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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the border agency is in the process of seeking a "danger opinion" as a step toward deportation.

A delegate of the immigration minister will determine whether Harkat poses a danger to national security and, if so, whether the risk to Harkat of removing him outweighs the danger or severity of the acts he allegedly committed.

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


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

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

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


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

Un texte d'Angie Bonenfant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Une déception

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

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

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

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

M. Harkat a été arrêté en 2002 à Ottawa.

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

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

Mohamed Harkat, quelques dates clés

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

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

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

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

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


Tous droits réservés © Société Radio-Canada 2018.


CSIS and the RCMP accused of neglecting far-right threat

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE...


CSIS and RCMP accused of entrapping terrorism suspects

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

READ MORE...


Torture and interrogation the CSIS and RCMP way

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

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



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

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

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

Why and how did Ghanem end up incarcerated in Algeria?

READ MORE...


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

READ MORE..


VIDEO: 15th Anniversary Press Conference

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

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


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

PHOTOS: 15th Anniversary Rally and Press conference

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

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

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

See more photos of the event.

All photos by Anne Dagenais Guertin and used with permission.

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

--Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, October 26, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two-tier justice

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

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



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