by: Matthew Behrens
Source: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
Date: December 10, 2020
Please send a season’s greeting card or letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to stop the persecution of Ottawa refugee Mohamed Harkat, still fighting to end his deportation to torture and win his long-deserved permanent residence (samples below. No postage needed!). December holidays are rooted in freeing the captives, bringing good news to the poor and brokenhearted, and liberation of the oppressed. You can send the greetings postage-free, and it will have far more impact in the age of electronic communication. Sample messages are below.
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
Starting December 10, 2002, Mohamed (Moe) Harkat was illegally held for 43 months in maximum security detention without charge on secret allegations he was not allowed to properly contest. He was held under legislation unanimously found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007.
by: Jillian Kestler-D'Amours
Source: Al Jazeera English
Date: December 16, 2019
Supporters of Mohamed Harkat, who's spent 17 years under 'security certificate', says he'll face persecution if deported
Montreal, Canada - It has been nearly two decades since Sophie Lamarche-Harkat's husband was arrested outside their home in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Since then, the circumstances surrounding Mohamed Harakat's detention and restricted release have shifted, but the couple's life together remains mired in uncertainty.
"I'm just exhausted. I'm burnt out from all this. This has taken a toll on both of us," Sophie told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview last week. "It feels unreal [that] it's been 17 years."
Harkat fled Algeria as civil war gripped the country in the mid-1990s. He eventually moved to Canada, where he obtained refugee status.
On December 10, 2002, however, he was arrested in Ottawa. Accused of being tied to al-Qaeda and associating with extremists, allegations he denies, he was detained under what is called a "security certificate".
Used against a handful of people in Canada in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the security certificate mechanism is an immigration tool that allows the Canadian government to detain and deport non-citizens on national security grounds.
With security certificates, the government does not have to charge the accused with a crime and it can rely on evidence it keeps secret for reasons of security. In Harkat's case, he was detained for more than three years before being released with restrictions.
The 17-year anniversary of Harkat's arrest has prompted renewed calls for the Canadian government to lift the security certificate and allow Harkat to remain in the country.
The case has also put the spotlight on Canadian immigration processes - and raised new questions about the government's long-standing security certificates system, as well as fears Harkat would face torture in Algeria.
"Mo's never been charged and everybody's that's met and loves him will tell you that he doesn't have an ounce of hate in him. My husband is loving, hard-working, he's funny," Sophie said.
"It's so shameful that in Canada - a Canada that's known for human rights, has put my husband through hell. Not only him, me and my entire family."
According to the Canadian government, 27 people have been issued security certificates since 1991.
Part of the country's immigration system, security certificates give the government the power to detain and deport non-citizens it believes pose a threat to national security, have committed human rights violations, or who are involved in organised crime, among other things.
Due to the nature of the alleged offences and to protect national security, Ottawa keeps much of the evidence used in security certificate cases confidential.
Five men, including Harkat, were issued security certificates in the early 2000s after Canada passed an Anti-Terrorism Act in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
The cases of those men, known as the Secret Trial Five, led human rights groups to condemn Canada for using a tool they argued violates the right to due process and relies on secret evidence.
It was later revealed that in Harkat's case, the Canadian government used information it obtained from a Guantanamo Bay detainee known as Abu Zubaydah who was subjected to torture at the hands of US interrogators, including 83 rounds of waterboarding in a single month.
After his arrest, Harkat spent more than three years in Ontario's Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, known as Canada's Guantanamo North before being released in 2006 under what advocates said were some of the country's strictest bail conditions, including 24-hour supervision and a GPS monitoring device.
Harkat has denied the government's claim that he is associated with al-Qaeda. But he has struggled to defend himself without knowing all the charges against him.
Sophie said both she and her husband have struggled to find employment due to the stigma surrounding the case. He currently works as a custodian at a church in Ottawa, but ongoing restrictions on his mobile phone and computer use has made that work more difficult, she added.
"It feels absurd. It's really Kafkaesque," said Tim McSorley, national coordinator at the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, an advocacy organisation in Ottawa, about the security certificates system.
McSorley explained that security certificates are "applied as an anti-terrorism tool and because of that they are done in a large degree of secrecy".
The accused in these cases are "not being charged with a crime, they're not going to a criminal court, they don't have the same rights to defend themselves", he told Al Jazeera.
After mounting criticism and legal challenges to the system, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2007 that security certificates were unconstitutional.
On this #InternationalHumanRightsDay, the Liberal government must end the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat. Read the open letter sent to @BillBlair, from us, @AmnestyNow, @nccm and 19 others, calling for him & his govt to act immediately: https://t.co/0NkDfqIEo0#cdnpoli
— International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (@ICLMG) December 10, 2019
But the court gave the government time to draft new legislation that would better address concerns about the rights of people held under the certificates. Ottawa passed a law a year later that instituted a few changes to the system, including the creation of a "special advocate" whose job it is "to protect the interests" of the accused.
But McSorley said the special advocate is not a defence lawyer, and he or she cannot share much of the government's secret evidence with the accused.
"Once the special advocate goes into the confidential hearings, they're not allowed to communicate any more with the defence," he said.
After those changes were made, the Supreme Court in 2014 upheld both the revised security certificate system, and said the one issued against Harkat was "reasonable". After that decision, the government moved forward with plans to send Harkat back to Algeria.
"It's really frustrating and infuriating to see that 17 years in the government is making no move to provide any more clarity as to what he's supposedly done and to allow him to defend himself," McSorley said.
The federal government defends its decision to place Harkat under a security certificate, however.
"The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the constitutionality of the security certificates regime and the reasonableness of the security certificate issued against Mr Harkat," said Tim Warmington, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada, told Al Jazeera in an email.
Although Warmington said the government ministry could not comment on specific removal orders, he stressed that "Canada has a robust assessment process and safeguards to ensure that no one is removed to risk of persecution."
When people who hold refugee status are issued a deportation order, they can only be removed from Canada after a "Danger Opinion" is issued by a senior official at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, another government branch, said Warmington.
In such cases, the official "must balance the risk of mistreatment in returning the person against the danger the person poses to the public if they remain in Canada", he explained.
The UN's Refugee Convention protects refugees against forced returns to places they could face persecution, a process known as refoulement. But exceptions can be made if a refugee is deemed to pose a threat to the country in which he or she resettled, the convention states.
In Canada, refugees who fail to pass the "Danger Opinion" and are subject to deportation from Canada may apply for judicial review and ask that their removal be suspended pending the court's decision.
Harkat's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, told Al Jazeera she filed for a judicial review of his deportation order in November 2018. But the federal court still has not received all the information on which the government based its removal decision, she said, and without the complete record, it is unclear when the case will proceed.
Jackman described the government's behaviour in Harkat's case as "perverse".
"I think it's just face-saving," she said, about why she believes the government has not dropped the case.
"I think that they spent so much money and invested so much in it that they can't be seen as saying, 'OK, this isn't well founded' … I think it's perverse in terms of what they're doing and how long they've been doing it."
Risk of torture
Harkat's supporters have raised serious concerns that he could be tortured in Algeria should Canada follow through with his deportation.
On December 10, human rights groups, unions and concerned Canadians sent a letter to the new public safety minister, Bill Blair, to ask for him to intervene to prevent Harkat's removal from the country.
They said Canada would be putting Harkat's life in danger should it deport him to Algeria, which has a poor human rights record and where anti-government protests have been held regularly over the last year.
Justin Mohamed, human rights law and policy campaigner at Amnesty International Canada, said the group is concerned Harkat would not have access to a fair trial and could be tortured in Algeria.
"The nature of the Canadian allegations against him would render him subject to an unfair trial in Algeria," Mohamed told Al Jazeera.
"Amnesty International is very concerned that the Algerian authorities don't comply with the international legal obligations concerning the prohibition of torture."
For her part, Harkat's wife, Sophie, said it has been "extremely frustrating because the minister just has to sign a piece of paper and we can just move on with our lives".
She said she prefers not to think about the possibility that her husband could be sent to Algeria.
"Mo lives with that cloud every day over his head - constant. And he still has nightmares about it. I'm somewhat in denial; I don't want to discuss this," she told Al Jazeera. "If the government sends him back, they'll have blood on their hands."
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News
VIDEO: Santa Claus visits the Public Safety Canada office
Source: Press release
Date: December 10, 2019
For immediate release
On this International Human Rights Day, the Liberal Government Must Stop Mohamed
Harkat’s Deportation to Torture
Dec. 10, 2019, OTTAWA – The Liberal government must live up to its word to end all complicity in torture, starting by putting an end to the deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat, writes a group of leading human rights and civil society organizations in a new letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
The letter is co-signed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Amnesty International Canada, and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Nineteen other organizations and individuals from across the country have endorsed the letter. The letter is available online at:
December 10 is International Human Rights Day. This year marks the 17th anniversary of Mr. Harkat
being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously
undermined his fundamental rights. He is currently facing deportation to Algeria, where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.
All of this is despite Mr. Harkat never being charged with, let alone convicted of a crime since arriving in Canada in 1995.
The groups are calling on Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair to use powers granted to him under
section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow Mr. Harkat, who Canada
recognizes as a refugee, to remain in Canada. They are also asking for an end to the security certificate regime overall.
“Allowing Mr. Harkat to remain in Canada would send a clear message, at the very start of this new parliament, that defending human rights and eliminating mistreatment and torture go hand in hand with protecting the safety of people in Canada,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG. “It is beyond cruel irony that Mohamed Harkat’s journey through so many years of injustice began on International Human Rights Day. As he marks the 17th anniversary of being subject to an immigration security certificate and facing the prospect of deportation to human rights violations, it is time – far past time – for the government to relent, lift the certificate, and let Mohamed get on with his life in Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada.
“It is disgraceful that Mohamed Harkat has been under a security certificate for close to two decades. No one in Canada should be subject to what he has had to go through. When one of us can be detained without the kind of trial any Canadian would receive for 17 years, it affects our entire conception of our rights and freedoms,” said Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director of the NCCM.
Tim McSorley, ICLMG
national.coordination AT iclmg.ca
Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada
(613) 744-7667 ext 236
lscholey AT amnesty.ca
Open Letter to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair
The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P. Minister of Public Safety 269 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Canada K1A 0P8
Dear Minister Blair,
Today is December 10, International Human Rights Day. Ironically, it also marks the 17 th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously undermined his fundamental rights.
We believe it is urgent that you act on Mr. Harkat’s case. Having been recognized as a refugee in Canada, Mr. Harkat has lived here for 24 years without ever being charged or convicted of a crime. Yet, because of the security certificate based on secretive information of questionable origin, Mr. Harkat continues to face deportation to Algeria where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.
Our organizations have long decried the use of security certificates, which undermine the rights of the targeted individual by allowing information not normally considered “evidence” to be used against them, and preventing them or their counsel from accessing the whole case brought against them – essentially eliminating any hope of mounting an adequate and full defense.
We believe that security certificates should ultimately be eradicated from Canada’s legal system, and that instead the government should focus on prosecutions under the Criminal Code, which would serve to protect the rights of the accused as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international covenants, and in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Despite this, security certificates were in fact significantly worsened through changes brought about with the adoption of the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Disappointingly, your government declined to address these issues in the recently passed National Security Act, 2017.
More immediately, we are writing because, as the new Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Harkat’s fate is in your hands. Under section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister of Public Safety is granted the power to allow Mr. Harkat to stay in Canada where it is not contrary to the national interest. The courts have consistently relaxed Mr. Harkat’s bail conditions over the years, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service did not deem it necessary to file a risk assessment at Mr. Harkat’s bail hearing in the fall of 2017. As his work colleagues and supporters have attested, and as court assessments and psychiatrists have demonstrated, Mr. Harkat is committed to leading a peaceful life and letting him stay would not be contrary to Canada’s interests. Moreover, deporting a man to a risk of imprisonment and torture is clearly against Canada’s national interest, as well as its international obligations.
We have closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002. Under the very problematic security certificate regime, Mr. Harkat was imprisoned in maximum security for 43 months, spent years under house arrest, and faced some of the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history. The original “evidence” against Mr. Harkat was destroyed and the allegations against him are based on the testimony of an informant who failed a lie detector test and was never cross-examined in court. Mr. Harkat has never been charged with, let alone convicted, of a crime.
Life under a security certificate has also had a profoundly negative impact on Mr. Harkat’s well-being. His arrest and time in solitary confinement, the severe conditions of his release and the threat of deportation to torture have resulted in chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. Sophie Lamarche-Harkat, Mr. Harkat’s wife, has also spoken of the stress upon her, their household and their family of living with constant Canada Border Services Agency surveillance and the threat of losing a loved one. Throughout all this, Mr. Harkat has gained a community that cares about him deeply. For them, he is simply “Moe,” a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. They have been living in constant fear since deportation proceedings began four years ago.
Beyond the current impacts of living under a security certificate on Mr. Harkat’s well-being, he faces a credible threat of imprisonment, abuse and torture if, as your government is seeking, he is deported to Algeria.
Amnesty International has noted that the Algerian Code of Criminal Procedure allows those charged under anti-terrorism laws to be detained for up to 12 days without access to legal counsel or charge, and does not prohibit the use of confessions obtained under torture. Amnesty International has also reported on a case as recent as 2018, wherein a journalist was reportedly beaten and waterboarded, held in solitary confinement for over one month.
It is also important to note that courts in other countries, such as the UK in 2016 and Ireland in 2017, have recognized these concerns and barred their governments from deporting individuals to Algeria as the individuals concerned faced a substantial risk of torture.
On October 26, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau clearly stated: “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 responsibility taken.”
Consequently, we urge you, Minister Blair, to use this unique position and the discretion afforded under the law to exempt Mr. Harkat from deportation, end this 17-year ordeal and allow him to stay with his wife and community in Canada. Doing so would send a clear message, at the very start of your mandate, that defending human rights and eliminating mistreatment and torture go hand in hand with protecting the safety of people in Canada. It would also ensure that Canada upholds its commitments as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. We do not want this government, or its successors, to have to once again apologize and pay compensation because your government refused to take the right action today.
We would appreciate a timely response to our letter, and if you would like more information or have any questions, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss it further.
Sincerely, Tim McSorley National Coordinator International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Alex Neve Secretary-General Amnesty International Canada
Mustafa Farooq Executive Director National Council of Canadian Muslims
Endorsed by: • Canadian Arab Federation • Canadian Association of University Teachers • Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson 3Canadian Federation of Students • Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice • Canadian Union of Postal Workers • Council of Canadians • Fred Hahn, President CUPE Ontario • Corey Balsam, National Coordinator Independent Jewish Voices – Canada • Inter Pares • Gail Davidson, Executive Director Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada • Monia Mazigh • National Union of Public and General Employees • NoWar-Paix • Ottawa Raging Grannies • Peggy Mason, President Rideau Institute on International Affairs • Sharry Aiken, Associate Professor Faculty of Law Queen’s University • Socialist Action • Matthew Behrens, Coordinator Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture • Vancouver and District Labour Council
By: Dylan Penner
Source: The Council of Canadians
Date: May 15, 2019
The Council of Canadians has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale [PDF file] calling for the immediate end to deportation proceedings against UN Convention refugee Mohamed Harkat.
Harkat has been subjected to a Security Certificate since 2002. After three and a half years in solitary confinement, Harkat was released under the strictest conditions in Canadian history. Now he is facing possible deportation to torture.
As we write in the letter, “We are deeply concerned that Immigration Canada is making a concerted effort to deport Mohamed Harkat. If deported to Algeria under a controversial Security Certificate, Mr. Harkat will likely be subjected to torture and his life will be at risk.”
The deeply undemocratic practice of Security Certificates is based on hearsay, innuendo, and secret information. Harkat should be allowed to remain in Canada, not deported to likely torture.
Canadian and international law is clear that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty and have the right to a fair trial. Mohamed Harkat has not had anything resembling a trial at all, let alone a fair one, and is presumed guilty based on information obtained through torture, the originals of which have since been destroyed.
For many years, the Council has supported efforts to end this injustice and to let Mr. Harkat stay in Canada. It’s time to uphold the findings of the Arar and Iacobucci inquiries and to end this ongoing human rights violation.
The Council of Canadians unequivocally opposes the secret trials, deportation to torture, and a two-tiered justice system, which Security Certificates represent. Security Certificates are steeped in racism, targeting Arab and Muslim men. That Security Certificates are allowed to continue sends a very worrying message to the rest of world about where Canada stands on human rights and international law.
This must come to an end. It’s time to stop the deportation of Mohamed Harkat and abolish Security Certificates.
Take action now to help end this injustice: Write to your MP and Prime Minister Trudeau and sign the petition to stop Mohamed Harkat’s deportation.
Dylan Penner's blog
Will We Allow Canada To Deport Mohamed Harkat To Torture?
by Tim Mcsorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, writer and activist in Ottawa
Source: Huffington Post
Date: December 10, 2018
The refugee faces national security allegations despite never having been charged or convicted of a crime.
Co-authored with my colleague, Anne Dagenais Guertin
This is a story about a man who came to Canada as a refugee out of fear of persecution in his home country. Shortly after arriving, though, he was jailed without charge based on accusations from a secret informant who failed a lie-detector test and whom the judge refused to make available for cross-examination.
After his arrest, the government proceeded to destroy the original "evidence" against him. Only a summary was given to a special, security-cleared lawyer, who wasn't allowed to discuss the evidence with the person in question. The process that followed was so skewed that the courts were allowed to make their decisions based on information not normally admissible in a court of law.
It doesn't end there. Over the next 16 years, this person faced constant monitoring and harassment by government officials, three-and-a-half years of detention, including one in solitary confinement, and years of house arrest but has never event been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.
On top of all this, he is now facing deportation to torture because he is not a Canadian citizen.
After hearing this story, would you think it unfair? That it is shocking that this could happen in Canada? Would you believe this needs to stop — and should never have happened in the first place?
What if we told you the person we are talking about is a Muslim man named Mohamed Harkat, who Canada is attempting to deport based on secret, unproven national security allegations? Would that change your answers to the questions above?
Who Is Mohamed Harkat?
by Monia Mazigh
Date: November 9, 2018
I first heard about the case of Mohamed Harkat in December 2002. It was a dark time for me and my family. My husband, Maher Arar, was detained in Syria; I had become a single mother with two young children, living on social assistance. The whole world was swept with anti-terrorism policies: if you were an Arab Muslim man, you would be at high risk of racial profiling, interrogation and eventually deportation to torture.
I learned about the case of Mohamed Harkat when I saw his wife, Sophie Harkat, on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, making an emotional plea for the release of her husband. I immediately felt a sense of sympathy for her. I felt we were fighting a similar battle. We were two women caught in the legal aftermath of 9/11, trying to bring justice to their loved ones, but surrounded by a wave of suspicion and a climate of fear.
Mohamed Harkat was arrested in front of his home in Ottawa under a security certificate. At the time, very few Canadians would have known about the controversial procedure that allows two cabinet ministers to sign a certificate ordering the deportation of a refugee or permanent resident out of Canada. This measure existed before the events of 9/11 and before the new national security legislation that followed. Nevertheless after 9/11, it became the tool par excellence to order the deportation of those deemed "dangerous" terrorists or sleeper agents. The security certificate is supposed to offer ministers a speedy way to order the deportation of an alleged terrorist. However, since 2002, these measures have been proven -- through several court decisions and long public campaigns -- problematic at many levels.
Mohamed Harkat's case proved that as well. After his arrest, he was detained for a year in solitary confinement, then transferred to "Guantanamo North," the Millhaven prison built at the exorbitant cost of $3.2 million specifically to house Arab Muslim men detained under security certificates. When Harkat was released from prison, he was put under house arrest with conditions considered to be the strictest in Canadian history. As Sophie Harkat mentioned in public speaking appearances, during this time she became her own husband's de facto jailer, responsible for making sure he didn't use the internet or drive outside the designated perimeter without the knowledge of Canada Border Services agents.
After 16 long years fighting his security certificate, today Mohamed Harkat is still threatened with deportation to his native Algeria. The secret evidence that led to his arrest has been destroyed by Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the informants used in this case were never cross-examined, and we learned through court proceedings that some of that "evidence" was collected through a suspect named Abu Zubeydah, who is still detained in Guantanamo Bay and who was waterboarded 83 times and subjected to torture such as sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and confinement in small dark boxes.
Mohamed Harkat escaped Algeria in 1990, at the start of the civil war that ravaged his country of birth for over a decade. He left to live in Pakistan and later came to Canada as a refugee claimant fearing for his life if he returned to Algeria. His arrest and subsequent imprisonment and treatment in Canada make him a perfect candidate for immediate arrest and detention in Algeria if deported there by the Canadian government.
According to Amnesty International, Algerian authorities "took no steps to open investigations and counter the impunity for grave human rights abuses and possible crimes against humanity, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of torture committed by security forces and armed groups in the 1990s during Algeria's internal conflict, which left an estimated 200,000 people killed or forcibly disappeared."
So why does the Canadian government want to send Mohamed Harkat back to Algeria? Do they want to turn him into another "disappeared" man?
After the Supreme Court of Canada deemed security certificates unconstitutional in 2007, Canada's new security certificate legislation was modelled on the British system. Two years ago, the British government was barred from deporting six Algerian men suspected of having links with Al-Qaida to Algeria over concerns of torture.
Despite what British government lawyers qualified as "agreements with Algeria against torture," the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that "potential future political instability in the country could undermine the assurances' longevity."
Why is Canada following the British model for security certificates yet turning a blind eye to decisions coming from that country -- decisions that would help keep Mohamed Harkat in Canada, away from torture?
Prime Minister Trudeau and his government are under a lot of pressure from the Conservatives, who are trying to paint them as soft on terrorism. This is not new. The Conservative government has taken a hard line on terrorism -- and anyone suspected of having links to it -- in the past. They did it when they passed sweeping anti-terrorism legislation in 2015, they did it when they refused to repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo, and they do it today on the issue of the return of Canadians who travelled overseas to fight in Syria. History has proven them wrong. Prime Minister Trudeau shouldn't bow to this political pressure. Mohamed Harkat has suffered enough. His place is in Canada. He should never be deported to torture.
Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a PhD in finance from McGill University. In 2008, she published a memoir, Hope and Despair, about her pursuit of justice, and recently, a novel about Muslim women, Mirrors and Mirages. You can follow her on Twitter @MoniaMazigh or on her blog www.moniamazigh.com
The Government Must Stop The Deportation Of Mohamed Harkat
June 26 will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Today, though, there will be a rally at the Prime Minister's Office to once again call on the Canadian government to meet its commitments to counter torture in all its forms, including deporting innocent people to imprisonment and torture abroad.
In December 2002, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested in Ottawa by Canadian authorities and placed under a security certificate for alleged links to terrorism. For a decade and a half, he has lived a Kafkaesque experience of never once being charged with a crime but being imprisoned for 43 months in a maximum-security prison, put under house arrest and placed under some of the most severe bail conditions in Canadian history. He continues to face strict bail conditions today.
Despite never facing trial, never seeing the full evidence used against him and never even formally being accused of a crime, Canada continues to threaten Harkat — a United Nations Convention refugee — with deportation to Algeria, where he will be imprisoned and will very likely face torture.
Today, Harkat's fate lies with the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. Harkat could be deported to torture or he could be granted the status to continue to live a peaceful life in Ottawa with his wife, Sophie Lamarche, and his family and friends.
For them, he is simply "Moe," a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. But Moe, Sophie and their friends and family have been living in constant fear since the deportation proceedings against him were started three years ago, in 2015.
Since 2009, all of the assessments conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) as well as esteemed psychiatristsconcluded unequivocally that Harkat poses a very low risk to Canada, placing him at lowest level of risk on the scale.
The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) has closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002, working with the Justice for Mohamed Harkat campaign. In 2013, ICLMG obtained intervener status in the Supreme Court case opposing Harkat to the Canadian government.
Today, as we have done for the last 15 years, we oppose the highly problematic use of secret intelligence in these cases and the lack of access to the "evidence" against the suspects, which makes it impossible for those accused to mount a defence.
The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada
In October 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly stated, "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 responsibility taken."
The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada by immediately ending the deportation proceedings and lifting the security certificate that has dogged Harkat and his loved ones for more than 15 years.
The toll of just the security certificate and its draconian rules approach what many would deem "cruel and unusual punishment." Sophie herself has described the "psychological torture" that they have gone through, including: being constantly followed by CBSA agents, restricting Harkat from taking on any employment that requires a cell phone or a computer, driving across provincial lines, unannounced visits and arbitrary house searches, and contradictory instructions from CBSA that cause further confusion and stress around following bail conditions.
What the government has put Harkat through has had a significant impact on his physical and mental health. Last year, the clinical director of the Integrated Forensic Program at the Royal Ottawa Health produced a report on Harkat based on 112 evaluation sessions going back to 2009, as well as additional interviews dating back to 2005, which found that he has a "history of chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress related to having been incarcerated."
It goes on to describe how "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."
After living this dreadful experience for 16 years, Harkat deserves to go on with his life. The Canadian government has the power to make that happen today.
More from HuffPost Canada:
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]
* * * * * *
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
* * * * * *
Christian Legeais, spokesperson and bilingual media contact: