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

posted on November 18, 2017 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Canadian Press
Source: Huffington Post
URL: [link]
Date: November 17, 2017

Mohamed Harkat, Nov 2017
Mohamed Harkat. November 16, 2017. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick (CP)

Mohamed Harkat is asking for authorities to loosen his restrictions.

OTTAWA — A psychiatrist who has treated terror suspect Mohamed Harkat for the last eight years says the refugee from Algeria is unlikely to commit violent acts.

Dr. Colin Cameron told a Federal Court of Canada hearing Friday on Harkat's release conditions that his patient supports democracy and expresses revulsion about terrorist attacks.

"I'm trained to be very skeptical of people," Cameron told the court. "I've asked a lot of pointed questions to him."

Harkat, who is closely monitored by Canadian border agency officials, wants general permission to use the internet outside his family home and to travel freely within Canada.

Authorities are asking the court to deny the requests and make only minor modifications to existing conditions, saying Harkat continues to pose a threat almost 15 years after being arrested.

As the two-day hearing wrapped up Friday, Justice Sylvie Roussel said she planned to issue a decision soon on whether to relax current restrictions.

Denies involvement in terrorism

Harkat, 49, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent but he denies any involvement in terrorism.

The federal government is trying to deport the former pizza-delivery man using a national security certificate — a legal tool for removing non-citizens suspected of ties to extremism or espionage.

He fears he will be tortured if returned to his Algerian homeland, something Cameron says Harkat has frequent nightmares about.

Federal Court Justice Simon Noel ruled in 2010 that there were grounds to believe Harkat is a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network after coming to Canada.

Federal lawyer David Tyndale repeatedly cited Noel's findings as justification for vigilance concerning Harkat.

Lives under specific conditions

Harkat was released from custody in June 2006 under stringent conditions that have since been loosened to a degree.

He now lives at home with his wife, Sophie, and has access to a computer connected to the internet at their residence. He has to report in person to the Canada Border Services Agency every two weeks.

Although Harkat can travel within Canada, he must provide the border agency with five days' notice of his plans as well as a full itinerary when leaving the national capital region. He also has to report to the border agency by phone once a day while travelling.

Border services officers have followed the couple on trips to a cottage and to the funeral of Sophie's grandmother.

Wants level of supervision reassessed

Barb Jackman, Harkat's lawyer, objected to the level of scrutiny and said there was nothing to indicate Harkat poses an actual danger.

"I think there's got to be some evidence of a threat to the security of Canada," she said during Friday's hearing.

"Over time, we have to look at things again, in an objective way."

Roussel asked Tyndale if there was a way to avoid intrusive surveillance of family outings, or if there were no exceptions to the monitoring routine.

Tyndale suggested that tracking Harkat to the out-of-town funeral was not beyond the scope of the border agency's duties.

When someone is flagged by a security certificate as inadmissible to Canada, "some upsetting things are going to happen in your life," he added.

Officials willing to allow some concessions

Harkat wants permission to have a laptop computer and tablet with internet connectivity for use outside the home, including for work purposes. He wishes to report to the border agency monthly by phone, through voice verification. And he wants restrictions on his travel lifted, with the exception that he remain in Canada.

Authorities are willing to allow Harkat to travel anywhere in Ontario or Quebec for up to 24 hours without notifying the border agency, and agree to him reporting in person once a month.

But they oppose the idea of Harkat having general internet access outside the home, saying it would hinder their ability to keep tabs on his communications. They say requests to use communications technology for work purposes should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Copyright © 2017 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. "The Huffington Post" is a registered trademark of TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. All rights reserved.


Mohamed Harkat seeks relaxation of strict monitoring

posted on November 16, 2017 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill
Source: The Canadian Press via CBC News
URL: [link]
Date: November 16, 2017

Security detainee wants more freedom to use the internet and travel within Canada

Federal authorities are balking at terror suspect Mohamed Harkat's desire for more leeway to use the internet and travel freely within Canada, saying he continues to pose a threat almost 15 years after being arrested.

Harkat is asking the Federal Court of Canada to approve his application for less strict monitoring of his everyday activities by the Canada Border Services Agency as he awaits the outcome of his protracted legal saga.

A two-day court hearing begins today to determine whether current restrictions on the Algerian refugee will be eased.

Harkat, 49, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

The federal government is trying to deport the former pizza-delivery man to Algeria using a national security certificate — a legal tool for removing non-citizens suspected of ties to extremism or espionage. Harkat fears he will be imprisoned and tortured if returned to his homeland.

Related

Mohamed Harkat certain he'll be killed if deported to Algeria
Ban Trudeau from Harkat deportation over brother's letter, says democracy group

Following his arrest, Harkat was locked up for more than three years. He was released in June 2006 under stringent conditions that have since been relaxed somewhat.

Harkat now lives at home with wife Sophie. He has access to a computer connected to the internet at his residence. He has to report in person to the border services agency every two weeks. And though Harkat can travel within Canada, he must provide the border agency with five days' notice of his plans as well as a full itinerary when leaving the national capital. He also has to report to the border agency by phone once a day while travelling.

Harkat says he's not a threat

Harkat's submission to the court argues he "presents no threat to Canada or to any person" and that he has diligently complied with conditions for more than a decade. "A continuation of these conditions is not justified."

The couple says the restrictions now in place have caused great stress and hardship, even preventing them from having children.

Harkat wants permission to have a mobile phone, laptop computer and tablet with internet connectivity for use outside the home. He wishes to report to the border agency monthly by phone, through voice verification. And he wants restrictions on his travel lifted, with the exception that he remain in Canada.

Authorities are willing to allow Harkat to travel anywhere in Ontario or Quebec for up to 24 hours without notifying the border agency, and agree to him reporting in person once a month.

But they oppose the idea of Harkat having internet access outside the home, saying it would undermine their ability to keep tabs on his communications.

In a submission to the court, the ministers of public safety and immigration say an October 2016 assessment by the border services agency concluded that any risks are neutralized by Harkat's compliance with the existing terms and conditions.

"The fact that there is no new information linking Mr. Harkat to threat-related information activities does not warrant the variations he is requesting," the federal submission says. "The Ministers have not changed their position that Mr. Harkat remains a threat."

Trudeau's brother has written on Harkat's behalf

Federal Court Justice Simon Noel ruled in 2010 that there were grounds to believe Harkat is a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network after coming to Canada.

Civil libertarians have long criticized the security certificate process as fundamentally unjust because the detainee sees only a summary of the accusations, making it difficult to challenge them.

In a 2014 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada said the security certificate regime does not violate the person's right to know and contest the allegations they face. However, the high court provided detailed guidance on applying the process to ensure it is fair.

The Supreme Court also concluded Harkat "benefited from a fair process" when Noel reviewed his case.

Harkat's file continues to grind along.

The border agency is in the process of seeking a "danger opinion" as a step toward deportation.

A delegate of the immigration minister will determine whether Harkat poses a danger to national security and, if so, whether the risk to Harkat of removing him outweighs the danger or severity of the acts he allegedly committed.

Many supporters, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's brother, Alexandre, have written to the government on Harkat's behalf over the years.

© The Canadian Press, 2017


Supreme Court of Ireland blocks State from deporting Algerian man linked to terrorism

posted on August 03, 2017 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: The Journal
URL: [link]
Date: July 26, 2017


THE SUPREME COURT has ruled that the Minister for Justice must reconsider a decision to remove an Algerian man with alleged links to Islamic terrorism against his removal from the State.

The State claimed the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is involved with Islamic terrorism and was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France.

The Minister issued a deportation order 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 living in Ireland for several years, denies being involved in terrorism and claims that if deported to Algeria he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.

The man, represented by Michael Lynn SC and David Leonard Bl, appealed a High Court order which found the Minister’s decision that there were no substantial grounds to find that the man would be at real risk of ill-treatment if deported to his home country was lawful.
The State opposed the appeal.

In its judgment today, five judges at the Supreme Court unanimously quashed the Minister for Justice’s refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in December last year.

The court remitted the man’s case back to the Minister for further reconsideration.

Giving the court’s decision, Justice Donal O Donnell said in this case there was “no reasonable basis” upon which any Minister could conclude there was no real risk of a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – that nobody should be treated to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

The judge said he found it difficult to understand precisely how the Minister arrived at the conclusions in respect of the man that he was not at risk of being treated contrary to Article 3.

The judge said it was not sufficiently clear why the Minister came to the conclusion that the man could be deported to Algeria without a real risk of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment and why the Minister considered such a decision ought not to be revoked.

The judge said he had come to the conclusion he “could not have the level of assurance necessary that the decision sets out a clear reasoned path and one that was not flawed or incorrectly unjustifiable limitations or irrelevant legal considerations”.
The Minister’s finding was in contrast to an earlier finding by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal that considered the man’s application for protection that he was at risk if deported to Algeria.

To depart from such a finding required clear reasons, he said.

The judge said the revocation application is to go back to the Minister and should be addressed by focused submissions, including up-to-
date information concerning Algeria.

There was no reason why the fresh consideration should not occur promptly, the judge said. Submissions, he said, should be focused on the issue whether there is a real risk on substantial grounds of the man being treated contrary to Article 3.

If the man only submits a generalised complaint with no attempt to focus submissions on his personal situation and the up-to-date position in Algeria, then he will find it difficult to complain about a decision which treats the issue at the same level of generality, the judge added.

Once the matter has been reconsidered by the Minister any outstanding issues in relation to the case should go back before the High Court, the judge added.

The Chief Justice Susan Denham, Justice John MacMenamin, Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Justice Iseult O’Malley all concurred with the decision.

Speaking after the judgment the man’s solicitor Gavin Booth of KRW Law welcomed the court’s decision.
He said that “it was always our case that the Minister could not deport this man without breaching Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The man denies involvement in terrorism and rejects claims he is involved in groups such as Al-Qaeda. He has been in custody for some months and will remain in detention pending the outcome of the process.

During the 1990s, he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences, which are no longer carried out.

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 also convicted and jailed for eight years following his arrested in France in 2002.

A French court found him guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an Act of Terrorism.

Content copyright © Journal Media Ltd. 2017


OSCE/ODIHR Director Link calls on participating States to strictly observe prohibition of torture or other ill-treatment of returned individuals

posted on June 29, 2017 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Press Release
Source: Relief Web
URL: [link]
Date: June 26, 2017


WARSAW, 26 June 2017 – On the occasion of today’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on all OSCE participating States to ensure that no one is exposed to the risk of torture, including by ensuring that the states’ actions do not put people at risk of being tortured in other countries.

“States are prohibited from exposing anyone to a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment in another country, without exception,” the ODIHR Director said. “The principle of non-refoulement requires states to ensure their actions do not lead to torture or other ill-treatment anywhere in the world – including as a result of turning away refugees, asylum-seekers, political dissidents, criminal suspects, or anyone else who could face the risk of such treatment.”

Under international human rights treaties reaffirmed in OSCE commitments, countries are absolutely prohibited from returning individuals who risk being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment as a result of their expulsion, extradition or other forms of refoulement to another State. The principle is applicable in all circumstances, including armed conflicts, states of emergency and refugee contexts.

“Before expelling or denying entry to anyone, OSCE participating States must determine whether the individual could face torture or other ill-treatment if returned to another state,” said Director Link. “They must take into account all relevant considerations, such as the existence in the states concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights, including of persecution based on prohibited grounds of discrimination.”

Illustrating the genuine risks faced by individuals subject to expulsion by OSCE participating States, national and international courts have issued hundreds of binding stays on removal orders in OSCE participating States from 2014 to 2016, in order to prevent the expulsion of people to countries where they may face torture or other serious human rights violations. Such interim measures have been applied to prevent the return of asylum seekers and other individuals to situations of potential torture or other ill-treatment, including due to persecution on the basis of their religious beliefs, sexual orientations, political opinions and other prohibited grounds.

Director Link also noted that, under the principle of non-refoulement, the procurement of so-called “diplomatic assurances” cannot be used by states to escape the prohibition on returning individuals to a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/odihr/325346


Fatally Flawed Anti-Torture Assurances

posted on June 14, 2017 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jonathan Horowitz
Source: Just Security Website
URL: [link]
Date: June 13, 2017


After September 11, the United States and other countries heavily relied on diplomatic assurances as counterterrorism tools to legally justify transferring people to other states where they were likely to be tortured. These assurances were based on the state receiving a detainee promising that it would treat the transferred person in accordance with certain human rights standards. Sometimes, but not often, a receiving state would also commit to allowing the sending state to check-in on the detainee every now and again. This was often referred to as “post-transfer detainee monitoring.”

Today, this issue has taken a back seat to Trump’s embrace of direct torture. But it’s important to keep a close eye on if, when, and how the Trump administration uses diplomatic assurances. This is especially true because unlike U.S. torture practices, diplomatic assurances haven’t come anywhere close to receiving the same degree of scrutiny and disapproval.

In April, a pitched battled emerged among states, U.N. agencies and human rights groups during a public discussion hosted by the U.N. Committee against Torture on whether governments should be allowed to ever use diplomatic assurances and, if so, under what conditions. Prior to the event, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States submitted a joint statement supporting the use of diplomatic assurances, pointing out that states have used assurances to promote respect for the prohibition against torture. They emphatically disagreed with an assertion that the Committee had made that diplomatic assurances were inherently “contrary” to the principle of non-refoulement, which is the legal term that bars a state from transferring someone to the control of another state where there are substantial grounds for believing there’s a real risk the person will be tortured. At the Committee’s public session numerous other states chimed in to add support to this position.

But states were not proposing carte blanche use. They emphasized that it was unacceptable for states to use assurances to escape their transfer obligations and, to guard against this, they defended their right to use diplomatic assurances if the commitments met strict criteria, such as being “credible and reliable, explicit and specific, and binding upon the institutions of the State.”

Compared to the more absolutist position of many human rights experts and groups—which is that diplomatic assurances are inherently contrary to the torture prohibition, especially when entered into with a state where there are substantial grounds to believe the person being transferred is at real risk of torture—states appeared at first blush to be conceding a reasonable middle ground, as if to say: Yes, states have wrongly used diplomatic assurances to circumvent their transfer obligations under international law, but diplomatic assurances can also effectively reduce the risk of torture under the right circumstances.

Unfortunately, this devotion to what appears to be a pragmatic approach misses the danger that the states’ unified position poses to the prohibition against torture.

Many of the human rights experts that have entered into this debate have studied the inherent flaws in diplomatic assurances, observed the ways sending states have misappropriated them, and witnessed receiving states failing to uphold them. A perspective steeped in these realities makes their positons against diplomatic assurances ones that are anchored in a pragmatism that far exceeds states’ aspirational assertions that diplomatic assurances can work when they are based on some intricate set of criteria.

Knowing these realities, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reiterated to the Committee that diplomatic assurances were not adequate safeguards for deterring transfer abuses. Several human rights organizations took the position before the Committee that assurances were contrary to the principle of non-refoulement. Other positions also exist, even if they weren’t provided directly to the Committee.

My own views on this issue come largely from the time I spent in 2011 working at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, where I was responsible for crafting and implementing the terms of a U.S. diplomatic assurance with the Islamic Government of Afghanistan. At that time I was agnostic as to whether diplomatic assurances were contrary to the prohibition against torture. I should not have been. My general view has since hardened into believing that they are, in fact, inherently contrary to the goal of respecting the prohibition against torture. This is mainly for four reasons, in no particular order:

Permanent nature of the violation versus the unstable nature of assurances: Diplomatic assurances are often based on bilateral government relations that are inherently unstable. While a diplomatic assurance may seem strong today, tomorrow could bring a different story. The ambassadors and ministers that often enter into these assurances can get replaced or they can lose their authority to officials who aren’t as committed to the assurances. Political winds and alliances can also shift, leading to a receiving state lashing out politically by ignoring the assurances or turning back on their post-transfer monitoring commitments. When the relationships upon which these assurances are built loosen or break, and the diplomatic assurance is breached, there are very limited ways for a sending state to remedy the situation. As I’ve written elsewhere, an “inescapable problem is that once a transfer takes place and the monitoring system does not effectively deter mistreatment then the sending State can at best cease future transfers but it can do very little for the actual victim(s).” All in all, the unstable nature of diplomatic assurances significantly outweighs their prospect for successfully mitigating the risk of torture and other serious human rights violations.

Lack of the receiving state’s compliance: I’m also unconvinced that a bilateral anti-torture commitment, even when it is legally binding, will change the practices of a government that has been willing to breach its international and domestic law torture prohibition obligations. Human rights groups have seen states purposefully evade or behave in ways that significantly hamper the effectiveness of these assurances as well as their monitoring mechanisms, which largely accounts for the concerns raised by a notable independent U.N. anti-torture expert. In Afghanistan, coalition forces first ceased transferring their detainees to a number of Afghan facilities due to concerns of torture, then started transferring them again after those concerns subsided, but then had to re-suspend their transfers when new torture concerns emerged. Some ISAF countries that engaged in post-transfer detainee monitoring also faced considerable frustrations when, for example, Afghan authorities moved detainees to different facilities without informing the sending states. This resulted in an almost trial-by-error process that left people at risk of torture while sending states revised, and revised again, their diplomatic assurance criteria and the way they implement that criteria.

Lack of respect for the prohibition: But what if a receiving state that has a reputation for torture does respect the terms of the diplomatic assurance? Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States claimed before the Committee that such a success would promote respect for the prohibition against torture. My experience is that it sends a different message: It’s okay for a receiving state to torture some, but not others. This imbalance arose in Afghanistan, where detainees held under a diplomatic assurance reported being treated better than detainees in the same cell or facility who were not held under a diplomatic assurance. A man who alleged to have been tortured in Afghan custody and held with other detainees covered by Canada’s diplomatic assurance told the United Nations: “Except those arrested by Canadians, every single person arrested by NDS [Afghanistan’s intelligence service] officials has to go through the similar experience I went through.” When this sort of differentiation happens, diplomatic assurances can’t comport with the Convention’s goal and purpose of applying the prohibition against torture to all equally. At worst, they can result in the opposite.

Risk assessment avoidance: Finally, states have an obligation to individually assess whether there are substantial grounds to believe that each person it transfers will face a real risk of torture or other serious human rights abuses. Diplomatic assurances often paper over that obligation, such as when sending states automatically accept that a risk of torture exists without learning why different people being sent to different places may experience different risks for different reasons. Diplomatic assurances, when used in this way, are a low-resource and easy way for states to avoid an important procedural obligation that should allow a person to explain the precise reasons why they fear being transferred. At the extreme, states have applied diplomatic assurances collectively to entire groups of people. Jason Leopold recently posted a Department of Defense Inspector General report that described how the United States did not obtain individual assurances for detainees being transferred in Iraq or from ISAF in Afghanistan.

The lesson I take away from these reflections is that the United States essentially got it backwards in Afghanistan. First they sent detainees to Afghan facilities based on a transfer arrangement. Only then did they monitor Afghan detention facilities where torture was taking place to ensure the arrangement was being respected. The United States should have done it the other way around: First they should have monitored the detention system and conducted individualized refoulement risk assessments. Only then, if there were no concerns, should transfers have taken place.

Jonathan Horowitz is Legal Officer, National Security and Counterterrorism Program, at the Open Society Justice Initiative. Follow him on Twitter @J_T_Horowitz

© 2017 Just Security.


Open Letter to Minister Goodale: Reject Information Obtained Through Torture

posted on April 12, 2017 | in Category Canada | PermaLink

Source: International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG)
URL: [link]
Date: April 12, 2017



The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8

January 30, 2017

Dear Minister Goodale,

We are writing to you about the urgent need for Canada to revise the Ministerial Directives on torture issued by the previous government to conform to the unconditional ban on torture in international law.

Doing so now would send an important signal to Canadians and to the international community that Canada will under no circumstances use information from a foreign country that was likely obtained under torture, or share information that could likely lead to an individual being tortured.

As you know, in 2011 the government introduced a ministerial directive that allows, under exceptional circumstances, for information garnered under torture by a foreign country to be transmitted to and used by Canadian security agencies. The same directive also provided guidelines for instances when Canadian agencies could share information with countries that are know to engage in human rights abuses, even if doing so would likely result in torture.

One year ago, you committed to reviewing these directives. We hope that, after consideration, you are now prepared to make revisions that will ensure compliance with Canada's binding international obligation to oppose torture in all instances, without exception. Doing so would be consistent with recent steps taken by the government to strengthen Canada's efforts to combat and eradicate torture by initiating steps towards accession to the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

A decade ago, the public inquiry into the case of Maher Arar clearly documented that irresponsible sharing of intelligence information from and to Canada can and does result in torture. Notably Commissioner Dennis O'Connor made an explicit recommendation that intelligence information should never be shared by Canadian agencies if it is likely to lead to torture. The Ministerial Directives explicitly run counter to those recommendations. Notably the 2008 report from the Iacobucci Commission that examined the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin similarly documented the grave risk of sharing intelligence without regard for the risk of torture.

Beyond these important national level findings and recommendations we also draw your attention to the fact that the UN's pre-eminent body responsible for overseeing the obligation of states to end torture, the UN's Committee against Torture, has also raised concern. In its 2012 review of Canada's record, the Committee called on Canada to amend the Ministerial Directives to ensure conformity with international obligations.

The international context makes Canada's actions all the more urgent. This week, the New York Times reported the United States administration is considering a review of its use of CIA black sites. The same day, US President Donald Trump told ABC News that he is open to the return of torture during interrogations, saying he believes "torture works." Both these revelations raise troubling questions about the very real risk that intelligence sharing between our two countries may again become tainted by concerns about torture.

We believe that Canadians deserve clarity, and that the best way to do so would be to revise the Ministerial Directives so as to fully conform with international law and to pass legislation that creates a clear prohibition on sharing information likely to be derived from, or at risk of leading to, torture.

Sincerely,

Amnesty International Canada
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Muslim Lawyer Association
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Ligue des droits et libertés
National Council of Canadian Muslims
Open Media

Link to the open letter


Blood on our hands: Canada's links to torture

posted on December 11, 2016 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Tim McSorley
Source: iPolitics
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2016


Saturday, December 10, is Human Rights Day. It’s also the anniversary of an ongoing stain on Canada’s human rights record.

Fourteen years ago, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested outside his home under a government security certificate on allegations of having ties to terrorism. Despite never being charged, and never being shown the evidence against him, Harkat has faced solitary confinement, the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history and lives under the constant threat of deportation to Algeria — where he would certainly be imprisoned and likely tortured.

We like to believe that Canada stands above torture. And while the practice is banned in Canada, our international human rights obligations means that we must oppose torture everywhere. That includes never deporting someone to a situation where they could face torture.

Sadly, Canada has a history of complicity in sending Canadians to torture abroad: The U.S. government whisked Maher Arar away to Jordan, and then Syria, where he was tortured. Canadian officials were complicit in his rendition and turned a blind eye to his torture. In 2007, after the two year O’Connor Inquiry, he received an official apology from the Canadian government, plus a $10.5 million settlement and $1 million in legal fees.

While no apology or settlement can undo the horrors of torture, other Canadians haven’t even received that much. A follow-up to the O’Connor Inquiry, the Iacobucci Inquiry, found that Canadian agents and officials played an indirect role in the arrest and torture of three other Canadians: Ahmad El Maati in Egypt, and Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria. This included problematic sharing of information with foreign spy agencies, providing insufficient consular support, and officials ignoring allegations of torture.

The inquiry ended in 2008, and yet no compensation or redress has been offered. This, despite a 2009 majority vote in the House — including Justin Trudeau and Liberal MPs — in favour of a Public Safety Committee report calling for an apology, redress and full adoption of the recommendations of the O’Connor Inquiry, including the creation of an integrated and independent review body for national security.

Sadly, we’ve seen the opposite of redress: The former Conservative government and the current Liberal government have fought hard against a $100 million lawsuit brought by the three men for redress for the abuse they faced. In fact, the Liberals have doubled down, arguing in court that a 2014 law brought in by the Conservatives to protect intelligence sources should apply retroactively, in a bid to stop key testimony.

When the prime minister says Canada is “back” and promises to fight for equality and human rights, a fundamental first step should be apologizing, providing redress and eliminating all complicity in torture.

We have a golden opportunity to make things right: The government is currently holding public, country-wide consultations on our national security framework. Prime Minister Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale could help set the tone for what is to come by stating right away that they will take some fundamental steps:

* Ensuring no person is deported if there is a risk of torture, starting with the end of deportation proceedings against Mr. Harkat.

* Committing to redress and apologies for all victims of torture in which Canada is complicit, starting with Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nureddin.

* Withdrawing ministerial directives – still on the books – which allow Canada to accept intelligence that may have been garnered under torture, in violation of our international commitments.

* Eliminating the security certificate system, which allows for detention without charges or access to the evidence being used to bring the certificate.

* Repealing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 (Bill C-51), which brought in a tangled mess of laws that open the door wide for the types of violations that led to the torture of Mr. Arar, Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nurredin.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on Human Rights Day 2017, we could finally say that Canada has cut all ties to torture?

Tim McSorley is the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.


December 10th Is International Human Rights Days

posted on December 10, 2016 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink



Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. It is also the 14th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat's arrest on a security certificate.



At yesterday's press conference in Ottawa Amnesty International Canada secretary-general Alex Neve teamed up with International Civil Liberties Monitor Group national coordinator Tim McSorley and activists Sophie Harkat and Chantal Sunaram to mark International Human Rights Day, as well as the 14th anniversary of the security certificate-driven arrest of Mohamed Harkat.

How can Canada condone torture?

posted on December 04, 2016 | in Category Canada | PermaLink

by Gerald Caplan
Source: The Globe and Mail
URL: [link]
Date: November 24, 2016


Gerald Caplan is an Africa scholar, a former NDP national director and a regular panelist on CBC’s Power & Politics

Canada ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1987, yet a good number of Canadians have been tortured with the complicity of public officials. To be more precise: Torture – physical, psychological or both – has been inflicted by our prisons and our security and intelligence services on many Canadians – a disproportionate number of them indigenous or people with a Middle Eastern background – as well as on foreign citizens.

When examples of such incidents are exposed, Canadians are outraged. But only rarely are they revealed.

For example, as we’ve been shocked to learn recently, solitary confinement in our prisons seems to be as Canadian as maple syrup, even though the United Nations says solitary lasting more than 15 days amounts to torture. The Toronto Star recently reported that over the course of five months last year, more than 1,600 inmates suffered solitary confinement at two Ontario jails. Many were indigenous people.

The Globe and Mail has written extensively about Adam Capay, the young indigenous man kept in solitary for more than 1,500 days – more than four years. Ontario government officials knew but did nothing until they were publicly exposed. The Ontario Human Rights Commission says there is an “alarming and systemic overuse of segregation” in Ontario jails.

No one has been held accountable.

Nor must we forget that during Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan, Afghan prisoners were often turned over by Canadian troops to U.S. and Afghan authorities. It was widely known that torture would be the fate of most of them. Despite pressure, Canadian governments, including this one, have refused to hold an inquiry.

No one has been held accountable.

Then there are those mystifying “security certificates,” a troubling tool that allows Ottawa to deport non-citizens it deems a threat to national security. The following Muslim men have been arrested under security certificates: Hassan Almrei, Adil Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat, Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub. None was charged, but all were imprisoned for between four and seven years as they awaited deportation. All but one suffered solitary.

No one has been held accountable.

Many will have seen the deeply disturbing documentary The Torture Files by Terence McKenna that ran over three nights on CBC-TV in September. It names both the victims and at least two of the Canadian officials complicit in their torture in Syria. The victims are men of Middle Eastern heritage but with no links to any form of terrorism. They include the following individuals: Abousfian Abdelrazik, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Arwad al-Boushi and Muayyed Nureddin. We can add Omar Khadr, who was psychologically tortured at Guantanamo Bay by both U.S. and Canadian officials.

The Canadians who were instrumental in the suffering of the other men were also named in two separate federal inquiries. One was Franco Pillarella, then Canada’s ambassador to Syria. False information was given to U.S. officials about Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, by Canadian officials, even though he was innocent of any crime. The Americans duly passed him on to Syria – to be tortured like all the others. Mr. Arar was jailed in what he described as a “grave” – six feet long, three feet wide, seven feet high – for 10 months. It was like being buried alive. He was also tortured repeatedly.

Incredibly, as is well documented, Mr. Pillarella actually co-operated with the Syrian torturers, supplying them with questions to be asked of three Canadians. He kept being appointed to new diplomatic posts until he resigned.

A second Canadian is featured in the McKenna documentary, a Mountie named Michel Cabana. Mr. Cabana passed on false information that led to Mr. Almalki being detained when he visited Damascus. His cell was described by Amnesty International as being similar to Arar’s. He was “subjected to a vicious cycle of torture. He was beaten with an electric cable, strung up to the bars of a window and lashed with leather belts.”

Two commissions of inquiry concluded that Mr. Almalki, Mr. Elmaati, Mr. Nureddin and Mr. Arar were all wrongfully targeted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP.

Cabana was promoted to RCMP assistant commissioner, a position he holds to this day.

U.S. President Barack Obama banned the CIA’s widely used torture techniques in 2009, but president-elect Donald Trump, who embraces the use of torture with much enthusiasm, could easily reverse that order. In Canada, the previous government had told CSIS that it could use information derived through torture. The Liberal opposition was outraged.

As well, the Conservative government’s anti-terrorist Bill C-51 was interpreted as opening the door to CSIS to use torture in its work, even though information thus acquired is notoriously unreliable. The Liberals were outraged.

Yet the new, Liberal government is still “assessing” the issue, even though Canada has agreed to sign the UN’s optional protocol to the Convention against Torture allowing for the inspection of detention centres, where torture often takes place in secrecy.

A number of heroic Canadians have dedicated themselves to ending the use of torture by Canada. They include, among others, Matthew Behrens, Monia Mazigh, Amar Wala, Barbara Jackman, Roch Tassé and his International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

Why should their efforts be needed at all? Torture is both immoral and useless as a tool to fight terrorism. It outrages Canadians. How can our governments condone it for even one more day?

Copyright 2016 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Torture can never be justified

posted on November 09, 2016 | in Category War on Terror | PermaLink


Torture can never be justified. Learn about the International Convention Against Torture:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx



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