by Monia Mazigh and Azeezah Kanji
Source: The Toronto Star
Date: January 7, 2016
The spectacle of torture haunts the “war on terror.” From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay to “black sites” and prisons all over the world, thousands of men and women (but mostly men) have been imprisoned and made subject to horrific forms of physical and psychological violence. Beatings, rapes, threats of rape, electric shocks, waterboarding, forced feeding, forced nudity – these are some of the barbarisms performed in the name of saving civilization from the threat of terrorism.
Canada’s participation in this global network of torture is less visible than the United States’. Our involvement has been less direct. Our hands appear cleaner, our consciences less tainted. And yet, Canada has also been complicit in torture in the years since 9/11, under both Liberal and Conservative governments. We have also breached law and principle for the sake of “national security”: a “security” that seemingly continues to elude us, despite the sacrifices of rights and freedoms made at its altar.
Canada’s position on torture is currently on trial in the case of Mohamed Harkat.
Harkat arrived in Canada in 1995 as a refugee from Algeria. Seeking security, he was instead labelled a security threat, and detained without trial under Canada’s security certificate regime in 2002. Accused of being a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, Mohamed Harkat was incarcerated for four years and then held under extremely restrictive bail conditions – all on the strength of secret evidence that he was not allowed to see.
Now, Harkat is facing deportation to possible torture in Algeria. In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the security certificate against him, paving the way for the government’s deportation efforts. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who wrote the decision, acknowledged that Harkat “potentially faces deportation to a country where he may be at risk for torture or death, although the constitutionality of his deportation in such circumstances is not before us in the present appeal.”
This assessment is corroborated by human rights groups. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, observed that deporting Harkat would expose him to risk of serious mistreatment. Indeed, Algeria is notorious for torturing prisoners, particularly those suspected of involvement in terrorism.
International law condemns torture in the strongest possible terms. The ban on torture is absolute: no reason or excuse can justify the use of any form of torture. Article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture forbids deporting or transferring individuals to states where they may be tortured. Relying on pledges not to torture from states known to torture is also prohibited – as foolish as delivering a mouse into the jaws of a lion that has promised not to eat it.
International law notwithstanding, the Conservative government initiated deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat during this last election, proceedings that the recently elected Liberal government have not halted so far.
Disturbingly, this is not the first instance of Canadian government complicity in torture in the “war on terror.” For example, the O’Connor and Iacobucci inquiries revealed the role that Canadian government officials played in the secret detention and torture of four innocent Canadian citizens – Maher Arar, Ahmad El-Maati, Abdullah Almalki, and Muayyed Nureddin – in Syria (and also in Egypt, in the case of El-Maati).
The ghastly details of Syrian and Egyptian torture chambers have long been public knowledge, documented in reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But instead of protecting its citizens from abuse at the hands of these torturous regimes, our government took advantage of the situation: Canadian intelligence agencies sent information for the Syrians and Egyptians to use in their interrogations.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture castigated the Canadian government for its complicity in the torture of Arar, El-Maati, Almalki and Nureddin. But while Maher Arar has received compensation for his ordeal, Canada’s other torture victims continue to fight lengthy legal battles for recompense.
More recently, we have learned through media reports that Salim Alaradi, a Canadian citizen of Libyan descent who has been incarcerated for more than 17 months in the United Arab Emirates without charges, has been tortured. His lawyer Paul Champ told the media that the Canadian government knew Alaradi was tortured, but did not tell the family until he became involved in the case as lawyer. Is it a privacy issue as the government claims, or yet another deafening silence when it comes to denouncing torture?
These shameful episodes did not only occur under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, infamous for its willingness to discard the basic human rights of certain humans, but also during the post-9/11 reign of the Liberal Party.
The Liberals and their “sunny ways” are back again. Will they finally banish the dark shadow of Canadian complicity in torture?
Dr. Monia Mazigh is an author, academic, and human rights activist, and is national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Azeezah Kanji is a graduate of University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and programming coordinator at Noor Cultural Centre.
by Chantal Sundaram
Source: International Socialists
Date: October 27, 2015
It is not a coincidence that Mohamed Harkat received his deportation papers in the middle of the federal election campaign.
Though it may have been eclipsed by the niqab debate, the affidavit for Harkat`s deportation to Algeria, and most certainly to torture, was yet another indication of Harper`s deliberate stoking of Islamophobia.
The deportation is the consequence of a “Security Certificate,” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which allows for the imprisonment in Canada of refugees and permanent residents without charge.
Security Certificates allow for secret trials in which evidence is not disclosed to the detainees or their lawyers, and the full right to appeal is denied in a process that uses the lowest standard of proof of any court in Canada. And, they allow the ultimate injustice: deportation without charge to unfair imprisonment, torture or death.
But on October 19, voters sent a strong signal that they reject the overt Islamophobia and warmongering of the Tories. The Liberal withdrawal of Canada`s fighter jets from the Iraq-Syria mission was the first follow-through on that election mandate. The public sentiment demonstrated in the election is also a new opportunity to relaunch a movement to defend and regain civil liberties in this country.
But it will take public support and pressure to push the Liberals on this front. They voted for Bill C-51, and did not condemn last year’s second Supreme Court of Canada decision that deemed Security Certificates "imperfect," and secret hearings "uncomfortable," but still constitutional.
by Press Release
Date: August 20, 2015
Toronto, August 20, 2015 - The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is joining its voice to the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) to denounce the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (formerly Bill C-24) as unconstitutional and anti-Canadian.
BCCLA and CARL have launched a constitutional challenge to the new Citizenship Act, a federal law relegating over one million Canadians to second-class status.
The lawsuit argues that the new Citizenship Act, in force since the passage of Bill C-24, creates a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals, whether born abroad or in Canada, and naturalized citizens. These Canadians will now have more limited citizenship rights compared to other Canadians, simply because they or their parents or ancestors were born in another country.
Under the new law, these Canadians could see their citizenship taken away if convicted of certain serious crimes in Canada or abroad (including in a country that does not have due process or rule of law). New Canadians who became citizens after the passage of Bill C-24 could also lose their citizenship if they move abroad for work, school, or family reasons. Other Canadians would not be vulnerable to losing their citizenship.
"The ICLMG opposed Bill C-24 since it was tabled in Parliament" said Monia Mazigh, National Coordinator of the ICLMG. "The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act is a step backward for our democracy and rule of law principle. With this new Citizenship Act, Canadians are divided into two classes: those who will keep their Canadian citizenship no matter what and those who can be stripped of their Canadian citizenship if some federal bureaucrats decide so. Thus, if you are born in Canada but you have parents or ancestors from another country, your Canadian citizenship is worth less. It can be revoked not by the court but by the government and this is unacceptable by any democratic standards."
Despite the public outcry, the criticisms and concerns formulated by legal experts, academics and media commentators, Bill C-24 became law.
"The ICLMG is really happy to support this constitutional challenge and to send a strong message that the Canadian citizenship should have the same meaning for all Canadians regardless of their genetic background."
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For more information about the legal challenge, contact:
Sarbjit Kaur, Kaur Communications
For more information about the ICLMG, contact:
Anne Dagenais Guertin, Communications and Research Coordinator
613-241-5298 ext. 2, [email]
CSIS relied on no-torture 'assurances' from foreign agencies, memo reveals
by Jim Bronskill (CP)
Source: The Canadian Press & CBC News
Date: Jul 03, 2015
CSIS bound by federal policy on sharing information with foreign groups
Newly released memos show Canada's spy agency revealed its interest in people to foreign partners in two cases after receiving assurances the individuals would not be tortured — a practice human rights advocates say shirks the law and puts vulnerable detainees at risk.
In one case, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service got the green light from a high-level internal committee to interview a Canadian detained abroad as long as captors gave "proper assurances" the person would not be abused, the CSIS documents say.
In another case, the spy service received the go-ahead to send information to an allied agency about a terrorist target of mutual interest if such "assurances" were provided, the internal CSIS memos reveal.
The two cases were among 10 instances in which the CSIS information sharing evaluation committee applied a ministerial directive on the use and sharing of information that may have been tainted by torture or could give rise to someone being brutalized in an overseas prison cell.
The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain CSIS notes outlining the 10 cases — with names and other identifying details stripped out — as well as a spring 2014 memo to spy service director Michel Coulombe.
The two cases in which CSIS sought promises that individuals would not be abused raise "a red flag," said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, who called the practice an end-run around international legal obligations.
Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, says it is not reliable for CSIS to rely on assurances from foreign parties that individuals of interest will not be tortured.
"That's always problematic from a human-rights perspective," he said in an interview.
"It's not reliable. And we have been deeply concerned about the ways in which governments around the world have been increasingly relying on assurances."
Many western governments have resorted to the use of "diplomatic assurances" to circumvent their obligations under international law, said Ottawa human-rights lawyer Paul Champ.
Not adequate protection
Click on the photo of Mohamed to see all items related to him. JUNE 2017: Mohamed Harkat once again faces deportation to his native Algeria after the Supreme Court of Canada declared the federal government’s security certificate regime constitutional.
This fight is not over. The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee will re-double its efforts to see that justice is done for Mohamed Harkat and that the odious security certificate system of injustice is abolished once and for all.
Here is the contact information for Sophie Harkat.
Email Sophie: [email]
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Our Legal Team:
Barbara Jackman, Lead Public Counsel for Mohamed Harkat
Jackman, Nazami & Associates
Barristers and Solicitors
596 St. Clair Avenue West
Tel.: (416) 653-9964
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Christian Legeais, spokesperson and bilingual media contact: