Secret Trials: Canada's worst dirty little secret?

posted on December 10, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Media release from press conference at 10 AM Dec 10th with: For Immediate Release 10 December 2004 Secret trials: Canada's worst dirty little secret? Prominent Canadians demand abolition of "security certificates

- Ed Broadbent - Member of Parliament (NDP), Past President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development - Alex Neve - Amnesty International Canada, Secretary General for English Speaking Branch - Riad Saloojee - Council for American-Islamic Relations Canada (CAIR-CAN), Executive Director - Warren Allmand - International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), former Liberal Cabinet Minister and Solicitor General of Canada - Deborah Bourque - Canadian Union of Postal Workers, President OTTAWA - The federal government must abolish security certificates, hold open trials for all detainees and not deport them, prominent Canadians demanded today in Ottawa. Across the country, people staged actions in honour of December 10th, the International Day for Human Rights, to bolster those demands. Five Muslim men have waited a combined total of over 174 months in Canadian jail cells without bail, charges or evidence that even their lawyers can't access. All face the risk of deportation into torture. "The security certificate process does not conform to a number of essential international legal standards," said Alex Neve, General Secretary of Amnesty International Canada (English-speaking branch). "Justice and security will prevail only when we disallow violations of fundamental human rights such as arbitrary detention and torture, and instead institute fair proceedings. But the security certificate denies both justice and security." Supporters of Mohamed Harkat and the four other Muslim men being held on security certificates released a statement signed by over 300 groups and individuals sharing Neve's concerns. Notable signatories include NDP leader Jack Layton, singer Bruce Cockburn, film-maker Denys Arcand and former Progressive Conservative MP Flora MacDonald, all of whom share strong concerns about the weakening of fundamental human rights in Canada in the name of the "war on terror". Organizational supporters include the Law Union of Ontario, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, labour unions, Amnesty International and nineteen other human rights organizations. "These secret trials may be Canada's worst dirty little secret," said Deborah Bourque, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. "This security legislation clearly comes from a fear-based government agenda that gives police and courts more power while integrating Canadian and U.S. policies on immigration." Riad Saloojee, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, spoke of the fear that the detentions have evoked in the Arab and Muslim communities. "For many Canadian Muslims and Arabs, security certificates embody an arbitrary and non-transparent legal process that they never expected to find in a democratic country they now call home," said Saloojee. "Muslims and Arabs have unfortunately been the most common casualties under this deeply flawed process." Today's day of action against secret trials sees events and actions happening in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, among other cities. The Muslim men being held are: Hassan Almrei, Syrian, held since October 20, 2001; Adil Charkaoui, Moroccan, held since May, 2003; Mohamed Harkat, Algerian, held since December 10, 2002; Mahmoud Jaballah, Egyptian, held for 9 months in 1999, cleared of allegations, held again since August 2001; Mohammad Mahjoub, Egyptian, held since June, 2000. A sixth man, Ernst Zundel, a German, has been held since February 2003. Contacts: Jessica Squires, Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee: (819) 328-5831 Christian Legeais, Comite Justice pour Mohamed Harkat: (613) 276-9102 or Sophie Harkat: (613) 820-1550

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Emotional day for Harkat's supporters

posted on December 10, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Tobi Cohen Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2004 Public portion of hearing ends

Tears and hugs filled a federal courtroom where the public portion of accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat's security certificate hearing wrapped up yesterday -- just one day shy of the second anniversary of his arrest. Today also happens to be National Human Rights Day -- an irony his wife Sophie couldn't help but point out. "It's the conclusion of two years' worth of stress and work and this is the big decision now," Sophie sobbed just before leaving the courthouse. The ruling's "not appealable, so today I give my husband a hug and we don't know if it's going to be a victory hug ... or if it's going to be a goodbye hug, so it's really a sad moment."

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Federal Court OKs security certificates

posted on December 10, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: Canadian Press (CP)
Source: The Montreal Gazette
URL: [link]
Date: December 10, 2004

OTTAWA -- Security certificates used to detain suspected terrorists like Adil Charkaoui are constitutional, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

The three-judge panel upheld the December 2003 decision of Federal Court Justice Simon Noel who said sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are constitutional.

Charkaoui, 31, has been jailed since May 2003 and has lost three bids for bail.

His lawyers appealed the lower court ruling, arguing among other things that Noel didn't have the jurisdiction to determine the constitutional questions.

"But the appellant has been unable to demonstrate that the procedure for reviewing the reasonableness of the security certificate issued against not meet the requirements of the Charter...," concluded the Court of Appeal in an 89-page ruling.

Authorities want the landed immigrant deported to his native Morocco. His supporters say he faces torture upon his return.

The Canadian government has accused Charkaoui of being a so-called sleeper agent for terrorist group al-Qaida.

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No proof informant was tortured in Harkat case, federal lawyer says

posted on December 09, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: The Ottawa Citizen Date: December 9, 2004 " Mr. Mathieson suggested the assertions of journalists and 'biased' human rights lawyers do not amount to proof in a courtroom. 'If this were Starbucks,' he told Justice Eleanor Dawson, 'and you ordered a latte, it would be all froth and no caffeine. There is nothing there.' "

Mathieson's choice of the latte analogy speaks volumes about this man's true concerns. And about his humanity. Does he not appreciate the gravity of Mo's situation? At a time when evidence of torture by the U.S. military is mounting Mathieson's position that reports of Zubayda's torture cannot be believed is bizarre. The full Andrew Duffy report is here: [link]

Federal lawyer fears security case backlog

posted on December 09, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: N/A Date: December 8, 2004 Charter shouldn't be used to delay proceedings to deport terror suspects, court is told

A federal lawyer warned yesterday that national security cases will get bogged down by Charter challenges if Federal Court judges decide they have the power to address constitutional questions. Donald MacIntosh said Parliament devised an expeditious process to remove foreign nationals who threaten national security. The security certificate process set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows the government to detain and deport terrorist suspects based, in part, on evidence that remains secret. Allowing accused terrorists to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge decisions made by Federal Court judges -- they assess the reasonableness of security certificates -- would lead to long, complex cases, Mr. MacIntosh said. "Charter arguments tend to be complex and protracted affairs," he said, "and it would defeat Parliament's intent that such matters be dealt with in an expeditious fashion."

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Harkat's rights breached: Lawyer

posted on December 08, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Tobi Cohen
Source: The Ottawa Sun
URL: [link]
Date: December 8, 2004

The lawyer for accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat yesterday laid the groundwork for an appeal, arguing the entire security certificate hearing violates Harkat's constitutional rights. While the constitutionality question has been tried and defeated in similar cases, Harkat's lawyer, Paul Copeland, said that even though he "can't win at this level," he had to make the argument so he could take it to the next level.

With the case of Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal man also accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, appealed as recently as Nov. 8, lawyers on both sides of the Harkat case expressed hope that Federal Court Justice Eleanor Dawson would hold off on her verdict until the Charkaoui case is decided.

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Harkat evidence slammed

posted on December 07, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Tobi Cohen Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: [link] Date: December 7, 2004 Defence, government clash over credibility of witnesses as terror suspect's hearing resumes

LAWYERS took shots at the credibility of each other's evidence yesterday as the security certificate hearing for suspected terrorist Mohamed Harkat reconvened after a hiatus of more than a month. Harkat's lawyer, Paul Copeland, slammed evidence identifying his client as the proprietor of a Pakistani guest house for mujahedeen fighters traveling to Chechnya in the mid-1990s because it was obtained from top al-Qaida lieutenant Abu Zubaydah. Copeland suggested Zubaydah made the statement under torture after his capture in March 2002 and that admitting it as evidence would violate international treaty.

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CSIS selects facts to match its theories, Harkat hearing told

posted on December 07, 2004 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

From the CBC: "Marchessault claimed CSIS intelligence reports often leave out information because it doesn't fit the agency's agenda"

Mohamed's lawyer today questioned a former CSIS agent, Jean Luc Marchessault. His answers were revealing. They lend credence to the theory that when CSIS lawyers cry "national security" the security of the nation is not at all what they are trying to protect. It is the exposure of their own incompetence and wrongdoing that is being safe-guarded. Full CBC news item here: [link]

CSIS pays some informants, court told

posted on December 07, 2004 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

Original author: Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: December 7,2004 CSIS

Harkat's lawyer obtains information despite government's objections

The question of whether Canada's spy agency pays its sources for information led federal lawyers yesterday to suggest the answer to that question could imperil national security. A former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent, Jean-Luc Marchessault, was asked the question as the lawyer for accused terrorist Mohamed Harkat sought to understand what motivates CSIS informants. CSIS is accusing Mr. Harkat of being an al-Qaeda operative, in part on the strength of unnamed sources. Before Mr. Marchessault could answer, however, a federal lawyer interjected, reminding Justice Eleanor Dawson of her duty to protect national security. James Mathieson suggested she should consider closing the court to the public in order to hear Mr. Marchessault's answer. That answer, he argued, falls within the ambit of the Security of Information Act, which became law in late 2001. The law makes it an offence to disclose any information about how the government uses, collects, deciphers, assesses, handles or reports security intelligence information. "CSIS needs to have their methodologies and operational methods protected," Mr. Mathieson said. "To reveal some would be injurious to national security." Mr. Harkat's lawyer, Paul Copeland, said the suggestion "boggled" his mind. "If it threatens our national security to find out whether or not CSIS pays its informants, then we're in real trouble in this country," he said.

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Harkat's lawyer calls law unjust, launches constitutional challenge

posted on December 06, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: December 6, 2004 Security certificate process so secretive, Ottawa man cannot defend himself further, lawyer argues

The lawyer for Ottawa's Mohamed Harkat has launched a constitutional challenge to what he calls the "fundamentally unjust" process the government is using in an effort to brand his client a terrorist threat. Paul Copeland says the security certificate process is so secretive that it denies Mr. Harkat a basic right: to respond in a meaningful way to the terrorist allegations levelled against him. In doing so, he argues, the law that gives rise to the process -- the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act -- offends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says an individual's liberty or security can only be deprived in keeping with the principles of fundamental justice.

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