Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. It is also the 14th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat's arrest on a security certificate.
At yesterday's press conference in Ottawa Amnesty International Canada secretary-general Alex Neve teamed up with International Civil Liberties Monitor Group national coordinator Tim McSorley and activists Sophie Harkat and Chantal Sunaram to mark International Human Rights Day, as well as the 14th anniversary of the security certificate-driven arrest of Mohamed Harkat.
Mohamed Harkat girds himself for another fight to stay
by Debra Black
Source: The Toronto Star
Date: August 2, 2016
Former security-certificate detainee ruled a threat for alleged Al Qaeda ties is battling deportation in the latest chapter of a 14-year saga.
PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat is pictured at his home in Ottawa. The native-born Algerian, who fled that nation amid political upheaval, arrived in Canada in 1995. He was imprisoned for 42 months in 2002 on suspicion of ties to terrorism.
Mohamed Harkat — an Algerian who says he was wrongly accused of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent — hopes he can finally win his freedom and the right to stay in Canada.
“What the government is doing is wrong, and it’s not fair,” Harkat said in an exclusive interview with the Star. “And they got the wrong guy.”
Harkat, who came to Canada in 1995 and claimed refugee status, has been fighting deportation since his arrest on a national security certificate in December 2002.
He still dreams of one day becoming a Canadian citizen, even though his life in Canada has been very different from what he’d expected.
“I thought one day I would have children, a house, a family . . . everything is destroyed. When I met Sophie, we had a plan to buy a house and have children.”
The 47-year-old Harkat says he’s innocent and will face torture and persecution in his native Algeria if he is deported.
Canada Border Services Agency did not comment on the specifics of the case, but confirmed that Harkat is under a removal order, following a Federal Court decision upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Esme Bailey, a senior media spokesperson for CBSA, added that the removal order “can only be enforced once due process under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has taken place.”
A February 2016 CBSA document — marked top secret — states that, “should Mr. Harkat be allowed to remain in Canada, it can be presumed that, given the opportunity, he would work toward the ends espoused by the Bin Laden Network.” It recommends his removal from Canada.
His lawyer, Barbara Jackman, plans to argue, in a formal petition to the public safety minister, that Harkat will face torture and persecution if sent back. She also plans to argue he is not a threat to Canada and should be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds. In early September, she will seek an exemption from deportation.
Canadian law does not allow deportation to a country where torture will occur unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“You send him back with the public profile he’s got, and it’s asking for him to be further detained and tortured,” Jackman said. “I can’t see anything exceptional about Harkat’s case that would require he be deported to torture.”
by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: April 25, 2016
[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat's defence team hopes a recent UK decision on six terror accused will help in Harkat's fight against deportation to Algeria.]
Mohamed Harkat’s defence team will use a recent British court ruling to argue that the Algerian-born terror suspect should not be deported to the turbulent North African country.
A panel of judges from the United Kingdom’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled last week that six Algerian terror suspects cannot be deported because of the “real risk” they’ll be tortured in their native country.
The judges said the situation in Algeria is unpredictable given the threat of Islamism in the region, and the frail health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika, 79, suffered a serious stroke in April 2013 and questions remain about who’s actually running the country.
The U.K. judges said Algeria’s volatility undermined the government’s argument that “diplomatic assurances” could be relied upon to protect the six terror suspects from torture if deported.
The Algerians, who live in England under strict bail conditions, have been fighting deportation for 10 years.
In Canada, the federal government continues to pursue the deportation of Ottawa’s Harkat 14 years after he was first arrested on the strength of a national security certificate.
A feature of federal immigration law, security certificates give the government the power to remove foreign-born terror suspects based, in part, on secret evidence.
Harkat’s lawyer, Barbara Jackman, said the U.K. court ruling will form part of her submission to the federal official who must now decide whether Harkat should be deported.
That official, known as a minister’s delegate, must weigh the risk that Harkat poses to Canadians against the risk that he will be tortured in Algeria.
“The U.K. judgment,” Jackman said, “appears to be solidly grounded in the framework of human rights protection obligations.”
As signatories to the UN convention against torture, Canada and the U.K. are prohibited from returning people to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture or other inhuman treatment.
The Canadian government has sought to reduce the level of risk in the Harkat case by obtaining diplomatic assurances from the Algerian government that the al-Qaida-linked terror suspect wouldn’t be mistreated.
Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said the U.K. case shows that those guarantees are not worth the paper on which they’re written. “It confirms that diplomatic assurances are not reliable — and they’re the backbone of the whole process,” she said.
Harkat intends to formally petition Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale later this year to allow him to stay in Canada. The minister has the statutory power to halt Harkat’s deportation if he finds that the action is “not contrary to the national interest.”
“This has lasted so long, we just want to put an end to this,” said Sophie Harkat. “Why do they want to go on with this process?”
Harkat, 47, has enlisted the support of dozens of high-profile Canadians, including Alexandre Trudeau, the prime minster’s brother. In a letter to Goodale, issued in Februrary, Alexandre Trudeau said he’s “absolutely convinced” that Harkat poses no danger to public safety in Canada.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government’s revised security certificate regime and affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The case against Harkat was built on 13 wiretapped phone conversations and at least two unnamed informants, one of whom failed a lie-detector test.
Harkat insists he will be tortured or killed if returned to Algeria, the country from which he fled in March 1990 during a military crackdown on government opponents.
Last week, Harkat underwent shoulder surgery to correct a longstanding injury that he suffered in a fall while delivering pizzas before his arrest in December 2002.
by "Justice for Mohamed Harkat"
Date: February 29, 2016
[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat wipes away tears during a press conference in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, that marked the 10th anniversary of his arrest and detention on a security certificate.]
It’s been a very busy few weeks for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on the immigration and foreign policy front. They’ve made some bold moves. But their work is not yet finished.
Last week, Immigration Minister John McCallum introduced a bill to reverse the previous government’s controversial two-tier citizenship law, which allowed the government to revoke the citizenship of Canadians convicted of terrorism and other offences. McCallum called it “a question of principle.”
On February 15, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion asserted the government’s intention to ask for clemency in death penalty cases abroad. Canada, he said, “must end this incoherent double standard. Canada opposes the death penalty and will ask for clemency in each and every case, no exceptions.”
On February 18, the government confirmed it was dropping the previous government’s appeal of the decision to grant bail to Omar Khadr. That same day, Immigration Minister John McCallum and Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the reinstatement of health care coverage for refugees.
And back in December, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale promised that he would review controversial directives enacted by the Harper government that allow for the sharing of security information with allies even in cases where that might lead to a suspect’s torture. Those directives were opposed by many human rights groups and described as contrary to international law and Canada’s United Nations commitments.
Bold moves, but not enough of them. Let’s get back to Mr. Dion’s comment about double standards for a moment. How can we reconcile Mr. Dion’s reasoning on the death penalty with the clear double standard involved in Ottawa’s continued attempts to deport Ottawa-based convention refugee and security certificate detainee Mohamed Harkat back to Algeria — where he faces a very real risk of torture and death?
by Zoe Chong
Source: The Carleton chapter of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)
Date: February 26, 2016
“Terrorism.” The word threw Sophie Harkat back into her chair, like a bomb emitting a shockwave through the earpiece of the phone. The impact forced out a scream of disbelief, and her concerned colleagues ran to her. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Sophie was at her shared office in the membership fundraising department at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. She’d just received a call from her husband’s immigration lawyer: He had been arrested. For suspected terrorism.
It was three weeks shy of their second wedding anniversary on Dec. 10, 2002, International Human Rights Day, when Mohamed Harkat was arrested under a security certificate—a controversial tool in Canadian immigration law, implemented in 1978, that allows the government to indefinitely detain non-citizens suspected of terrorism. A three-walled prison the government calls it—because the option to go back to your home country is always open, even if that means facing torture and even death. These individuals aren’t charged with a crime and don’t have access to any of the evidence against them. Since 1991, 27 men have been issued a security certificate. Currently, there are three men who have outstanding security certificates.
Mohamed Harkat, 47, an Algerian-native who has lived in Canada since 1995 and goes by Moe—a name well suited for the community handyman—has been living in Ottawa under this security certificate for over 13 years. Sophie has been fighting for his life ever since.
Moe was granted refugee status in 1997 after successfully claiming government persecution based on his political affiliations if he returned to Algeria, where his family still lives and he’ll likely never be able to see again. CSIS alleged that Moe was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent who attended a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and ran a guesthouse for terrorists in Pakistan, among other circumstantial evidence the government says is too dangerous to reveal.
by Rose W
Source: CKUT News Collective
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.
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.
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: