Lawyers for Harkat argue revised security certificate law still leaves defendants in the dark

posted on January 21, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Andrew Duffy
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
URL: [link]
Date: January 20, 2012

OTTAWA — Lawyers for Ottawa’s Mohamed Harkat have asked the Federal Court of Appeal to strike down the country’s security certificate law for a second time.

The Harkat case will be the first to test whether the government’s revised security certificate law can withstand a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The previous version of the law, used to deport foreign-born terror suspects, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in February 2007.

In that ruling, Canada’s high court said the security certificate process was so secretive that it denied defendants the fundamental right to meet the case against them.

The government subsequently introduced a new law, which gave terror suspects the right to be represented in secret hearings by “special advocates” — defence lawyers with security clearance. Special advocates are allowed only limited contact with the accused.

Harkat’s legal team contends the new law still leaves defendants too much in the dark.

“The only evidence that truly matters is unknown to him (Harkat),” wrote lawyers Matthew Webber and Norm Boxall in a court brief.

“It is apparent that public proceedings are little more than a façade, with little to no direct evidence shown to Harkat.”

For example, they said, the federal government publicly alleged that Harkat spent time in Afghanistan. But the Algerian-born Harkat was told nothing about the timing, duration, purpose or destination of the alleged sojourn, which made it next to impossible to refute.

It is not enough, the lawyers argued, for the government to offer the “veneer of public disclosure” when it is only through detail that Harkat can attack the validity of such allegations.

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More photos from December 10th Rally in Ottawa

posted on December 29, 2011 | in Category Website-Related | PermaLink

Here are a few more photos from our recent rally at the Human Rights monument in Ottawa. Thank you Terry Stanvyck for sharing your pics. Rally in Ottawa, Dec 10
Sophie and Mohamed Harkat listen to one of the speakers at the Rally CAIR-CAN's Ihsaan Gardee. Photo by Terry Stanvyck.

Rally in Ottawa, Dec 10
Mohamed Harkat was the last speaker. In a symbolic gesture of solidarity his supporters joined him on stage and stood behind him. Photo by Terry Stanvyck.

Click here to see all of Terry's photos from the Rally.

Taking Liberties: Canada's secret trial cases built on torture

posted on December 22, 2011 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Matthew Behrens
Date: December 21, 2011

Four years after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously found them unconstitutional, secret hearing "security certificates" are still in use, with a number of Muslim men fighting unseen allegations while under threat of deportation to torture.

Security certificates have long been used by Canada's scandal-plagued spy agency CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) to tar refugees and permanent residents as national security threats without having to explain the allegations against them. Those detained under the process are never charged, and subjected to lower standards than those applying to any citizen facing similar accusations. Indeed, the law governing the procedure allows for the introduction of any piece of information "even if it is inadmissible in a court of law."

For the past decade, five Muslim men -- dubbed the Secret Trial Five -- have endured this Kafkaesque process both behind bars and under humiliating house arrest. Last month, the release of two formerly classified documents indicates that the national security secrecy claims that form the bedrock of these cases have in fact served as a cover for illegal and unethical acts by CSIS.

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VIDEO of Saturday's Rally

posted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Thank you, Tyrone (OttawaFRO), for filming and uploading to YouTube this video footage from Saturday's Rally in Ottawa on International Human rights day.. Mo himself was at the event and made an emotional speech which you can watch in Part 7. Thanks to all who attended.Keep fighting! Keep agitating! Part 1
Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

Security certificate injustice for Mohamed Harkat: Nine years on

posted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Justice For Mohamed Harkat Committee
URL: [link]
Date: December 9, 2011

Think back to December 10, 2002 -- nine years ago this weekend, International Human Rights Day.

Perhaps on that day you were aware of the human rights significance, and perhaps not. But more importantly, what were you doing with your life back then? Were you in a different job? A different city? Perhaps in the interim you earned a post-secondary degree or diploma, or possibly more than one. How many job interviews did you attend in those nine years? How much money have you earned? Did you have children? Did you visit relatives in another province? Perhaps take a honeymoon? Travel abroad?

None of these things have been possible for Mohamed Harkat. This weekend -- International Human Rights Day -- marks the ninth anniversary of the detention of Mohamed Harkat under a security certificate -- a draconian detention under the so-called Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act for which no charge is laid, and the information on which the allegation is based is kept secret from the detainee and their lawyers.

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Photos of Saturday's Rally

posted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Click on the photo to see all the photos from our December 10th rally marking Moe's 9th anniversary of his security certificate: Mohamed Harkat
Mohamed Harkat speaking to supporters in Ottawa, December 10, 2011. Photo by Gabrielle Brunette Poirier.

Harkat anniversary rally draws dozens

posted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by Danielle Bell Source: The Ottawa Sun URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2011 See also this VIDEO report of the Rally. By Danielle Bell. Even though courts recently ruled Mohamed Harkat does have ties to terrorism, his supporters are protesting his treatment on the 9th anniversary of his charges. Dozens of people gathered at the human rights monument in downtown Ottawa on Saturday to support Harket. Harkat, an accused al-Qaida sleeper agent who has been fighting to stay in Canada since he was arrested on a federal security certificate, declared his innocence to a throng of supporters and media. Flanked by wife Sophie, Harkat said the conditions he is forced to live with have taken a toll on himself and family. “It’s my life destroyed completely,” said Harkat on Saturday. “I’ve never chatted to a criminal, I’ve never had a criminal record, I’ve never been involved with terrorism, I’ve never seen the evidence against me.” Among his conditions, Harkat cannot use the Internet, is monitored by GPS and cannot leave Ottawa without permission. An online petition in his support has gathered about 5,000 signatures. “It’s simply impossible for people like Mohamed Harkat to have a fair trial when secret evidence is involved,” said supporter Evert Hoogers, a retired postal worker. “None of that is acceptable to me.” Several speakers, including human rights activists, spoke at the rally, which included chants and banners in support Harkat. An unidentified man stood next to the Harkats, with his mouth duct-taped, hands bound and blindfolded. “This war on terrorism has been a direct attack on each and every human citizen’s human rights,” said Larry Rousseau, regional vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “If we sit back and do nothing, we will lose what we have acquired.” In December 2009, Harkat’s security certificate was upheld by a Federal Court Judge, who ruled the government had reasonable grounds to suspect Harkat of being a threat to Canadian public safety. Kevin Skerrett, with the Justice for Mohamed Harket committee, hopes awareness will further the cause. “I think as more people learn of the details of this, the more outraged they are,” said Skerrett. Harkat is appealing his case and looking forward to a court date in February. He said Saturday he is willing to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court. “Justice is delayed. That’s all I’m hoping for,” said Harket. “I’m innocent. That’s all I want, just an open trial like anybody else.” danielle.bell AT @DBellReporting Copyright © 2011 Sunmedia. All rights reserved.

Dozens rally to clear Mohamed Harkat's name

posted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: CTV Ottawa URL: [link] Date: December 10, 2011 An Ottawa man is still trying to clear his name after terror-related allegations surfaced nine years ago. Mohamed Harkat continued to deny allegations that he is an Al-Qaeda sleeper agent at a rally in Ottawa Saturday afternoon. Dozens of supporters gathered at the Human Rights Monument at the corner of Elgin and Lisgar to help draw attention to Harkat's goal. "I'm going to fight until my last breath to clear my name and to have an open and fair trial," said Harkat. Harkat says he is a refugee who fled Algeria and that he would be tortured if forced to return to his homeland. The arrest took place on Dec. 10, 2002 under a Security Certificate which allows for detention without charge. A notice sent to CTV Ottawa says Harkat has never been "afforded the opportunity to counter the allegations ... because the vast majority of the crown's case remains a secret." Due to the allegations, Harkat faces deportation and continues his fight to stay in Canada. His case will be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal in February. © 2011 CTV All rights reserved.

La détention de Mohamed Harkat dénoncée à Ottawa

posted on December 10, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

par La Presse Canadienne Source: La Presse URL: [link] Date: 10 décembre 2011 Ottawa - Des membres de différents organismes de défense des droits humains, Amnistie Internationale en tête, étaient réunis à Ottawa, samedi, pour souligner le 9e anniversaire de l'arrestation de Mohamed Harkat, survenue le 10 décembre 2002. Mohamed Harkat est l'un des trois hommes encore détenus au Canada en vertu d'un certificat de sécurité. Cette procédure juridique permet de détenir une personne pour une durée indéterminée sans accusation et sans accès à la preuve. Le Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat soutient que les hommes ciblés par ces certificats n'ont jamais eu l'occasion de réfuter les allégations portées contre eux puisque le gouvernement garde presque toute la preuve secrète. Une manifestation s'est tenue samedi, à midi devant le Monument des droits humains à Ottawa. Christian Legeais, porte-parole du Comité justice pour Mohamed Harkat, fait partie de l'organisation de ce rassemblement. Il estime que la procédure appliquée contre l'accusé est inconstitutionnelle. Les manifestants ont profité de la Journée internationale des droits humains, pour dénoncer cette façon de faire, qui repose selon eux sur des documents obtenus sous la torture et dont les matériaux d'origine (notes, entrevues, transcriptions) ont été détruits. L'accusé fait également face à une menace de déportation vers l'Algérie, en vertu d'un jugement de la cour fédérale tombé en décembre 2010. Cette décision a été portée en appel et doit être entendue en février. M.Legeais se montre peu optimiste. «Il n'y a pas de fait, qu'il n'y a que des allégations, comment voulez-vous que l'on soit optimiste? Ça ne repose sur rien», estime-t-il. Assigné à résidence en juin 2006, après un emprisonnement de 43 mois, Mohamed Harkat porte encore un appareil GPS à la cheville et doit observer de nombreuses restrictions, mais clame toujours son innocence. © La Presse, ltée. Tous droits réservés.

OP-ED: A zero-tolerance policy on torture

posted on December 07, 2011 | in Category War on Terror | PermaLink

by Alex Neve
Source: The National Post
URL: [link]
Date: December 7, 2011

Canada abhors torture. We support all efforts to abolish it and to punish torturers. We insist that our policing and security agencies have nothing to do with it. That’s Canada’s public line. Yet every time we seem to reaffirm these fundamental principles, a loophole always presents itself involving the words “national security.”

The most recent disturbing example involves a 2008 memo from former CSIS director James Judd to then-minister of public safety Stockwell Day that has just come to light. In that document, Mr. Judd objected to a law-reform initiative spearheaded at the time by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh. As part of a court-ordered overhaul of the immigration security-certificate process, Mr. Dosanjh had proposed a measure to keep evidence that might have been the result of torture out of security-certificate proceedings. The amendment passed, clarifying the principle that when there are reasonable grounds to believe that information had been obtained by torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, it cannot be used.

It actually wasn’t all that ground-breaking. It essentially confirmed existing international and Canadian legal prohibitions. The UN Convention against Torture, ratified by Canada more than 25 years ago, makes it clear that the only time evidence obtained under torture can be used in court is when the torturer himself is the one on trial. But it was necessary to have the principle laid out explicitly with respect to security certificates.

But the issue keeps coming up. Yes, torture is bad. But what if it will help us catch a terrorist, crack a sleeper cell or thwart a terrorist attack? What if taking a strong stand against it makes it more difficult to co-operate with countries where torture is rampant?

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