Open Letter to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blairposted on December 10, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
December 10, 2019
The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety
269 Laurier Avenue West
Dear Minister Blair,
Today is December 10, International Human Rights Day. Ironically, it also marks the 17 th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously undermined his fundamental rights.
We believe it is urgent that you act on Mr. Harkat’s case. Having been recognized as a refugee in
Canada, Mr. Harkat has lived here for 24 years without ever being charged or convicted of a crime. Yet, because of the security certificate based on secretive information of questionable origin, Mr. Harkat continues to face deportation to Algeria where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.
Our organizations have long decried the use of security certificates, which undermine the rights of the targeted individual by allowing information not normally considered “evidence” to be used against them, and preventing them or their counsel from accessing the whole case brought against them – essentially eliminating any hope of mounting an adequate and full defense.
We believe that security certificates should ultimately be eradicated from Canada’s legal system, and that instead the government should focus on prosecutions under the Criminal Code, which would serve to protect the rights of the accused as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international covenants, and in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Despite this, security certificates were in fact significantly worsened through changes brought about with the adoption of the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Disappointingly, your government declined to address these issues in the recently passed National Security Act, 2017.
More immediately, we are writing because, as the new Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Harkat’s fate is in your hands. Under section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister of Public Safety is granted the power to allow Mr. Harkat to stay in Canada where it is not contrary to the national interest. The courts have consistently relaxed Mr. Harkat’s bail conditions over the years, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service did not deem it necessary to file a risk assessment at Mr. Harkat’s bail hearing in the fall of 2017. As his work colleagues and supporters have attested, and as court assessments and psychiatrists have demonstrated, Mr. Harkat is committed to leading a peaceful life and letting him stay would not be contrary to Canada’s interests. Moreover, deporting a man to a risk of imprisonment and torture is clearly against Canada’s national interest, as well as its international
We have closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002. Under the very problematic security certificate regime, Mr. Harkat was imprisoned in maximum security for 43 months, spent years under house arrest, and faced some of the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history. The original “evidence” against Mr. Harkat was destroyed and the allegations against him are based on the testimony of an informant who failed a lie detector test and was never cross-examined in court. Mr. Harkat has never been charged with, let alone convicted, of a crime.
Life under a security certificate has also had a profoundly negative impact on Mr. Harkat’s well-being. His arrest and time in solitary confinement, the severe conditions of his release and the threat of deportation to torture have resulted in chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. Sophie Lamarche-Harkat, Mr. Harkat’s wife, has also spoken of the stress upon her, their household and their family of living with constant Canada Border Services Agency surveillance and the threat of losing a loved one. Throughout all this, Mr. Harkat has gained a community that cares about him deeply. For them, he is simply “Moe,” a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. They have been living in constant fear since deportation proceedings began four years ago.
Beyond the current impacts of living under a security certificate on Mr. Harkat’s well-being, he faces a credible threat of imprisonment, abuse and torture if, as your government is seeking, he is deported to Algeria.
Amnesty International has noted that the Algerian Code of Criminal Procedure allows those charged
under anti-terrorism laws to be detained for up to 12 days without access to legal counsel or charge, and does not prohibit the use of confessions obtained under torture. Amnesty International has also reported on a case as recent as 2018, wherein a journalist was reportedly beaten and waterboarded, held in solitary confinement for over one month.
It is also important to note that courts in other countries, such as the UK in 2016 and Ireland in 2017, have recognized these concerns and barred their governments from deporting individuals to Algeria as the individuals concerned faced a substantial risk of torture.
On October 26, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau clearly stated: “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 responsibility taken.”
Consequently, we urge you, Minister Blair, to use this unique position and the discretion afforded under the law to exempt Mr. Harkat from deportation, end this 17-year ordeal and allow him to stay with his wife and community in Canada. Doing so would send a clear message, at the very start of your mandate, that defending human rights and eliminating mistreatment and torture go hand in hand with protecting the safety of people in Canada. It would also ensure that Canada upholds its commitments as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. We do not want this government, or its successors, to have to once again apologize and pay compensation because your government refused to take the right action today.
We would appreciate a timely response to our letter, and if you would like more information or have any questions, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss it further.
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
Amnesty International Canada
National Council of Canadian Muslims
• Canadian Arab Federation
• Canadian Association of University Teachers
• Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson
3Canadian Federation of Students
• Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
• Canadian Union of Postal Workers
• Council of Canadians
• Fred Hahn, President
• Corey Balsam, National Coordinator
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
• Inter Pares
• Gail Davidson, Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
• Monia Mazigh
• National Union of Public and General Employees
• Ottawa Raging Grannies
• Peggy Mason, President
Rideau Institute on International Affairs
• Sharry Aiken, Associate Professor
Faculty of Law Queen’s University
• Socialist Action
• Matthew Behrens, Coordinator
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
• Vancouver and District Labour Council
6,043 days Fighting Deportation to Torture: Call Trudeau to Say Enough is Enoughposted on June 28, 2019 | in Category Urgent Action Required | PermaLink
Stop the deportation of Mohamed Harkatposted on May 15, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Algeria: Absurd conviction of journalist Adlène Mellah must be overturnedposted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink
Since his arrest, Adlène has been detained in solitary confinement, according to two of his lawyers. He is currently held alone in his cell and even during his courtyard breaks, he is alone apart from prison staff. Lack of meaningful contact with other detainees for at least 22 hours a day for more than 15 days constitutes prolonged solitary confinement, which amounts to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, under the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules). To protest the verdict, Mellah began a hunger strike on 26 December, the day after he was convicted. According to his lawyer Zoubida Assoul, Adlène had lost at least 14 kilograms as of 15 January. Another lawyer who visited him on 20 January told Amnesty International that after a visit from his family, Adlène had agreed to take serums containing salt and glucoses as well as vitamins. One of his lawyers also told Amnesty International that Adlène was already very weak after reporting torture during his previous imprisonment. The Gendarmerie brigade of Bab Jdid in Algiers arrested him on 22 October 2018 on charges of "blackmail" and "harm to privacy". Adlène told Amnesty International that he was beaten and waterboarded by gendarmerie officers who also placed a cloth doused in bleach into his mouth three times. A Court provisionally released him on 22 November 2018 but the authorities failed to order an investigation into his torture claims. “The Algerian authorities must immediately quash the conviction against Adlène Mellah and free him and all other peaceful protesters, human rights activists and journalists prosecuted or detained simply for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Heba Morayef. Adlène’s arrest and conviction comes as part of a broader crackdown against freedom of expression in Algeria that intensified in October 2018, when at least seven journalists and six activists were arrested and detained in connection with their journalism under penal code provisions. © 2019 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Pro-Military Media Accuses US Ambassador of Wanting to ‘Turn Algeria into Syria’posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink
Washington D.C. – In an article published on January 15, the Francophone website Algerie Patriotique accused American Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher of “plotting” with opposition parties to destabilize the current regime and “turn Algeria into a new Syria.” The article went on to question the real motives behind the American diplomat’s extensive travels around the country and the purpose of his invitations for young Algerians to “undergo” American NGO training on democracy. The pro-establishment website indicated that the ambassador held secret meetings with opposition groups to encourage them “to carry out actions of subversion.” It suggests that Washington’s top diplomat’s actions and activities are suspect and amount to “political activism” against the Algerian state. Furthermore, Algerie Patriotique accused, in the same article, Ambassador William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former US deputy secretary of state under President Obama, of conspiring with the Moroccan monarchy to subvert Algeria. However, the more troubling element in this hard-to-fact-check article is Algerie Patriotique’s comparison of Ambassador Desrocher to his predecessor, “the unmistakable Robert Ford who, in the 1990s, had turned his office of adviser to the US embassy in El-Biar into a headquarters for extremists of the FIS and the armed arm, the GIA,” according to the website. It is startling to see a pro-government media site accuse past and current American diplomats stationed in Algeria of associating with terrorist groups and plotting to change the government by force. Algerie Patriotique would never have published such an account without the direction and approval of top intelligence officers. In fact, Algeria’s notorious Military Intelligence manufactures these “type” of stories and feeds them to their social media mouthpieces. The hope is to cast doubt about the allegiance and patriotism of opposition groups fighting for democracy and human rights. In provoking Ambassador Desrocher, the Algerian government tries to portray the opposition as agents of the American government leading some activists to distance themselves from the work of Western NGOs. While Algeria is not innately anti-American, it is suspicious of the work of US pro-democracy organizations. The government fears that democracy-building activities are a threat to its rule. For some independent political observers, Ambassador Desrocher is collateral damage in the larger smear campaign directed by the military to de-legitimize members of a coalition of independent organizations fighting to stop a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Nevertheless, accusations of “acts of subversion” against US diplomats are serious and a breach in protocol. Since Algerie Patriotique conveys the position of the powerful military establishment that controls the country, the Algerian government must give some clarifications regarding the publication of such false allegations.
Algerian Politician Warns of Unprecedented Crisis in Algeriaposted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink
Source: Morocco World News
Date: January 13, 2019
Rabat – Abderrazak Makri, the leader of Algeria’s Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) political party, warned of an unprecedented crisis that Algeria may experience beginning in late 2019.
Starting from late 2019 until 2022, “we will experience unprecedented lean years. They will be difficult for Algeria and the ordinary citizen will feel the burden more than others,” Makri wrote on his Facebook page on January 11.
The politician, who is pleading for the postponement of the Algerian presidential election of April 2019, lamented that “the struggle for power and money dominates the political scene” in Algeria.
Few Algerians, according to Makri, “are worried about the economic and social risks that will make Algeria very vulnerable to regional and international threats in the short term.”
Makri warned at the end of his post, “I fear that when all Algerians recognize those who warn and advise from those who deceit and betray, it will be too late.”
A few days before Makri’s warning, a former Algerian prime minister, Ahmed Benbitour, said that Algeria is going through a deep political crisis due to the “autocratic and paternalistic” regime.
Benbitour, who is also an economist, stressed that there should be mobilization to make the current regime relinquish its hold on power and the country’s resources, to help save from political failure and economic crisis.
For Benbitour, Algeria’s “responsible elites” have to assess the situation, inform the population of the dire state of the country, and force a “peaceful” regime change.
“Our country is governed by an authoritarian, paternalistic, and patrimonialist regime that thrives on rent-seeking and economic predation,” Benbitour said Monday in Algiers at a conference on “the Mission of Elites in Saving the Country.”
“A regime change is the key to solving all of our other governance-linked issues,” he added.
Will We Allow Canada To Deport Mohamed Harkat To Torture?posted on December 11, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
Co-authored with my colleague, Anne Dagenais GuertinThis 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?
Unfounded fear and hatred of Muslims, migrants and refugees, already long-standing, became worse after Sept. 11, 2001, and are now acceptable public discourse. The examples are many: Politicians winning elections on hatred of Muslims and foreigners; fear-mongering over the refugee caravan; asylum seekers forced to cross the U.S.-Canada border because of the Safe Third Country Agreement; and the stunning increase of reported hate crimes in Canada in 2017, up 151 per cent for Muslims alone. The fear of Muslims is now so pervasive that, in 2017, a young man was convinced that committing a terrorist attack and killing six worshipers at a Quebec City Mosque would protect people... from a terrorist attack. Fear leads us to do illogical things. And it leads us to renounce long-held principles that we otherwise say define us as Canadians, including freedom of thought and religion, the prohibition of torture, the fundamental right to due process and a fair trial, and the principle of innocence until proven guilty before a court of law. Our point is that we are being duped: duped into giving up our rights and our ideals — including a more just and equal society for all, legally, economically and socially — through fear-mongering. We are being distracted by people who want to hoard more money and power for themselves by pointing the finger at people simply in search of a better life. People who come here in fear of persecution in their home country. People like Mohamed Harkat. Moe, as he is affectionately known to his family, friends and supporters (including the ICLMG, fighting alongside him for the past decade), arrived in Canada in 1995 and obtained refugee status in 1997. On Dec. 10, 2002, he was arrested outside his home in Ottawa, alleged to be a threat to national security and subjected to a security certificate. He spent years in jail despite never having been accused let alone convicted of a crime, and was released on bail in 2006 with the strictest conditions in Canadian history. He has been happily married to a French-Canadian woman for 19 years, he is a hard worker and is loved by his family, community and colleagues. Now he faces deportation to Algeria where he will be tortured. It's not a fear, it's a fact. Canada gave him refugee status in 1997 because his fear of persecution was deemed founded. Now that his name is tainted by unproven, secret national security allegations, he will be detained and tortured if he is sent back to Algeria. And we are not the only ones to acknowledge this: Germany, France, the U.K. and the Supreme Court of Ireland consider it unsafe to deport refugees to Algeria. At Moe's last bail hearing, CSIS did not file a threat assessment, and his bail conditions have been significantly lowered, including the removal of his ankle monitor, demonstrating he is no longer considered a threat. However, Moe and his wife Sophie continue to be harassed by government agents and live in fear that Moe could be deported any day. Their health and quality of life have been greatly impacted for too long. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has the power to stop Moe's deportation to torture and allow him to stay in Canada with his family and friends. He can prevent Canada from once again being complicit in torture, and he can rectify the great injustice that has been done to Moe in violation of what Canada claims to be: a country respectful of human rights and civil liberties. You can change that. Take action by sending a letter to your MP and signing the petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Goodale to stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat. It's the right thing to do. Copyright © 2018 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
Liberté, Egalité, Absurdity: French anti-terror laws are robbing people of their freedomposted on December 06, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink
Copyright © euronews 2018
Mohamed Harkat should never be deported to tortureposted on November 12, 2018 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink
High Court quashes refusal by Minister of Justice to revoke deportation of Algerianposted on November 04, 2018 | in Category International | PermaLink
A High Court judge has quashed a refusal by the Minister for Justice to revoke a deportation order against an Algerian who was said to have links to Islamic terrorism and feared torture if returned to his home country.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found that the Minister’s decision not to revoke the deportation of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was in breach of fair procedures. He said that the Minister’s decision was significantly flawed because of a failure to apply a specific legal test with regard to evidence on which the refusal was based.
The judge adjourned the matter until September when he will hear submissions on whether or not the matter should again be remitted to the Minister in full or in part. The judgment was the third occasion where the courts have ruled in favour of the man in respect of challenges brought against the refusal to revoke the order.
The Supreme Court in July 2017 quashed the Minister’s first refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in late 2016 and also remitted the man’s case to the Minister for further reconsideration.
The Supreme Court’s ruling followed an appeal against an earlier High Court decision that the Minister’s belief was lawful on the basis there were no substantial grounds of a real risk of ill-treatment if the man was deported.
Last December, Mr Justice Humphreys quashed the second refusal by the Minister to revoke the deportation order due to a failure to inform the man’s lawyers that certain information about Algeria was relied upon by the Minister when considering the application to revoke. Mr Justice Humphreys had sent the matter back for fresh consideration.
Then in February, after the case has been reconsidered, the Minister again refused to revoke the deportation order. It led to new legal argument on a breach of fair procedures and that the Minister’s decision was irrational in having failed to apply the correct legal test.
Lawyers for the State had submitted there had been significant improvements with regard to the protection of human rights in Algeria especially since 2016.
In finding that there had been a breach of fair procedures, Mr Justice Humphreys said his reasons last December for quashing the Minister’s failure to revoke the order and sending it back, had either been “misunderstood” or “simply ignored.”
“If I may be permitted to borrow from Oscar Wilde, to lose one application may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose a second on the same grounds looks like carelessness”, the judge said.
It had been alleged the man, who has been in custody since 2016, was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France and had previously used multiple identities. He had been jailed in Ireland for attempting to travel on a false passport.
The Minister issued a deportation order against the man in 2016 after gardaí informed the Department of Justice they were seriously concerned about his activities and those of his associates which, gardaí believed, were “contrary to the State’s security”.
Aged in his 50s, the man has lived in Ireland for several years and denies being involved in terrorism or in groups including al-Qaeda. He claims he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.
He claimed that during the 1990s he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences. These offences had included forming an armed terrorist group intending to spread murder, sabotage, possession of prohibited war weapons assassination and theft intending to harm the security of his home country.
He was jailed for eight years following his arrest in France in 2002 after he was found guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an act of terrorism.
© 2018 THE IRISH TIMES