Lawyers for Harkat argue revised security certificate law still leaves defendants in the darkposted on January 21, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
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 Ottawaposted on December 29, 2011 | in Category Website-Related | PermaLink
Sophie and Mohamed Harkat listen to one of the speakers at the Rally CAIR-CAN's Ihsaan Gardee. Photo by Terry Stanvyck.
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.
Taking Liberties: Canada's secret trial cases built on tortureposted on December 22, 2011 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink
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 Rallyposted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.
Security certificate injustice for Mohamed Harkat: Nine years onposted on December 12, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
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 Rallyposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Mohamed Harkat speaking to supporters in Ottawa, December 10, 2011. Photo by Gabrielle Brunette Poirier.
Harkat anniversary rally draws dozensposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Dozens rally to clear Mohamed Harkat's nameposted on December 11, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
La détention de Mohamed Harkat dénoncée à Ottawaposted on December 10, 2011 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
OP-ED: A zero-tolerance policy on tortureposted on December 07, 2011 | in Category War on Terror | PermaLink
Source: The National Post
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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