Migration policies can amount to ill-treatment and torture, UN rights expert warns

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

by UN Human Rights Council
Source: ReliefWeb
URL: [link]
Date: March 1, 2018

GENEVA (1 March 2018) – Increasingly obstructive laws, policies and practices have pushed migrants towards irregular pathways and methods marked by an escalating prevalence of torture and ill-treatment, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Mr. Melzer said some policies and practices used by States to deter, prevent or address the arrival of migrants could themselves amount to torture or ill-treatment.

“States are increasingly depriving people of their liberty as a routine or even mandatory response to irregular migration,” the expert said.

“However, the systematic and open-ended detention of people simply because they are migrants has nothing to do with legitimate border protection but amounts to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

“Such detention can even amount to torture, especially when it is intentionally used to deter, intimidate or punish migrants or their families, to extort money or sexual acts, or to coerce people into withdrawing asylum requests, accepting voluntary repatriation, giving information or providing fingerprints.

“The longer a situation of arbitrary detention lasts, the more intense the mental and emotional suffering will become, and the higher the likelihood that the ban on torture or ill-treatment has been breached,” he added.

The Special Rapporteur’s full report makes a number of recommendations for how States can address irregular migration while complying fully with their international human rights obligations.

“States should enable migrants to claim international protection and to individually challenge any decision as to their detention, treatment or deportation before a competent judicial or administrative body,” he said.

The expert also urged States to stop basing their migration policies on deterrence, criminalization and discrimination..

“The only way to end the horrendous suffering caused by migrant trafficking, abusive smuggling and arbitrary detention is to provide migrants with safe and regular migration pathways, and to ensure the effective protection of their human rights not only in theory, but also in practice,” Mr. Melzer stressed.

“I hope my report will assist States in ending one of the greatest tragedies of our time: the widespread and systematic contempt for the human dignity and integrity of millions of people who have lost or given up everything in search of protection or a better life,” he told the Council.

Mr. Melzer said some newly introduced practices suggested a deliberate erosion of the principle of non-refoulement, which protects anyone from being deported to countries where they risk to face torture or ill-treatment.

"No migrant can lawfully be deported without an individualized risk assessment", he stressed, "including through international agreements, diplomatic assurances, border closures or so-called “pushback” or "pullback" operations, by which migrants are forcibly prevented from crossing international borders.

The Special Rapporteur said that where no safe and regular pathways are available, migrants increasingly use smuggler networks, many of which allegedly operate in collusion with border officials. Migrants are also at great risk of falling victim to human trafficking during their journeys, he added.

Whenever States failed to exercise due diligence to protect migrants, punish perpetrators or provide remedies, they risk to become complicit in torture or ill-treatment, he said.

“Moreover, State officials or private citizens must be aware that their personal involvement in shaping, promoting and implementing policies and practices which expose migrants to torture or ill-treatment may amount to complicity or other participation in crimes against humanity or war crimes,” he added.

Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2016. Mr. Melzer has previously worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and is currently the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, and Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
Ms. Alia El Khatib (+41 22 917 9209 / [email]), or write to [email]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / [email])

Judge loosens some of terror suspect Mohamed Harkat’s release conditions

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill
Source: The Globe & Mail
URL: [link]
Date: January 24, 2018

[PHOTO: Security certificate detainee Mohamed Harkat arrives at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, on Nov. 16, 2017.]

A judge has granted terror suspect Mohamed Harkat more freedom – though not as much as he asked for.

In a judgment made public Wednesday, Federal Court Justice Sylvie Roussel gave Harkat permission to travel anywhere in Ontario or Quebec for 72 hours without notifying authorities.

The Algerian refugee – who faces deportation on national security grounds – can also report to officials in person just once a month, not every two weeks.

Roussel denied Harkat permission to have a laptop computer with internet capability for personal use outside his home. But she opened the door to the possibility of internet access for employment purposes.

Overall, the judge found the existing release conditions were "disproportionate with the danger posed by Mr. Harkat" and that they should be relaxed.

Harkat's wife, Sophie, expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying the hurdles set out for internet use at work could scare prospective employers away.

At a two-day hearing in November, Harkat asked the court to impose less strict monitoring of his everyday activities by the Canada Border Services Agency as he awaits the outcome of his extended legal saga.

Harkat, 49, was arrested in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. He denies any involvement in terrorism.

The federal government is trying to deport the former gas-station attendant using a national security certificate – a legal tool for removing non-citizens suspected of ties to extremism or espionage. Harkat fears he will be tortured if returned to his Algerian homeland.

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

At home with Sophie, Harkat has access to a computer connected to the internet. Prior to Wednesday's ruling, he was required to report in person to the border agency every two weeks. And, though Harkat could travel within Canada, he had to provide the border agency with five days' notice of his plans as well as a full itinerary when leaving the national capital. He also had to report to the border agency by phone once a day while travelling.

Harkat's submission to the court said he "presents no threat to Canada or to any person" and that he has diligently complied with requirements. "A continuation of these conditions is not justified."

The couple said the restrictions had caused great stress and hardship.

Harkat works part-time as a church custodian. But Sophie testified the limitations on computer use have denied her husband opportunities to be a retail cashier or parcel courier.

Roussel said if Harkat is to fully embrace the values of his adopted country, it is "important that he be given the opportunity to obtain gainful employment."

She instructed Harkat and the border agency to discuss the sort of internet-linked devices he could use at work. The agency would approve or reject specific proposals, with the court having final say in a disagreement. Harkat's employer would be obliged to report any unauthorized internet use to the agency.

Sophie Harkat said Wednesday the conditions mean her husband "will continue to be dehumanized around his employers," adding the couple could be forced into further costly court proceedings.

Roussel said she didn't have sufficient evidence of Harkat's need for personal internet use outside the home.

She also turned down Harkat's request that he be allowed to travel anywhere in Canada without restriction.

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

Roussel expressed concern about the "degree of intrusiveness" of the border agency's physical surveillance, saying there should be better guidance on when and how it is done.

Meanwhile, 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.

© Copyright 2018 The Globe and Mail Inc. All rights reserved.

Les conditions de libération de Mohamed Harkat sont assouplies, mais pas suffisamment à son goût

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Angie Bonenfant
Source: Radio-Canada
URL: [link]
Date: 24 janvier 2018

Les conditions de libération de Mohamed Harkat, soupçonné de terrorisme, sont partiellement assouplies. La Cour fédérale du Canada a levé certaines restrictions concernant la surveillance dont il fait l'objet, mais a rejeté sa demande de pouvoir se déplacer sans restriction au Canada.

Un texte d'Angie Bonenfant

Mohamed Harkat, 49 ans, fait l'objet d'un certificat de sécurité depuis 2002. Il est soupçonné d'être un agent dormant du réseau terroriste Al-Quaïda.

Il est soumis à une surveillance étroite de l'Agence des services frontaliers du Canada (ASFC). Il doit, entre autres, se rapporter aux agents du ministère toutes les deux semaines.

M. Harkat demandait à la cour de lui accorder une liberté de déplacement totale au Canada sans devoir avertir l'AFSC. Il souhaitait également se rapporter aux agents seulement une fois par mois, par téléphone.

Dans un jugement de 55 pages, obtenu par Radio-Canada, la cour fédérale a rejeté la demande de Mohamed Harkat de se déplacer partout au Canada sans restriction. Cependant, elle lui a permis de voyager n'importe où au Québec et en Ontario pour une période de 72 heures sans devoir avertir les autorités.

La cour lui accorde également la permission de se rapporter une fois par mois à l'AFSC, mais il devra le faire en personne.

En plus d'une liberté complète de déplacement au Canada, M. Harkat qui réside dans la région de l'Outaouais demandait un accès plus large à l'internet.

Présentement, M. Harkat a la permission d'utiliser à la maison un ordinateur ayant accès à internet, mais il aurait également voulu utiliser un ordinateur portable ou une tablette à l'extérieur de sa résidence.

Sa demande a été rejetée. Toutefois, la cour serait encline à lui permettre l'utilisation d'une tablette ou d'un ordinateur portable en dehors de sa maison pour des motifs d'employabilité.

Une déception

L'épouse de Mohamed Harkat, Sophie, s'est dite très déçue du jugement.

« Au fil des années, mon mari a eu un comportement exemplaire. Le gouvernent n'a présenté aucune preuve prouvant la nécessité des conditions qui sont encore en place », a-t-elle déploré. « C'est une déception, mais nous n'avons pas le choix de vivre avec ça jusqu'à notre prochaine évaluation. »

Même si la juge a assoupli certaines conditions de libération, son mari aura toujours de la difficulté à se trouver un bon emploi, plaide-t-elle. Elle aurait aimé, au moins, qu'il puisse utiliser un portable à l'extérieur de la maison.

« C'est possible pour lui de se trouver un emploi même s'il n'a pas accès à un téléphone cellulaire et à l'internet, mais ça le limite énormément et ça le limite au niveau du salaire aussi », soutient-elle.

M. Harkat a été arrêté en 2002 à Ottawa.

Depuis, le gouvernement canadien cherche à le renvoyer dans son pays d'origine, l'Algérie. Les autorités croient qu'il représente une menace à la sécurité nationale.

M. Harkat nie être un agent terroriste et prétend qu'il sera torturé s'il est déporté en Algérie.

Mohamed Harkat, quelques dates clés

2002- Mohammed Harkat est arrêté le 10 décembre, à Ottawa, en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité. Les autorités canadiennes le soupçonnent d'être un agent dormant du réseau terroriste al-Qaïda.

2006- Mohammed Harkat, qui est en détention depuis son arrestation, est remis en liberté sous des conditions très strictes. Il doit porter un bracelet qui surveille tous ses déplacements 24 heures sur 24.

2010- En Cour fédérale, Mohammed Harkat remet en question la validité du certificat dont il fait l'objet. Toutefois, le 9 décembre, la cour juge que le gouvernement a de bonnes raisons de croire qu'il est une menace pour la sécurité nationale et confirme la validité du certificat.

2013- Après l'avoir porté pendant sept ans, Mohammed Harkat se fait retirer son bracelet GPS. Le 7 juillet, la Cour fédérale considère que le danger initial associé au résident d'Ottawa est assez faible pour lui accorder cette faveur. Le certificat de sécurité est maintenu.

2017- Mohammed Harkat souhaite qu'on assouplisse ses conditions de détention. Il aimerait, en autres, avoir une liberté de mouvement totale au Canada et un accès plus large à l'internet. La Cour fédérale refuse sa demande.

Tous droits réservés © Société Radio-Canada 2018.

CSIS and the RCMP accused of neglecting far-right threat

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
URL: [link]
Date: October 12, 2017

This is the fourth chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.

At around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29, at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on the outskirts of Quebec City, the mosque’s parking lot was filling up for evening prayers. The centre is housed in a modern glass and steel office building, located on the corner of a busy thoroughfare.

At 7:50, a commotion was heard outside one of the entrances to the prayer room. There, two distant cousins, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry, were the first to be shot by a gunman, who then walked inside the room and continued his killing spree. It was all over in a few minutes - with six men dead and 19 wounded.

The suspect arrested was 27-year-old Université Laval student Alexandre Bissonnette, who is alleged to have been influenced by far-right and perhaps alt-right ideas.

In the minds of some, this deadly attack raised a question: while CSIS and the RCMP have spent years and vast sums spying on (and often harassing) Muslims, environmentalists, Indigenous and social justice activists, have they been overlooking a far more dangerous threat from the extreme right? After all, prior to the attack, Bissonnette was not even on the police’s radar.


CSIS and RCMP accused of entrapping terrorism suspects

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
URL: [link]
Date: October 10, 2017

This is part three of a four-part series investigating institutional biases at the RCMP and CSIS in regards to intelligence-gathering.

On July 2, 2013, the RCMP held a press conference in Surrey, B.C. Standing against a bright-blue backdrop, grim-looking senior RCMP officers, dressed in full regalia, displayed photos of pressure cookers said to have contained explosives. They then solemnly announced the arrest of two people, which had occurred the previous day, for “terrorism-related activities.”

John Nuttall, 38, and his common-law wife, Amanda Korody, 29, had placed what they thought were three bombs on the grounds of the B.C. legislature in Victoria, designed to kill dozens of people. The case, which the RCMP called “Project Souvenir,” made for sensational headlines and the couple was soon labelled the “Canada Day bombers.”

In 2015, Nuttall and Korody, who live in Surrey, B.C., were convicted by a jury and facing stiff sentences. But immediately after the verdict, the couple's lawyers applied for a stay of proceedings over how the RCMP had conducted their sting operation. Before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and over weeks of hearings that stretched from the summer of 2015 until the summer of last year, the Mounties' methods of investigating Nuttall and Korody were placed under a microscope in the main courthouse in Vancouver.

Finally, when the court made its ruling a year ago, it was a stunner: the judge accused the RCMP of entrapment – of basically fabricating most of the terrorist plot.


Torture and interrogation the CSIS and RCMP way

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
URL: [link]
Date: September 20, 2017

This is the second chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.

On May 24, 2016, Abderrahmane Ghanem and his parents flew to Algiers, the capital of Algeria, from the Arabian Peninsula country of Oman. After landing and clearing customs, they were met at the airport’s exit by three men in civilian clothes who asked to speak to Ghanem. Privately and briefly. The former Calgary resident, a handsome 29-year-old Canadian with close-cropped dark hair, was led away. He did not return.

Ghanem was now in the hands of the DSS, Algeria’s state security agency – notorious for its use of torture and secret detention. He was about to spend more than a year in an Algerian prison, where he says he was tortured.

Why and how did Ghanem end up incarcerated in Algeria?


Is bigotry blinding CSIS and the RCMP - to disastrous effect?

posted on February 08, 2018 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
URL: [link]
Date: September 14, 2017

This is the first chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.

“Rumours were spread, suggesting Emran (a CSIS analyst, who is Muslim) was a mole in the organization and not to be trusted. The comments, insults and innuendo were intentionally hurtful and designed to isolate and undermine Emran among his colleagues. This was not mere misguided office banter, but rather hatred based upon religious, ethnic, national and racial identity.” – from the lawsuit of five CSIS staffers against their employer, filed on July 13, 2017.

As John Phillips bustles into the beige-coloured boardroom clutching a thick wad of papers under his arm, he apologizes for the half-assembled state of his law firm’s new offices. Phillips is a burly 56-year-old litigator who – with his bushy, snow-white beard, suspenders and steel-rimmed eyeglasses – bears a certain resemblance to Saint Nicolas. He also wears the pleased-as-punch expression of someone who’s been taking victory laps of late.

As he plunks the documents down on the boardroom table, Phillips has good reason to be in high spirits: he’s one of Omar Khadr’s lawyers who negotiated the reported $10.5-million settlement over CSIS and the federal government’s Charter of Rights-abusing actions towards the youth, who spent 10 years in Guantánamo Bay where he was frequently and brutally tortured. This past winter, Phillips also won a $141,000-judgment against the government and two senior RCMP officers over the harassment of Mountie Peter Merrifield (the Department of Justice even agreed to fork over more than $800,000 to cover Merrifield’s legal bills).


VIDEO: 15th Anniversary Press Conference

posted on January 15, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: ICLMG Facebook Page
URL: [link]
Date: December 8, 2017

press conference, Ottawa, Dec 2017
ICLMG's National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, Amnesty International Canada's Program Manager, Hilary Homes, National Council of Canadian Muslims' Executive Director, Ihsaan Gardee, author and human rights activist (and wife of torture survivor Maher Arar) Monia Mazigh, and Coordinator of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture and Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada and writer, Matthew Behrens, spoke at the press conference on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

PHOTOS: 15th Anniversary Rally and Press conference

posted on December 11, 2017 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

We had a small but enthusiastic crowd outside Parliament Hill on Friday marking 15 years of Mohamed Harkat's ongoing security certificate process.

rally on Parliament Hill, December 8, 2017
Matthew Behrens shares a quote from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mohamed Harkat and wife Sophie Harkat look on. Ottawa. December 8, 2017.

See more photos of the event.

All photos by Anne Dagenais Guertin and used with permission.

I hope people remember to demand of governments - this one and all future governments - that nobody ever has their fundamental rights violated either through inaction or deliberate action by Canadian governments. Nobody ever deserves to be tortured. And when a Canadian government is either complicit in that or was not active enough in preventing it there needs to be a responsibility taken.

--Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, October 26, 2017

Kafka's Canada at 15: The secret trials of Mohamed Harkat

posted on December 01, 2017 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Matthew Behrens
Source: Rabble.ca
URL: [link]
Date: November 29, 2017

While International Human Rights Day (December 10) is an opportunity for politicians to issue self-regarding boilerplate statements about respect, dignity and freedom, for one Ottawa couple, it always arrives with a nauseating sense of irony.

