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.
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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
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Judge loosens some of terror suspect Mohamed Harkat’s release conditions
par Angie Bonenfant
Date: 24 janvier 2018
Les conditions de libération de Mohamed Harkat, soupçonné de terrorisme, sont partiellement assouplies. La Cour fédérale du Canada a levé certaines restrictions concernant la surveillance dont il fait l'objet, mais a rejeté sa demande de pouvoir se déplacer sans restriction au Canada.
Un texte d'Angie Bonenfant
Mohamed Harkat, 49 ans, fait l'objet d'un certificat de sécurité depuis 2002. Il est soupçonné d'être un agent dormant du réseau terroriste Al-Quaïda.
Il est soumis à une surveillance étroite de l'Agence des services frontaliers du Canada (ASFC). Il doit, entre autres, se rapporter aux agents du ministère toutes les deux semaines.
M. Harkat demandait à la cour de lui accorder une liberté de déplacement totale au Canada sans devoir avertir l'AFSC. Il souhaitait également se rapporter aux agents seulement une fois par mois, par téléphone.
Dans un jugement de 55 pages, obtenu par Radio-Canada, la cour fédérale a rejeté la demande de Mohamed Harkat de se déplacer partout au Canada sans restriction. Cependant, elle lui a permis de voyager n'importe où au Québec et en Ontario pour une période de 72 heures sans devoir avertir les autorités.
La cour lui accorde également la permission de se rapporter une fois par mois à l'AFSC, mais il devra le faire en personne.
En plus d'une liberté complète de déplacement au Canada, M. Harkat qui réside dans la région de l'Outaouais demandait un accès plus large à l'internet.
Présentement, M. Harkat a la permission d'utiliser à la maison un ordinateur ayant accès à internet, mais il aurait également voulu utiliser un ordinateur portable ou une tablette à l'extérieur de sa résidence.
Sa demande a été rejetée. Toutefois, la cour serait encline à lui permettre l'utilisation d'une tablette ou d'un ordinateur portable en dehors de sa maison pour des motifs d'employabilité.
L'épouse de Mohamed Harkat, Sophie, s'est dite très déçue du jugement.
« Au fil des années, mon mari a eu un comportement exemplaire. Le gouvernent n'a présenté aucune preuve prouvant la nécessité des conditions qui sont encore en place », a-t-elle déploré. « C'est une déception, mais nous n'avons pas le choix de vivre avec ça jusqu'à notre prochaine évaluation. »
Même si la juge a assoupli certaines conditions de libération, son mari aura toujours de la difficulté à se trouver un bon emploi, plaide-t-elle. Elle aurait aimé, au moins, qu'il puisse utiliser un portable à l'extérieur de la maison.
« C'est possible pour lui de se trouver un emploi même s'il n'a pas accès à un téléphone cellulaire et à l'internet, mais ça le limite énormément et ça le limite au niveau du salaire aussi », soutient-elle.
M. Harkat a été arrêté en 2002 à Ottawa.
Depuis, le gouvernement canadien cherche à le renvoyer dans son pays d'origine, l'Algérie. Les autorités croient qu'il représente une menace à la sécurité nationale.
M. Harkat nie être un agent terroriste et prétend qu'il sera torturé s'il est déporté en Algérie.
Mohamed Harkat, quelques dates clés
by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
Date: October 12, 2017
This is the fourth chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.
At around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29, at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on the outskirts of Quebec City, the mosque’s parking lot was filling up for evening prayers. The centre is housed in a modern glass and steel office building, located on the corner of a busy thoroughfare.
At 7:50, a commotion was heard outside one of the entrances to the prayer room. There, two distant cousins, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry, were the first to be shot by a gunman, who then walked inside the room and continued his killing spree. It was all over in a few minutes - with six men dead and 19 wounded.
The suspect arrested was 27-year-old Université Laval student Alexandre Bissonnette, who is alleged to have been influenced by far-right and perhaps alt-right ideas.
In the minds of some, this deadly attack raised a question: while CSIS and the RCMP have spent years and vast sums spying on (and often harassing) Muslims, environmentalists, Indigenous and social justice activists, have they been overlooking a far more dangerous threat from the extreme right? After all, prior to the attack, Bissonnette was not even on the police’s radar.
CSIS and RCMP accused of entrapping terrorism suspects
by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
Date: October 10, 2017
This is part three of a four-part series investigating institutional biases at the RCMP and CSIS in regards to intelligence-gathering.
On July 2, 2013, the RCMP held a press conference in Surrey, B.C. Standing against a bright-blue backdrop, grim-looking senior RCMP officers, dressed in full regalia, displayed photos of pressure cookers said to have contained explosives. They then solemnly announced the arrest of two people, which had occurred the previous day, for “terrorism-related activities.”
John Nuttall, 38, and his common-law wife, Amanda Korody, 29, had placed what they thought were three bombs on the grounds of the B.C. legislature in Victoria, designed to kill dozens of people. The case, which the RCMP called “Project Souvenir,” made for sensational headlines and the couple was soon labelled the “Canada Day bombers.”
In 2015, Nuttall and Korody, who live in Surrey, B.C., were convicted by a jury and facing stiff sentences. But immediately after the verdict, the couple's lawyers applied for a stay of proceedings over how the RCMP had conducted their sting operation. Before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and over weeks of hearings that stretched from the summer of 2015 until the summer of last year, the Mounties' methods of investigating Nuttall and Korody were placed under a microscope in the main courthouse in Vancouver.
Finally, when the court made its ruling a year ago, it was a stunner: the judge accused the RCMP of entrapment – of basically fabricating most of the terrorist plot.
by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
Date: September 20, 2017
This is the second chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.
On May 24, 2016, Abderrahmane Ghanem and his parents flew to Algiers, the capital of Algeria, from the Arabian Peninsula country of Oman. After landing and clearing customs, they were met at the airport’s exit by three men in civilian clothes who asked to speak to Ghanem. Privately and briefly. The former Calgary resident, a handsome 29-year-old Canadian with close-cropped dark hair, was led away. He did not return.
Ghanem was now in the hands of the DSS, Algeria’s state security agency – notorious for its use of torture and secret detention. He was about to spend more than a year in an Algerian prison, where he says he was tortured.
Why and how did Ghanem end up incarcerated in Algeria?
Is bigotry blinding CSIS and the RCMP - to disastrous effect?
by Bruce Livesey
Source: National Observer
Date: September 14, 2017
This is the first chapter in a four-part series investigating apparent institutional biases within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP.
“Rumours were spread, suggesting Emran (a CSIS analyst, who is Muslim) was a mole in the organization and not to be trusted. The comments, insults and innuendo were intentionally hurtful and designed to isolate and undermine Emran among his colleagues. This was not mere misguided office banter, but rather hatred based upon religious, ethnic, national and racial identity.” – from the lawsuit of five CSIS staffers against their employer, filed on July 13, 2017.
As John Phillips bustles into the beige-coloured boardroom clutching a thick wad of papers under his arm, he apologizes for the half-assembled state of his law firm’s new offices. Phillips is a burly 56-year-old litigator who – with his bushy, snow-white beard, suspenders and steel-rimmed eyeglasses – bears a certain resemblance to Saint Nicolas. He also wears the pleased-as-punch expression of someone who’s been taking victory laps of late.
As he plunks the documents down on the boardroom table, Phillips has good reason to be in high spirits: he’s one of Omar Khadr’s lawyers who negotiated the reported $10.5-million settlement over CSIS and the federal government’s Charter of Rights-abusing actions towards the youth, who spent 10 years in Guantánamo Bay where he was frequently and brutally tortured. This past winter, Phillips also won a $141,000-judgment against the government and two senior RCMP officers over the harassment of Mountie Peter Merrifield (the Department of Justice even agreed to fork over more than $800,000 to cover Merrifield’s legal bills).
Source: ICLMG Facebook Page
Date: December 8, 2017
ICLMG's National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, Amnesty International Canada's Program Manager, Hilary Homes, National Council of Canadian Muslims' Executive Director, Ihsaan Gardee, author and human rights activist (and wife of torture survivor Maher Arar) Monia Mazigh, and Coordinator of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture and Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada and writer, Matthew Behrens, spoke at the press conference on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.
PHOTOS: 15th Anniversary Rally and Press conference
We had a small but enthusiastic crowd outside Parliament Hill on Friday marking 15 years of Mohamed Harkat's ongoing security certificate process.
Matthew Behrens shares a quote from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mohamed Harkat and wife Sophie Harkat look on. Ottawa. December 8, 2017.
All photos by Anne Dagenais Guertin and used with permission.
I hope people remember to demand of governments - this one and all future governments - that nobody ever has their fundamental rights violated either through inaction or deliberate action by Canadian governments. 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 a responsibility taken.
--Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, October 26, 2017
Kafka's Canada at 15: The secret trials of Mohamed Harkat
by Matthew Behrens
Date: November 29, 2017
While International Human Rights Day (December 10) is an opportunity for politicians to issue self-regarding boilerplate statements about respect, dignity and freedom, for one Ottawa couple, it always arrives with a nauseating sense of irony.
It was on December 10, 2002, when Sophie Harkat received a call at work that her husband, Mohamed (Moe), had been arrested on a secret hearing security certificate. He was being held in solitary confinement as an alleged threat to state security -- without charge, without bail, and without being provided any tangible reasons why. As Kafka began his famous dystopian novel The Trial: "Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
That was certainly the case for Moe Harkat, an Algerian refugee who was indefinitely detained based on the word of a secret informant who failed a lie detector test, and who was never subjected to examination either in an open court or a closed session. Another secret informant in the case had a particularly lustful motivation to keep coming up with allegations, because he had been carrying on an affair with an agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the scandal-plagued agency that cooks up the unsubstantiated allegations in secret trial cases.
The onus in a security certificate case is on the named individual to prove that they are not the state security threat CSIS makes them out to be. How does one prove a negative when the heart of the case is heard in your absence? Whenever a lawyer trying to tackle the case asks questions, the government's witnesses, if any are produced, can claim that answering them would endanger national security. It's all done with the Federal Court of Canada's shameful judicial seal of approval, one that has condemned dozens of individuals since it began providing legal cover to the star chamber process in 1991.
Even worse, the security certificate represents the lower rung of a two-tier justice that employs the lowest standards available, while anything not normally admissible in a court of law can be used in these cases (which means one is no longer in a court of law). It only applies to refugees and permanent residents, and ultimately can result in deportation to a country where the scarlet letter of "security threat" means an immediate booking in the nearest torture centre.
The process under which Harkat was arrested on Human Rights Day in 2002 was finally declared unconstitutional in 2007, but not before he spent a harrowing 3.5 years behind bars, including at the infamous Guantanamo North facility especially built for secret trial detainees on the grounds of Kingston's Millhaven Penitentiary.
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: