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
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?
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: