[AUDIO] CKUT Radio interview with Sophie Harkat (Jan 2016)

posted on February 05, 2016 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Rose W Source: CKUT News Collective URL: [link] Date: February 5, 2016 CKUT’s Rose W recently talked to Sophie Harkat, whose husband Mohamed Harkat was arrested 13 years ago under a secret trial Security Certificate. Listen:

[video] ICLMG calls for strong Oversight & Review of our national security agencies

posted on January 27, 2016 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by ICLMG Source: YouTube.com URL: [link] Date: January 25, 2016 Here is a video the ICLMG has made to call for stronger and more integrated review of Canada's national security agencies and specifically for the implementation of Justice O'Connor's recommendations. Please share widely via email, on social media and link to your website:

‘Troubling’ Conservative torture policy up for review, Goodale says

posted on January 23, 2016 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill (CP) Source: National Newswatch URL: [link] Date: January 19. 2016 OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals will review controversial directives enacted by the Harper government that allow for the sharing of information even when it might lead to torture, says the public safety minister. The "troubling set of issues" raised by the foreign information-sharing policy "will be raised in the course of our consultations" on the overall national security direction of the new government, Ralph Goodale said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. The news follows pressure from human-rights and privacy advocates to conduct a wide-ranging examination of security policies introduced by the Conservatives, whisked from office in the October election. The federal policy on foreign information-sharing has been roundly criticized for effectively condoning the torture of people in overseas prisons, contrary to international law and Canada's United Nations commitments. A four-page 2010 framework document, released under the Access to Information Act, says when there is a "substantial risk" that sending information to, or soliciting information from, a foreign agency would result in torture — and it is unclear whether the risk can be managed through assurances or other means — the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head. In deciding what to do, the agency head will consider factors including the threat to Canada's national security and the nature and imminence of the threat; the status of Canada's relationship with — and the human rights record of — the foreign agency; and the rationale for believing that sharing the information would lead to torture. Critics say when there is a serious risk of torture, there should be no sharing — period. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, National Defence and the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's electronic spy agency, are bound by the federal policy on sharing information with foreign agencies. "That's a very troubling set of issues," Goodale said, adding the government intends to develop a response "that reflects what Canadians want." "We'll be listening very carefully for the messages from Canadians on that subject." Goodale said the Liberal government is open to a general rethinking of national security legislation, not just a few changes the party has promised to the omnibus bill known as C-51. The government plans to give Canadians their say before deciding what changes to make. Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press © 2016 National Newswatch Inc.

Liberals must end Canada’s complicity in torture

posted on January 07, 2016 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Monia Mazigh and Azeezah Kanji Source: The Toronto Star URL: [link] 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.

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2016

Amnesty International warns Ottawa man faces serious mistreatment if deported

posted on December 14, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Jim Bronskill (CP) Source: CTV News URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 OTTAWA -- Amnesty International says Mohamed Harkat faces serious mistreatment if he is returned to his native Algeria and it joined the Ottawa man Thursday in urging the Trudeau government to halt his deportation. Harkat, a former pizza delivery man, was taken into custody 13 years ago on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent -- an accusation he denies. The federal government has been trying to deport the Algerian refugee on a national security certificate -- a seldom-used tool in immigration law for removing non-citizens suspected of extremism or espionage. Harkat, 47, fears he will be tortured if forced to leave Canada. "I love this country and I came here for a better life," he said during a news conference. "I just want my life back." Amnesty International's research suggests a return to Algeria could put Harkat at serious risk of being placed in "incommunicado detention," meaning he would be denied access to family, legal counsel or an independent doctor, contrary to international human rights law, said Hilary Homes of the organization's Canadian branch. People suspected of terrorism-related offences are often detained by the Algerian security forces and denied contact with the outside world, sometimes for prolonged periods, she said. In addition, Algerian courts continue to accept confessions extracted under torture or duress, resulting in unfair trials, Homes said. "Effective safeguards against torture or ill-treatment in Algerian law and practice are lacking and security forces continue to enjoy impunity for their acts of torture and ill-treatment of those they detain," she told the news conference. "It's time for Canada to do the right thing and stop trying to deport Mohamed Harkat." Harkat's lawyers have long argued the security certificate process is unfair because the person facing deportation doesn't see the full case against them. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the certificate against Harkat last year and the government has since taken initial steps toward removing him. Amnesty is concerned the federal government might rely on Algerian assurances that Harkat would not be mistreated in ultimately deciding to return him, Homes said. "Such assurances from governments with a poor human rights record are inherently unreliable and do not provide an effective safeguard against torture or ill-treatment." © 2015 Bell Media All rights reserved.

Harkat calls on Liberal government to cancel his deportation

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 [PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat (left), who was arrested and detained under a secret trial Security Certificate, stands with lawyer Leo Russomano during a press conference to mark the 13th anniversary of his detention and International Human Right's Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. ] Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat has called on the Liberal government to halt his deportation and end his labyrinthine journey through the federal security certificate process. The Algerian-born Harkat, 47, issued a public plea Thursday for clemency on the 13th anniversary of his arrest at a Vanier townhouse complex. He subsequently spent three years in jail and another seven years under strict house arrest during a legal odyssey that twice saw his case go the Supreme Court. This August, more than a year after the high court affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaida network, the government launched deportation proceedings against him. “I would like to start a new page and be given a chance to move on with my life,” Harkat said in an interview Thursday. “I have big hope in this government.” Harkat said he would be imprisoned and tortured if returned to Algeria, a country from which he fled as a university student in March 1990 because of his opposition to the military government. After five years in Pakistan — security agents allege that he made terrorist contacts during that time — Harkat flew to Canada and claimed refugee status. He came to the attention of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service almost immediately, but was not arrested until December 2002 during the heated aftermath of 9/11. “I’ve spent my adult life in this country,” Harkat said Thursday, “and I love this county. I love the people.” Amnesty International has said returning Harkat to Algeria would likely expose him to “incommunicado detention,” a situation often faced by terror suspects in which they’re put at increased risk of torture through extended periods of isolation. Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said Canada has a legal and moral obligation not to deport someone to a country where they could face torture. “During the election,” she said, “the Liberals liked to describe themselves as the party of the Charter so we’ll be putting a lot of pressure on them to hold them to that.” What’s more, she said, it makes no sense to deport her husband when he has been living in the community for years without incident and has proven that he poses no threat. “Let’s just save everyone a lot of time, a lot of heartache and money, and end it right now,” she argued. “We’re not asking for an apology or anything else: We’re just asking them to drop the whole procedure. We just want to lead a normal life. That’s it.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre, supported Harkat in June 2006 when he first applied for bail. Alexandre Trudeau filed an affidavit and offered a cash bond in support of Harkat’s application; he also wrote, directed and produced a documentary, Secure Freedom, that highlighted the injustices of the original security certificate process. Harkat lawyer Leo Russomanno said Thursday that he has received no indication from government officials whether they’re going to proceed with the deportation, which was initiated during the election campaign. Deportation promises to raise difficult legal issues. A government official will first have to determine whether Harkat remains a serious threat to national security. If the minister’s delegate concludes such a risk exists, the official must then assess what kind of torture risk Harkat would face if returned to Algeria, and whether the government can rely on diplomatic assurances that he won’t be mistreated. Those two risk assessments would then be weighed against one another to arrive at a deportation decision. The Supreme Court has ruled that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture. © 2015 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

Harkat craint la torture s'il est renvoyé en Algérie, dit Amnistie

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par Jim Bronskill Source: La Presse URL: [link] Date: 10 décembre 2015 Amnistie internationale a affirmé, jeudi, que Mohamed Harkat risquait d'être gravement maltraité s'il était renvoyé dans son Algérie natale et a exhorté le gouvernement du premier ministre Justin Trudeau à interrompre le processus de déportation. M. Harkat, un ancien livreur de pizza résidant à Ottawa, a été arrêté il y a 13 ans parce que les autorités le soupçonnaient d'être un agent dormant d'Al-Qaïda, une accusation qu'il dément. Le fédéral a depuis tenté d'expulser le réfugié algérien en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité, une procédure de la loi sur l'immigration rarement utilisée permettant d'expulser du Canada de présumés terroristes ou espions ne possédant pas la citoyenneté canadienne. L'homme âgé de 47 ans craint d'être torturé s'il est forcé de quitter le Canada. «J'adore ce pays et je suis venu ici pour avoir une meilleure existence, a-t-il déclaré durant une conférence de presse, jeudi. Je veux retrouver ma vie.» Selon Hilary Homes d'Amnistie internationale Canada, M. Harkat pourrait être jeté en prison à son retour en Algérie sans possibilité de communiquer avec ses proches, un avocat ou un médecin indépendant, ce qui est contraire au droit international en matière des droits de la personne. Mme Homes a soutenu que les individus soupçonnés d'avoir des liens avec des organisations terroristes étaient souvent détenus par les forces de sécurité algériennes et coupés du monde extérieur, parfois pendant de longues périodes. En outre, les tribunaux algériens acceptent encore les confessions obtenues sous la torture ou par la force, ce qui mène à la tenue de procès qui ne sont pas équitables, a-t-elle ajouté. «Dans la loi comme dans la pratique, l'Algérie ne dispose pas de mécanismes efficaces pour protéger les personnes détenues de la torture ou des mauvais traitements et les forces de sécurité continuent à torturer ou à maltraiter les prisonniers en toute impunité», a fait valoir Hilary Homes durant la conférence de presse. «Il est temps pour le Canada de prendre la bonne décision et de cesser d'essayer de déporter Mohamed Harkat.» Les avocats de M. Harkat martèlent depuis longtemps que la procédure relative aux certificats de sécurité est injuste parce que la personne visée n'a jamais accès à l'ensemble de la preuve déposée contre elle. La Cour suprême du Canada a maintenu le certificat contre Mohamed Harkat l'an dernier et le gouvernement a amorcé les démarches pour le déporter. Amnistie craint que le fédéral ne se base sur les promesses du gouvernement algérien de garantir la sécurité de M. Harkat pour décider de le renvoyer ou non. «Les promesses de gouvernements ne respectant pas les droits de la personne ne sont pas fiables et ne garantissent pas que l'individu concerné ne sera pas torturé ou maltraité», a conclu Mme Homes. © La Presse, ltée. Tous droits réservés.

ICLMG: Mohamed Harkat’s deportation should be stopped immediately

posted on December 11, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Press Release Source: The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2015 The ICLMG read the following statement today at a press conference on Parliament Hill alongside Mohamed Harkat and his lawyer, the Justice for Mohamed Harkat collective, and two of our member organizations, Amnesty International and the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Last August 2015, the federal government launched deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat, exactly 20 years after he first arrived to Canada and claimed the refugee status. Mohamed Harkat was arrested on December 10, 2002 – exactly 13 years ago – under a security certificate, and since he has been in a legal limbo. He stayed three years in jail, some of them in Guantanamo North, the 3.2 million dollar prison built specially for Muslim detainees. After he was released, he was subjected to the strictest conditions of house arrest. His wife, Sophie Lamarche, became his “unofficial” jailer at home, thus losing what remained of their privacy. For many years, he had to wear an electronic tracking bracelet to monitor all his movements. In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government security certificate regime and found that the security certificate against Mohamed Harkat was reasonable. However, the Supreme Court reminded the judges operating under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that they should be “interventionist”, and clearly stated that the government couldn’t proceed with a security certificate case unless the suspect is reasonably informed of the case against them to ensure their defence. Unfortunately, today, we haven’t seen any steps taken by the government towards allowing suspects to access the secret evidence, if any, against them. On the contrary, Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act passed in June 2015, reinforced the use of secrecy even in the cases involving Canadian citizens and has lowered the threshold and expanded the grounds for preventative arrest. This deportation decision would be the first step towards the removal of Mohamed Harkat from his peaceful life in Canada to torture and very likely disappearance and execution. Before being sent to torture, an assessment of the potential danger to Canadians posed by Harkat needs to be done. But realistically, what is the threat posed today by Mohamed Harkat? The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture, but it has not defined the full meaning of that concept. According to many human right organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Algeria is still considered to be a country where grave violations of human rights are common. Can Canada really accept in good conscience the diplomatic assurances that would be given to deport Mohamed Harkat to Algeria? We do not believe it can. Today, we ask the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, to immediately stop the deportation procedures against Mohamed Harkat. And we add: does this government want to be remembered for sending a refugee back to torture or execution? ICLMG believes that Mohamed Harkat should be allowed to stay in Canada with his wife. After more than a decade of legal fights, secrecy, physical and emotional distress, it is time to give Mohamed his rights and his life back. Thank you. Copyright © 2015 International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

