit observer de nombreuses restrictions, mais clame toujours son innocence.
© La Presse, ltée. Tous droits réservés.
OP-ED: A zero-tolerance policy on tortureposted on December 07, 2011 | in Category War on Terror | PermaLink
Source: The National Post
Date: December 7, 2011
Canada abhors torture. We support all efforts to abolish it and to punish torturers. We insist that our policing and security agencies have nothing to do with it. That’s Canada’s public line. Yet every time we seem to reaffirm these fundamental principles, a loophole always presents itself involving the words “national security.”
The most recent disturbing example involves a 2008 memo from former CSIS director James Judd to then-minister of public safety Stockwell Day that has just come to light. In that document, Mr. Judd objected to a law-reform initiative spearheaded at the time by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh. As part of a court-ordered overhaul of the immigration security-certificate process, Mr. Dosanjh had proposed a measure to keep evidence that might have been the result of torture out of security-certificate proceedings. The amendment passed, clarifying the principle that when there are reasonable grounds to believe that information had been obtained by torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, it cannot be used.
It actually wasn’t all that ground-breaking. It essentially confirmed existing international and Canadian legal prohibitions. The UN Convention against Torture, ratified by Canada more than 25 years ago, makes it clear that the only time evidence obtained under torture can be used in court is when the torturer himself is the one on trial. But it was necessary to have the principle laid out explicitly with respect to security certificates.
But the issue keeps coming up. Yes, torture is bad. But what if it will help us catch a terrorist, crack a sleeper cell or thwart a terrorist attack? What if taking a strong stand against it makes it more difficult to co-operate with countries where torture is rampant?
Torture itself is never justified, even in the face of security threats such as terrorism. There are many good reasons for that absolute ban. For one, law enforcement and intelligence officers will tell you that you simply do not get good information by torturing it out of people. People will say anything and implicate anyone to end the electric shocks, simulated drowning, brutal beatings and threats to rape or kill loved ones. Sometimes, the information you get may be true, but often it will be false and simply distract police from pursuing more reliable leads.
And once you start using torture, the line keeps shifting. If it is OK to torture the terrorist mastermind, why not torture someone who knows where he is hiding, or his sister? Someone who goes to the same mosque or was born in the same village? There is no such thing as a little bit of torture. Its use inevitably expands.
Most critically, torture is never justified because it fundamentally violates the very notion of human dignity and integrity that is at the heart of what it is to have human rights in the first place. Governments understood that when they drafted human rights treaties. Allowing torture, whatever the reason, does not make us more secure. It keeps us trapped in the vicious circle of repression, resentment and reprisal that provides fertile ground for terrorism. We need to break that circle, not further it.
If torture itself is never OK, it can never be OK to take advantage of what the torturer has to sell. If all doors begin to close when the torturer comes calling with the confessions and leads that come out of the torture chamber, the market for torture starts to dry up. As a result, there is that much less incentive to torture in the first place.
So enough with what-ifs and qualifications. Whenever the issue of torture comes up — be it in our intelligence relationships, law reform or around the Cabinet table — there should be no hesitation. We must make it clear that Canada will have nothing to do with torture. No matter what.
Alex Neve is secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.
© 2011 National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.
CSIS 'has been lying to us for years'posted on December 06, 2011 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink
Source: The Montreal Gazaette
Date: December 5, 2011
[PHOTO: Former CSIS director Jim Judd issued a "secret" memo while at the helm of the spy agency April 15, 2000, stating the terrorism threat in Canada had not been exaggerated.}
MONTREAL - Advocates for five men arrested under security certificates said they were stunned to learn from a Gazette report that Canada’s spy agency believed cases against them could fall apart if it could not use information obtained by torture.
On Saturday, The Gazette revealed that in 2008, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned the minister of public security that it could become impossible to use security certificates to arrest and deport suspected terrorists if it was prohibited from using information from regimes known to use torture.
In a letter obtained by The Gazette, former CSIS director Jim Judd warned that a proposed bill then before Parliament “could render unsustainable the current security certificate proceedings.” A security certificate is a means by which the government may detain and deport non-citizens perceived as a threat to national security.
The letter calls into question CSIS’s assurances that it did not countenance the use of torture.
“It’s very disturbing that CSIS is so dependent on information that’s obtained from the use of torture that they would consider that these cases would fall apart without it,” said Mary Foster, a member of the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui.
Charkaoui, 37, was arrested in 2003 under a security certificate and cleared in 2009. He is seeking compensation from the federal government and has led a campaign against the arbitrary arrest of terror suspects.
“It is unbelievable. CSIS has been lying to us for years,” Charkaoui said in a statement. Charkaoui charged that by signing security certificates against him and other suspects after he received the warning from Judd, former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was “effectively condoning the use of torture and condemning us to several more years of arbitrary detention.”
Hassan Almrei, another former terror suspect cleared of allegations in 2009, also hailed the revelation. “It really makes me sick to think that when I was sitting in solitary confinement on secret allegations for almost eight years, the head of CSIS knew that my case, and the cases of the other men held on security certificate, were completely baseless, because they were likely based on information that came from torture,” the Toronto man said in a statement.
In February 2007, the Supreme Court struck down the security certificate legislation as unconstitutional and the government passed a new law to replace it in 2008.
In his letter, Judd urged the minister to fight a Liberal amendment to prohibit CSIS and the courts from using information obtained by torture or “derivative information” – information initially obtained by torture but subsequently corroborated by legal means.
But despite Judd’s urging, the government passed the amended Bill C-3 in February 2008.
However, Foster said the letter reveals an alarming readiness to use information that might have been obtained by torture despite the legal ban on doing so. “CSIS on their own evaluation thought that these cases were built on information that the law said they couldn’t use,” she said.
“It’s disturbing that they then went ahead and advised the ministers to issue the certificates. And it’s disturbing that the ministers went ahead and signed it, knowing that CSIS believed that it was based on information that would not pass (scrutiny),” she added.
In addition to Charkaoui and Almrei, the coalition is also demanding that the government drop charges against Toronto men Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub as well as Mohamed Harkat of Ottawa.
In an email message, CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti said the agency opposes the mistreatment of any individual by any foreign entity. “We do not condone the use of torture or other unlawful methods in responding to terrorism and other threats to national security,” she wrote.
mascot AT montrealgazette.com
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
© 2008 - 2011 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.
Looking for change in Harkat’s case after leakposted on December 06, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Source: Metronews Ottawa
Date: December 5, 2011
Leaked memo questioned security certificates’ viability if torture info inadmissible
Security certificates let government detain without trial
Supporters of an Ottawa man accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent hope a leaked memo about torture will prompt change in his case and the security certificate system.
A Jan. 15, 2008 letter was sent by former CSIS head Jim Judd to the public security minister as the government worked to amend a security-certificate law struck down by the courts, according to the Montreal Gazette, which obtained the letter.
Judd wrote that amending the law to keep courts from using information from countries where there’s “reasonable grounds” to believe torture is used would “significantly hinder” the security-certificate program, according to the Gazette. Making information derived from torture inadmissible would “render (the security-certificate program) unsustainable.”
But the law was amended. Matthew Webber, lawyer for security-certificate detainee Mohamed Harkat, said he wants to know why that hasn’t led to the collapse of any of the security-certificate cases.
“If Judd was saying this to the government back in 2008, one cannot help but conclude that, in at least one, if not more, of the cases, there was reliance on evidence obtained by torture or derivative of torture,” he said.
His client Mohamed Harkat was arrested in 2002 in Ottawa and detained on a security certificate. Harkat was released from detention to strict house arrest in 2006. His security certificate alleges he had ties to “the bin Laden network” and that there “are reasonable grounds to believe (he) has engaged or will engage in terrorism,” according to court documents.
Copyright 2001-2011, Free Daily News Group Inc.
Mohamed Harkat: 9 ans sans justiceposted on December 05, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Source: Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui, Campagne pour arrêter les procès secrets au Canada, Comité Justice pour Mohamed Harkat
Date: 5 décembre, 2011
Des hommes détenus en vertu de certificats de sécurité de l'immigration outrés d'apprendre que le SCRS et des hauts responsables du gouvernement savaient que leurs dossiers étaient basés sur la torture
Toronto/Montréal/Ottawa, 5 décembre 2011 – Plusieurs hommes dont les vies ont été chamboulées quand ils ont été étiquetés comme terroristes et arrêtés comme des menaces à la sécurité nationale ont été choqués d'apprendre samedi que le SCRS savait lui-même que les dossiers contre eux tomberaient si le SCRS n'avait pas le droit d'utiliser des preuves obtenues sous la torture. Cette admission ahurissante était contenue dans un mémo secret envoyée par l'ancien chef du SCRS Jim Judd à l'ancien ministre de la Sécurité publique Stockwell Day en janvier 2008. Post media a rendu le contenu de ce mémo public samedi.
« C'est incroyable. Le SCRS nous a menti durant des années! Mais je ne sais pas ce qui est pire: la position du SCRS ou le fait que des hauts responsables comme Stockwell Day étaient au courant mais ont continué et signé les nouveaux certificats contre nous quand-même, endossant effectivement l'usage de la torture et nous condamnant à plusieurs années de plus de détention arbitraire, » a déclaré Adil Charkaoui. Charkaoui est un professeur montréalais et père de quatre enfants qui a gagné deux fois en Cour Suprême et a finalement été libéré en 2009. Il tente actuellement d'obtenir des excuses du gouvernement à travers des procédures judiciaires.
Malgré sa propre analyse comme quoi les dossiers ne répondaient pas aux normes légales canadiennes, introduites en février 2008, le service a conseillé au ministre Day d'émettre les certificats. Day a accepté.
« Ça me rend vraiment malade de penser que pendant que j'étais détenu en isolement pour des allégations secrètes durant près de huit années, le chef du SCRS savait que mon dossier, ainsi que les dossiers des autres hommes détenus en vertu des certificats de sécurité, étaient complètement sans fondement, parce qu'ils étaient probablement basés sur des renseignements obtenus sous la torture, » a dit Hassan Almrei, un homme de Toronto qui a finalement été blanchi des allégations contre lui en 2009.
« Une fois de plus, nous voyons que le SCRS utilise le secret pour couvrir ce qui est non seulement embarrassant politiquement, mais aussi clairement illégal et immoral, » ajoute M. Almrei. Un autre mémo gouvernemental secret de 2003, rendu public durant l'enquête Arar, montre que les responsables du gouvernement savaient qu'il était impossible d'accuser M. Almrei au criminel faute de preuve contre lui.
Parmi les responsables qui ont reçu le mémo de Jim Judd, il y a Richard Fadden, qui a depuis remplacé Judd comme chef du SCRS. Fadden supervise les procédures actuelles des certificats de sécurité.
« Nos vies ont été chamboulées au nom de la sécurité nationale. Tout ce que nous voulons est que la vérité sorte et la seule façon d'y arriver c'est de tout rendre public pour que tous les Canadiens puissent le voir. Il n'y a pas de transparence sous le régime des certificats de sécurité et chaque fois que quelque chose comme ça est rendu public, le SCRS ne reçoit qu'une tape sur les doigts. Entretemps, nous payons le prix avec nos vies et notre liberté. C'est très troublant, mais ce n'est pas la première fois qu'ils nous cachent la vérité, » déclare Sophie Lamarche Harkat, qui est mariée à Mohamed Harkat. M. Harkat, accepté au Canada comme réfugié, lutte pour se libérer d'un certificat de sécurité depuis le 10 décembre 2002. Il est détenu à domicile à Ottawa.
Deux autres hommes, tous les deux basés à Toronto, continuent aussi à lutter pour leur liberté et pour laver leurs noms des allégations basées sur la torture. Le directeur d'école Mahmoud Jaballah, qui a survécu à la torture en Égypte, a été arrêté une première fois en 1999 et est devenu le premier détenu des certificats de sécurité à être libéré par la Cour fédérale. Mais il a été ré-arrêté en 2001, malgré le fait que le SCRS a reconnu qu'il n'avait pas de nouvelles preuves contre lui, seulement une « nouvelle interprétation » des informations qui avaient déjà été rejetées. Après plusieurs années d'emprisonnement, il est toujours détenu à domicile.
Mohammad Mahjoub, un père de deux enfants, a été arrêté en juin 2000. Il comparaîtra en cour à Toronto cette semaine pour argumenter qu'il devrait être libéré des conditions de détention à domicile qui contrôlent tous les détails de sa vie. Lui aussi a survécu à la torture en Égypte. Mahjoub a passé plus de huit années derrière les barreaux sans accusations et trois ans sous des mesures draconiennes de détention à domicile. Ses avocats vont démontrer que la poursuite de sa détention à domicile est illégale.
Pour des entrevues:
514 222 0205 (fr ou an) ou 647-668-8445 (an)
Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui
Campagne pour arrêter les procès secrets au Canada
Comité Justice pour Mohamed Harkat