Statement of Support From The National Council of Canadian Muslimsposted on February 20, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink
The highly criticized process allows for secret evidence to be used to detain and deport non-citizens if they are deemed a threat to national security. If any security certificate detainee is guilty of wrong-doing, then they must be afforded the basic human right to due process; they should be able to hear and challenge the evidence against them. Deeming a detainee to be a terrorist, based on secret intelligence whose sources may be questionable, and then deporting him to face possible torture is not only inhumane, it is counter-intuitive.
We, once again, call on the federal government to report in detail on the implementation of the extensive recommendations made by Justice Dennis O’Connor in the two Arar Inquiry reports. Those recommendations call for sufficient oversight resources and mechanisms to protect essential rights and liberties and check the powers given to and wielded by our security agencies.
NCCM - National Council of Canadian Muslims | [link]
De nouveaux appuis pour Mohamed Harkatposted on February 20, 2012 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
CSIS directed to use info extracted through tortureposted on February 08, 2012 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink
OTTAWA — The federal government has directed Canada's spy agency to use information that may have been extracted through torture in cases where public safety is at stake.
The order represents a reversal of policy for the Conservative government, which once insisted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would discard information if there was any inkling it might be tainted.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has quietly told CSIS the government now expects the spy service to "make the protection of life and property its overriding priority."
A copy of the two-page December 2010 directive was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
It drew swift condemnation from Amnesty International Canada, which said information obtained under torture "has no place in the justice system, full stop."
The directive from Toews expands upon a May 2009 ministerial order that states CSIS must not knowingly rely upon information derived from torture, and have measures in place to identify such tainted information.
The latest directive says in "exceptional circumstances" where there is a threat to human life or public safety, urgency may require CSIS to "share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities, including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment."
In such rare circumstances, it may not always be possible to determine how a foreign agency obtained the information, and that ignoring such information solely because of its source would represent "an unacceptable risk to public safety."
"Therefore, in situations where a serious risk to public safety exists, and where lives may be at stake, I expect and thus direct CSIS to make the protection of life and property its overriding priority, and share the necessary information -- properly described and qualified -- with appropriate authorities."
The directive says the final decision to investigate and analyze information that may have been obtained by methods condemned by the Canadian government falls to the CSIS director or his deputy director for operations -- a decision to be made "in accordance with Canada's legal obligations."
Finally, it says the minister is to be notified "as appropriate" of a decision to use such information.
In spring 2009, a senior CSIS official ignited controversy when he told a Commons committee the spy service would overlook the origin of information if it could prevent another Air India jetliner bombing or a terrorist attack along the lines of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings in the United States.
The government quickly moved to extinguish the public flareup.
Peter Van Loan, then public safety minister, said CSIS had been clear about rejecting information extracted through coercion.
"As a practical matter, they get intelligence from all kinds of sources, a myriad of sources. An important part of their process is to try and identify how credible that is," Van Loan said at the time.
"If there's any indication, any evidence that torture may have been used, that information is discounted."
Neither the Public Safety Department nor the minister would agree to an interview Monday.
In an emailed statement, the department said the 2010 directive "provides greater clarity to CSIS" and that "all CSIS activities, including sharing information with foreign agencies, comply with Canada's laws and legal obligations."
Added Mike Patton, a spokesman for Toews: "Our government will always take action that protects the lives of Canadians."
Canadian law enforcement and security agencies should focus on getting rid of information that bears the taint of torture, not on carving out exceptions for when it can be used, said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
"The bottom line is that as long as torturers continue to find a market for the fruit of their crimes, torture will continue," he said. "Firmly rebuffing torturers when they offer up information extracted through pain and suffering is a critical plank in the wider campaign to eradicate torture once and for all."
CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti had no comment.
However, the spy agency has said previously -- including before the 2010 directive was issued -- that it would use torture-tainted material.
Canadians would not forgive the intelligence service if it completely ignored information that could have been used to investigate and prevent a terrorist attack because that tip came from a country with a suspect human rights reputation, CSIS said in 2010 briefing notes.
In addition to sharing such information with Canadian police, CSIS would pass it to relevant foreign agencies after taking steps to ensure it would be used appropriately, the notes said.
A federal inquiry by Justice Dennis O'Connor into the Maher Arar torture affair recommended in 2006 that policies include specific directions "aimed at eliminating any possible Canadian complicity in torture, avoiding the risk of other human rights abuses and ensuring accountability."
Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was jailed in Damascus in 2002-03 and tortured into giving false confessions about terrorist links.
CSIS maintains it has implemented all of O'Connor's recommendations to prevent a recurrence.
Recently it became public that former CSIS director Jim Judd balked in 2008 at a proposed legislative change that would have prevented the spy agency from using information suspected of emerging through torture.
Judd said the change could spell the end of the security certificate -- an immigration tool for deporting alleged foreign-born terrorists.
"It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the service to confirm whether information is derived from mistreatment or torture," he wrote.
© 2012 CTV All rights reserved.
[video] Secret Canadaposted on January 24, 2012 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink
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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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.