The Liberals and the Charter: don’t deport Harkat to torture

posted on October 27, 2015 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Chantal Sundaram Source: International Socialists URL: [link] 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.

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Government launches deportation proceedings against Harkat

posted on September 22, 2015 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: September 18, 2015 The federal government has launched deportation proceedings against Algerian-born terror suspect Mohamed Harkat 20 years after he first arrived in Ottawa as a refugee claimant. The case had been dormant for more than a year — ever since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government’s security certificate regime and affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. But for reasons that remain unexplained, the government took no action against Harkat for 15 months after its court victory. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said Friday she would “not speak to specific cases.” Late last month, almost four weeks into the federal election campaign, Harkat received an official letter from the CBSA informing him that the first step in his deportation process had begun. “He was totally devastated,” Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said in an interview. “That big grey cloud he’s had over his head for 13 years, it just got a lot darker.” Harkat said her husband had hoped the government wouldn’t pursue his deportation. “How big a threat can he be if they wait 15 months to issue this letter?” Two years ago, an electronic tracking bracelet was removed from Harkat’s leg and his release conditions relaxed to allow him to travel outside of Ottawa, use a mobile phone and an Internet-connected computer. Monia Mazigh, national co-ordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said the move to deport Harkat comes at an odd time: with an election in full swing and with no certainty about what party will form the next government. “We see this as a very, very dangerous move,” said Mazigh, who argued that Canada should not deport someone if there is even the slightest possibility that they will be mistreated or tortured. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said returning Harkat to Algeria would put him at serious risk of being placed under “incommunicado detention,” a situation in which prisoners are denied access to family, lawyers and physicians. Amnesty, he said, has documented numerous cases of terror suspects being held for prolonged periods under such conditions, putting them at increased risk of torture. Harkat, 47, was first arrested on the strength of a security certificate in December 2002. He spent more than three years in jail and another seven years under strict house arrest during a legal odyssey that twice saw his case go the Supreme Court. The deportation process promises to raise more difficult legal issues. The first step involves an assessment of the danger that Harkat poses to Canadians. A government official appointed by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will have to determine whether Harkat remains a serious threat to national security given his public profile, the passage of time and other factors. If the minister’s delegate concludes such a risk exists, the official must then assess what kind of torture risk Harkat would face if returned to Algeria, and whether the government can rely on diplomatic assurances that he won’t be mistreated. Those two risk assessments would then be weighed against one another to arrive at a deportation decision. The Supreme Court has already ruled that terror suspects can only be deported in “exceptional circumstances” to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture, but it has not defined the full meaning of that concept. Harkat arrived in Ottawa as a refugee in September 1995 after living in Pakistan for five years. Before his arrest, Harkat worked as a pizza delivery man and gas station attendant while also developing an expensive casino gambling habit. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) built a case against him based on 13 wiretapped phone conversations recorded between 1996 and 1998, and at least two unnamed informants, one of whom failed a CSIS lie-detector test. In 2009, CSIS issued a threat assessment report that suggested Harkat had played a mostly logistical role for jihadists and did not engage in acts of violence. It concluded that his threat to Canadians had diminished over time but not disappeared. © 2015 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved.

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