It was on December 10, 2002, when Sophie Harkat received a call at work that her husband, Mohamed (Moe), had been arrested on a secret hearing security certificate. He was being held in solitary confinement as an alleged threat to state security -- without charge, without bail, and without being provided any tangible reasons why. As Kafka began his famous dystopian novel The Trial: "Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."

That was certainly the case for Moe Harkat, an Algerian refugee who was indefinitely detained based on the word of a secret informant who failed a lie detector test, and who was never subjected to examination either in an open court or a closed session. Another secret informant in the case had a particularly lustful motivation to keep coming up with allegations, because he had been carrying on an affair with an agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the scandal-plagued agency that cooks up the unsubstantiated allegations in secret trial cases.

The onus in a security certificate case is on the named individual to prove that they are not the state security threat CSIS makes them out to be. How does one prove a negative when the heart of the case is heard in your absence? Whenever a lawyer trying to tackle the case asks questions, the government's witnesses, if any are produced, can claim that answering them would endanger national security. It's all done with the Federal Court of Canada's shameful judicial seal of approval, one that has condemned dozens of individuals since it began providing legal cover to the star chamber process in 1991.

Two-tier justice

Even worse, the security certificate represents the lower rung of a two-tier justice that employs the lowest standards available, while anything not normally admissible in a court of law can be used in these cases (which means one is no longer in a court of law). It only applies to refugees and permanent residents, and ultimately can result in deportation to a country where the scarlet letter of "security threat" means an immediate booking in the nearest torture centre.

The process under which Harkat was arrested on Human Rights Day in 2002 was finally declared unconstitutional in 2007, but not before he spent a harrowing 3.5 years behind bars, including at the infamous Guantanamo North facility especially built for secret trial detainees on the grounds of Kingston's Millhaven Penitentiary.

But "release" to house arrest did not end the misery faced by the Harkats, who then had to deal with the strictest house arrest conditions in Canadian history, with the installation of surveillance cameras at their house, a GPS tracking module strapped to Moe's leg, endless rounds of permission-seeking to go into the backyard or to get groceries into the house, spy agency clearance required for any friends and supporters who wished to visit, vindictive raids on their apartment that sometimes caught one of them in the shower, and a lengthy litany of other humiliating conditions that would have produced an unimaginable level of stress in the best of marriages.

For Sophie, it meant having to become a jail guard in her own home. As a surety, she could never leave Moe out of her sight. If he wanted to fire up the barbecue, he would not go onto the back porch without Sophie going out first and monitoring his exit into the fresh air. If the couple were out on an approved visit to a shopping centre and one of them had to use the bathroom, the "never out of sight" responsibility placed on Sophie meant some socially awkward positioning at public conveniences. Anyone who wished to visit the Harkats at home had to be security-cleared by the government, which socially isolated them. The things most of us take for granted — cell phones, mail privacy, a home computer with internet access -- became the subject of protracted court proceedings that opened up every last detail of their private lives.

Racist 'Super Muslim' myth

The degrading conditions were based on the racist notion of Super Muslim: that Moe, like his fellow detainees, was so desperate to communicate with terrorists or do something awful that he had to be monitored every second of every day, despite the fact that no allegation has ever been made that he has even considered being involved in an act of violence. Things that happen in the normal course of a day for most of us -- driving through a yellow light or speeding up to pass someone on the roadway, for example -- are attributed nefarious purposes and labeled "counter-surveillance techniques" by the cunning detainee and his wife.

In 2008, the Harper government, with the full and cooperative support of the Liberals, replaced the unconstitutional secret trial law with a slightly revised version that continued to violate every fundamental right known to humankind. Scores of civil society groups and individuals protested that the window-dressing provision -- adding security-cleared special advocates who could ask some questions and see some of the secret case -- would leave the detainee no closer to knowing the core of the case against them. All of the Muslim detainees -- known collectively as The Secret Trial Five -- had new security certificates issued against them, and the cases proceeded anew.

But even with some of Canada's top lawyers on the special advocate roster, Moe was no closer to having someone cross-examine his secret and clearly unreliable informants, because the judge in his case, the recently retired Simon Noel, refused to allow it. Even though the special advocates were security cleared and could not violate their oath of secrecy (upon pain of 14 years in prison), Noel did not trust them to question the secret informants in the Harkat case. Instead, Noel took it upon himself to take the lying informants at their word and, when Harkat's public testimony did not square with the dishonest informants, Noel chose to believe the bald, unsubstantiated, and dishonest statements of those who would never be properly questioned about what they alleged.

And so, on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2010, a date no doubt picked for the extra sting it would evoke, Noel released his decision upholding the new secret certificate against Harkat. Despite having earlier found that the CSIS malfeasance referenced above had made it "necessary to repair the damage done to the administration of justice and to re-establish a climate of trust and confidence in this proceeding," Noel chose not to condemn CSIS in his decision, holding all of his fire for Harkat.

At a press conference that morning, Harkat stated he felt as if he were "dying inside," and Sophie declared, "this is a punch in the guts that will leave marks for a very long time." Holding aloft the thick judicial ruling, Sophie said "this document is a load of bull." Anyone familiar with the case could easily have come to the same conclusion. Noel's decision read like a personal attack coloured by a thinly veiled Islamophobia: if Harkat's testimony in certain circumstances was consistent, he must have concocted a story; if he was inconsistent (not unusual for someone experiencing PTSD), he must be a liar. In such a manner Harkat was deemed to be untruthful as opposed to merely human.

Harkat's case eventually made it to the Supreme Court in 2013. One day of hearings was held in public, with the other in some secret bunker somewhere in the national capital region in the absence of Harkat and his lawyers. It was a shameful day in the top court's history, but one which was inevitable in the development of the parallel secret trial system in which we are asked to trust what goes on behind closed doors.

Secrets at the Supreme Court

When the Supreme Court upheld Harkat's certificate in a poorly written, illogical ruling in 2014, it opened the door to the next phase of his Kafkaesque odyssey: proceedings began to deport him to torture in Algeria. Unfortunately, a change in government did not bring about a change in policy. Indeed, then opposition Liberal leader Justin Trudeau praised the Supreme Court decision, and while he more recently declared in that solemn, tear duct-opening manner he likes to employ that "No one, ever, deserves to be tortured," his government is twisting itself into a pretzel to try and produce the logic that will justify deporting Harkat to the dungeons of Algeria.

Despite all of this, the Harkats have remained together as a couple, occasionally enjoying a lessening of the brutal house arrest conditions and trying to develop a life outside of state control. But doing so has been difficult. Their plans to have a family have been scuttled thanks to the stress of the security certificate regime. When they finally did try to start a family, Sophie had a miscarriage. Moe suffers from chronic depression and PTSD. They live a precarious low-income life, with Sophie working as a crossing guard and Moe as a part-time janitor.

Opportunities to find better work for Moe have been rejected because of his list of conditions. Because he is not allowed to use the internet outside of his home, he cannot work as a cashier or stock receiver at a box store. Because he is not allowed to use a cell phone that is not strictly monitored by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and he is not allowed to leave Ottawa without advance notice, he had to turn down a well-paying job with benefits as a courier driver.

Even approved leisure time is humiliating. A trip to a cottage in Quebec is met with armed, bullet-proof wearing border agents waiting outside their home in eerie-looking, tinted-window vehicles. Because Moe has to call in every day he is away from a landline, he has had to drive into town to find the nearest pay phone -- which are harder to access in a cellular age -- and call the agent who is sitting in a car right outside of the cottage (earning, needless to say, a pile of overtime pay).

The Harkats question why the CBSA continues to follow them to family birthdays and funerals. After all, the role of a court-approved surety is to monitor the individual who has been released on conditions. The CBSA behavior is a clear sign that they do not trust the Harkats, even though the court seems to, and even though the last security assessment of Moe, produced by CSIS, ranked his threat-level as low. The Harkats say many of their neighbours are new immigrants, and when they see the CBSA officers outside the Harkat home, they are fearful of becoming friends because it looks like police officers are constantly at their abode.

Despite these overwhelming challenges, the couple is well-loved by their extended family, friends, and some neighbours, especially the little kids who line up outside of their door when they want their bikes fixed by the avuncular Moe.

But beneath their warm smiles and community spirit, the toll it has taken on them has been significant. The clinical director of the Integrated Forensic Program at the Royal Ottawa Health Group -- who happens to be one of this country's leading mental health specialists -- recently produced a report on Moe based on 112 evaluation sessions going back to 2009, as well as additional interviews dating back to 2005. It is a heartbreaking account of the human cost of state surveillance and repression.

"Mr. Harkat has a history of chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress related to having been incarcerated on a Security Certificate in maximum security for 43 months, including one year in solitary confinement followed by many years of living under very strict bail conditions and facing deportation to Algeria, where he believes he will be arrested, tortured and at risk of death," the report declares.

"There are times when Mr. Harkat has experienced recurrent visions on a virtually daily basis over several months of being arrested, incarcerated, deported and tortured. Sometimes he has visions of being shot by CBSA due to a misunderstanding, minor misstep or accidental violation of his bail conditions. Often, he has been troubled by insomnia and recurrent nightmares with the same themes as his daytime visions. Energy has been chronically low and concentration impaired such that reading is limited to no more than five minutes at a time. Appetite is chronically poor to a point where he has to force himself to eat even one meal a day."

The report also notes that Harkat remains frustrated all these years later at his state of legal limbo, one in which he has never been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. It states: "Particularly he is frustrated around secret sources of information being used against him, including of an informant who failed a lie detector test. He has been frustrated that phone-tap evidence was used against him even though the recordings were destroyed and only summaries of the transcripts presented, including of conversations that he was supposedly involved with for which the details are not remotely familiar to him."

Harkat is also left befuddled because he is accused of association with an individual, Ibn Khattab, who, in another security certificate case, was declared not to have been a security theat. But Judge Noel, based on the exact same evidence that allowed another judge to declare Khattab was not a threat, decided otherwise, adding guilt-by-association to Harkat, who says he never met Khattab.

The health risks of limbo

Despite this maddening cascade of Kafkaesque obfuscation, the report finds that "Harkat has continued to express a belief in Canadian democracy and the judicial system in spite of his complaints about the flaws of the government's case against him and the unfairness of the process. My experience is that ironically Mr. Harkat's level of confidence in Canadian democracy and judicial system surpasses that of most Canadian-born citizens."

The report goes on to find that Harkat has "a complete absence of psychopathic traits" and scored at the low end of risk on a wide battery of tests designed to test for rigidity of thought or propensity to violence.

"It cannot be overemphasized how stressful Mr. Harkat's present situation is, and how the present situation is anything but benign," the reported concluded.

The Harkats were back in court in mid-November to try and relax their conditions, which continue to cause major health issues. As the mental health evaluation noted, "The risk of continuing with the present situation is further permanent neurobiological changes that will be more refractory to treatment and recovery the longer they continue. This risk is not only to his mental health, but his physical health as well. Chronic stress is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular events (heart attacks and strokes), and suppressed immunity, including susceptibility to infections and cancer. There are also costs to his wife and family, financial costs, including to the Canadian taxpayer, and loss of Mr. Harkat's potential contributions through work."

The hearings were typical of those that have marked the public portion of the secret trials over the past two decades. Government lawyers, who are playing with all the cards, complained that they were somehow at a disadvantage. They produced witnesses from government surveillance agencies that were incompetent at best. Indeed, when CBSA manager Michel Renaud, in charge of Harkat's surveillance, was asked if had ever seen pictures of or knew anything about a series of individuals with whom Harkat is not allowed to associate, he replied that he had not. Harkat's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, then asked how it was that CBSA agents can do their job if they don't know anything about the alleged threat they are supposed to be preventing. Renaud shrugged and said such matters were not his bailiwick, but could be referred to the group's national security section.

Renaud was also asked if he had ever read any of the Federal Court decisions on Harkat's case or the threat assessments produced by CSIS (the last was in 2009, and though based completely on dated allegations from the 1990s, found that the alleged risk he posed was at the low end of the scale). Renaud again said no. How then, Jackman asked, could the CBSA say it was containing an alleged threat if it had no clue what the alleged threat was? The question, he replied again, should be referred to the group's national security section.

As the Harkats await word from the judge, they are also hoping to hear back from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. They applied for Moe to stay in Canada as a permanent resident by asking Goodale to find that Moe's living here would not be contrary to Canada's national interest. Over 700 letters of support were attached to that application. Finally, they are awaiting word from Trudeau's immigration bureaucracy, which is currently considering submissions on whether Harkat should be deported to torture. Just another week in Kafka's Canada.

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