by Tim Mcsorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, writer and activist in Ottawa
Source: Huffington Post
Date: December 10, 2018
The refugee faces national security allegations despite never having been charged or convicted of a crime.
Co-authored with my colleague, Anne Dagenais Guertin
This is a story about a man who came to Canada as a refugee out of fear of persecution in his home country. Shortly after arriving, though, he was jailed without charge based on accusations from a secret informant who failed a lie-detector test and whom the judge refused to make available for cross-examination.
After his arrest, the government proceeded to destroy the original "evidence" against him. Only a summary was given to a special, security-cleared lawyer, who wasn't allowed to discuss the evidence with the person in question. The process that followed was so skewed that the courts were allowed to make their decisions based on information not normally admissible in a court of law.
It doesn't end there. Over the next 16 years, this person faced constant monitoring and harassment by government officials, three-and-a-half years of detention, including one in solitary confinement, and years of house arrest but has never event been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.
On top of all this, he is now facing deportation to torture because he is not a Canadian citizen.
After hearing this story, would you think it unfair? That it is shocking that this could happen in Canada? Would you believe this needs to stop — and should never have happened in the first place?
What if we told you the person we are talking about is a Muslim man named Mohamed Harkat, who Canada is attempting to deport based on secret, unproven national security allegations? Would that change your answers to the questions above?
Who Is Mohamed Harkat?
by Eda Seyhan
Date: November 22, 2018
“We are only an hour from the sea, but I can’t take my children to the beach,” Kamel Daoudi tells me. It is the school holidays and Kamel’s wife and three young children have made the long journey across the country to visit him in an isolated town in western France, a town he cannot leave without facing arrest.
A decade ago, Kamel – a 44-year-old man originally from Algeria - was subjected to an assigned residence order, which effectively put him under indefinite house arrest. Under the measure, he is confined to a town chosen for him by the government. After being moved six times, he is now in Saint-Jean-d'Angély, separated from his family by more than 400km. He lives in a non-descript highway motel approved by the local authority, and must report to the local police station three times a day. At night, he is not allowed to leave his motel due to a curfew.
Kamel’s days are rigidly organised around his journeys to the police station and his curfew – he risks prison if he slips up. “I feel like the main character in the film Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over again,” he tells me. “Even prison is less severe than this.” And he should know.
In 2005, Kamel was convicted for a terrorism offence and sentenced to imprisonment. During his prosecution, he was stripped of his French nationality. He spent six years in prison but, despite having served his sentence, he was not allowed to walk free upon release. Instead, the French authorities ordered him to leave the country. However, due to the fact that he would face torture and ill-treatment in Algeria, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France could not send him there.
French law allows the government to impose assigned residence orders on foreign nationals who, like Kamel, cannot return to their country of nationality. And so began an ordeal that has left him languishing in a legal limbo that has rendered a normal life impossible.
Kamel is not alone in this injustice. While administrative control measures have long been used in cases of foreign nationals like Kamel, such measures have only recently become a key tool in France’s counter-terrorism arsenal. At first only available as an exceptional measure under the state of emergency, counter-terrorism control orders were brought into the ordinary legal system in October 2017.
The Minister of Interior may impose such orders: “for the sole purpose of preventing the commission of terrorist acts.” Individuals are targeted on the basis of broad and vague criteria. The person subject to the order typically does not know the evidence against them unless they appeal the order. Even if they do appeal, they do not get access to the full case against them and face further obstacles to justice.
The measures themselves confine a person to a specific town, require them to report daily to the police and, in some cases, prevent them from contacting certain individuals or visiting certain locations. Should they violate any of these conditions, they risk prison.
These measures are inherently unjust. Pre-emptive justice – penalising someone for what they might do, and not what they have done – is not justice at all.
If the authorities suspect someone of wrongdoing, they should investigate and, if there is enough evidence, prosecute them.
By concentrating power in the hands of the government - completely outside of the normal criminal justice system - administrative control measures are open to abuse and discriminatory application, including toward Muslims. By bypassing the courts, administrative measures deny people the chance to prove their innocence and permit the government to penalise individuals without having to prove their guilt.
The increased use of administrative measures in the counter-terrorism context goes beyond France and has seen an alarming increase in recent years.
Last year, the Dutch parliament passed a law allowing the government to impose control orders for national security reasons on any person they claim “can be associated with terrorist activities” or the support thereof. A bill currently going through the Swiss parliament empowers police to impose restrictions, like bans on contact with certain individuals, on “potentially dangerous persons” without having to charge them with any crime.
This law mirrors a similar expansion of powers of the German federal criminal police in May 2017. The vague nature of these preventative measures, which rely on presumptions of “dangerousness” and potential threats rather than hard evidence, coupled with persistent stereotyping of Muslims across Europe, opens the door to discrimination and abuse.
Disturbingly, these administrative orders are just part of a wider raft of anti-terror laws introduced across Europe in recent years that have had a corrosive effect on the rule of law and have undermined freedoms that we have long taken for granted.
Back in Saint-Jean-d'Angély, crammed into his motel room with his wife and children, I ask Kamel what he would do if the administrative order on him was lifted. “I’d live a normal life,” he tells me. “We made a promise with my wife that we’d go travelling, as a family. I’d arrange my days around the desires and education of my children. I’d try and make up for all the years that I’ve lost.”
Eda Seyhan is a counter-terrorism campaigner in Europe for Amnesty International
by Monia Mazigh
Date: November 9, 2018
I first heard about the case of Mohamed Harkat in December 2002. It was a dark time for me and my family. My husband, Maher Arar, was detained in Syria; I had become a single mother with two young children, living on social assistance. The whole world was swept with anti-terrorism policies: if you were an Arab Muslim man, you would be at high risk of racial profiling, interrogation and eventually deportation to torture.
I learned about the case of Mohamed Harkat when I saw his wife, Sophie Harkat, on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, making an emotional plea for the release of her husband. I immediately felt a sense of sympathy for her. I felt we were fighting a similar battle. We were two women caught in the legal aftermath of 9/11, trying to bring justice to their loved ones, but surrounded by a wave of suspicion and a climate of fear.
Mohamed Harkat was arrested in front of his home in Ottawa under a security certificate. At the time, very few Canadians would have known about the controversial procedure that allows two cabinet ministers to sign a certificate ordering the deportation of a refugee or permanent resident out of Canada. This measure existed before the events of 9/11 and before the new national security legislation that followed. Nevertheless after 9/11, it became the tool par excellence to order the deportation of those deemed "dangerous" terrorists or sleeper agents. The security certificate is supposed to offer ministers a speedy way to order the deportation of an alleged terrorist. However, since 2002, these measures have been proven -- through several court decisions and long public campaigns -- problematic at many levels.
Mohamed Harkat's case proved that as well. After his arrest, he was detained for a year in solitary confinement, then transferred to "Guantanamo North," the Millhaven prison built at the exorbitant cost of $3.2 million specifically to house Arab Muslim men detained under security certificates. When Harkat was released from prison, he was put under house arrest with conditions considered to be the strictest in Canadian history. As Sophie Harkat mentioned in public speaking appearances, during this time she became her own husband's de facto jailer, responsible for making sure he didn't use the internet or drive outside the designated perimeter without the knowledge of Canada Border Services agents.
After 16 long years fighting his security certificate, today Mohamed Harkat is still threatened with deportation to his native Algeria. The secret evidence that led to his arrest has been destroyed by Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the informants used in this case were never cross-examined, and we learned through court proceedings that some of that "evidence" was collected through a suspect named Abu Zubeydah, who is still detained in Guantanamo Bay and who was waterboarded 83 times and subjected to torture such as sleep deprivation, forced nudity, and confinement in small dark boxes.
Mohamed Harkat escaped Algeria in 1990, at the start of the civil war that ravaged his country of birth for over a decade. He left to live in Pakistan and later came to Canada as a refugee claimant fearing for his life if he returned to Algeria. His arrest and subsequent imprisonment and treatment in Canada make him a perfect candidate for immediate arrest and detention in Algeria if deported there by the Canadian government.
According to Amnesty International, Algerian authorities "took no steps to open investigations and counter the impunity for grave human rights abuses and possible crimes against humanity, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of torture committed by security forces and armed groups in the 1990s during Algeria's internal conflict, which left an estimated 200,000 people killed or forcibly disappeared."
So why does the Canadian government want to send Mohamed Harkat back to Algeria? Do they want to turn him into another "disappeared" man?
After the Supreme Court of Canada deemed security certificates unconstitutional in 2007, Canada's new security certificate legislation was modelled on the British system. Two years ago, the British government was barred from deporting six Algerian men suspected of having links with Al-Qaida to Algeria over concerns of torture.
Despite what British government lawyers qualified as "agreements with Algeria against torture," the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that "potential future political instability in the country could undermine the assurances' longevity."
Why is Canada following the British model for security certificates yet turning a blind eye to decisions coming from that country -- decisions that would help keep Mohamed Harkat in Canada, away from torture?
Prime Minister Trudeau and his government are under a lot of pressure from the Conservatives, who are trying to paint them as soft on terrorism. This is not new. The Conservative government has taken a hard line on terrorism -- and anyone suspected of having links to it -- in the past. They did it when they passed sweeping anti-terrorism legislation in 2015, they did it when they refused to repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo, and they do it today on the issue of the return of Canadians who travelled overseas to fight in Syria. History has proven them wrong. Prime Minister Trudeau shouldn't bow to this political pressure. Mohamed Harkat has suffered enough. His place is in Canada. He should never be deported to torture.
Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a PhD in finance from McGill University. In 2008, she published a memoir, Hope and Despair, about her pursuit of justice, and recently, a novel about Muslim women, Mirrors and Mirages. You can follow her on Twitter @MoniaMazigh or on her blog www.moniamazigh.com
High Court quashes refusal by Minister of Justice to revoke deportation of Algerian
June 26 will mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Today, though, there will be a rally at the Prime Minister's Office to once again call on the Canadian government to meet its commitments to counter torture in all its forms, including deporting innocent people to imprisonment and torture abroad.
In December 2002, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested in Ottawa by Canadian authorities and placed under a security certificate for alleged links to terrorism. For a decade and a half, he has lived a Kafkaesque experience of never once being charged with a crime but being imprisoned for 43 months in a maximum-security prison, put under house arrest and placed under some of the most severe bail conditions in Canadian history. He continues to face strict bail conditions today.
Despite never facing trial, never seeing the full evidence used against him and never even formally being accused of a crime, Canada continues to threaten Harkat — a United Nations Convention refugee — with deportation to Algeria, where he will be imprisoned and will very likely face torture.
Today, Harkat's fate lies with the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. Harkat could be deported to torture or he could be granted the status to continue to live a peaceful life in Ottawa with his wife, Sophie Lamarche, and his family and friends.
For them, he is simply "Moe," a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. But Moe, Sophie and their friends and family have been living in constant fear since the deportation proceedings against him were started three years ago, in 2015.
Since 2009, all of the assessments conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) as well as esteemed psychiatristsconcluded unequivocally that Harkat poses a very low risk to Canada, placing him at lowest level of risk on the scale.
The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) has closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002, working with the Justice for Mohamed Harkat campaign. In 2013, ICLMG obtained intervener status in the Supreme Court case opposing Harkat to the Canadian government.
Today, as we have done for the last 15 years, we oppose the highly problematic use of secret intelligence in these cases and the lack of access to the "evidence" against the suspects, which makes it impossible for those accused to mount a defence.
The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada
In October 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly stated, "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 responsibility taken."
The Liberal government must live up to its words and allow Harkat to stay in Canada by immediately ending the deportation proceedings and lifting the security certificate that has dogged Harkat and his loved ones for more than 15 years.
The toll of just the security certificate and its draconian rules approach what many would deem "cruel and unusual punishment." Sophie herself has described the "psychological torture" that they have gone through, including: being constantly followed by CBSA agents, restricting Harkat from taking on any employment that requires a cell phone or a computer, driving across provincial lines, unannounced visits and arbitrary house searches, and contradictory instructions from CBSA that cause further confusion and stress around following bail conditions.
What the government has put Harkat through has had a significant impact on his physical and mental health. Last year, the clinical director of the Integrated Forensic Program at the Royal Ottawa Health produced a report on Harkat based on 112 evaluation sessions going back to 2009, as well as additional interviews dating back to 2005, which found that he has a "history of chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress related to having been incarcerated."
It goes on to describe how "Mr. Harkat has experienced recurrent visions on a virtually daily basis over several months of being arrested, incarcerated, deported and tortured. Sometimes he has visions of being shot by CBSA due to a misunderstanding, minor misstep or accidental violation of his bail conditions."
After living this dreadful experience for 16 years, Harkat deserves to go on with his life. The Canadian government has the power to make that happen today.
More from HuffPost Canada:
The United Nations migration agency says Algeria has neglected more than 13,000 migrants in the Sahara Desert in the past 14 months. The migrants, who include pregnant women and children, are left without food or water and forced to walk long distances.
Algeria denies committing human rights abuses, calling the allegations a malicious campaign.
Al Jazeera's Victoria Gatenby reports (see VIDEO LINK above).
by Anne Dagenais Guertin, ICLMG
Source: International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Date: June 28, 2018
In this video of the event held in Ottawa on June 25, 2018 you will hear from the following speakers on why Canada must stop Moe's deportation now!
- Matthew Behrens, Coordinator of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture and Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
- Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
- Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre
- Jo & Ria from the Ottawa Raging Grannies, the Justice for Harkat Support Committee
- Tim McSorley, National Coordinator for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG - CSILC)
- Sophie Lamarche Harkat, Moe's wife and activist
Here is the video of the whole rally on Youtube
Thank you so much Anne for shooting and live streaming this event!
Migration policies can amount to ill-treatment and torture, UN rights expert warns
by UN Human Rights Council
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
Click on the photo of Mohamed to see all items related to him. JUNE 2017: Mohamed Harkat once again faces deportation to his native Algeria after the Supreme Court of Canada declared the federal government’s security certificate regime constitutional.
This fight is not over. The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee will re-double its efforts to see that justice is done for Mohamed Harkat and that the odious security certificate system of injustice is abolished once and for all.
Here is the contact information for Sophie Harkat.
Email Sophie: [email]
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Our Legal Team:
Barbara Jackman, Lead Public Counsel for Mohamed Harkat
Jackman, Nazami & Associates
Barristers and Solicitors
596 St. Clair Avenue West
Tel.: (416) 653-9964
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Christian Legeais, spokesperson and bilingual media contact: