by The Canadian Press
Source: The Globe & Mail
Date: May 2, 2016
Canada is prepared to join a key United Nations anti-torture agreement more than a decade after it was first passed.
The UN’s optional protocol to the convention against torture allows for the establishment of national and international systems for inspecting detention centres where torture often takes place in secrecy.
It was first approved by the world body in 2002.
Although dozens of countries have signed on, Canada has not ratified the protocol. The Harper government twice promised to do so, but never did.
The new Trudeau government will follow through, says
Chantal Gagnon, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, says the Trudeau government plans to make good on the commitment.
Copyright 2016 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Harkat buoyed by U.K. court ruling that six terror suspects can't be deported
by Andrew Duffy Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: April 25, 2016
[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat's defence team hopes a recent UK decision on six terror accused will help in Harkat's fight against deportation to Algeria.]
Mohamed Harkat’s defence team will use a recent British court ruling to argue that the Algerian-born terror suspect should not be deported to the turbulent North African country.
A panel of judges from the United Kingdom’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled last week that six Algerian terror suspects cannot be deported because of the “real risk” they’ll be tortured in their native country.
The judges said the situation in Algeria is unpredictable given the threat of Islamism in the region, and the frail health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika, 79, suffered a serious stroke in April 2013 and questions remain about who’s actually running the country.
The U.K. judges said Algeria’s volatility undermined the government’s argument that “diplomatic assurances” could be relied upon to protect the six terror suspects from torture if deported.
The Algerians, who live in England under strict bail conditions, have been fighting deportation for 10 years.
In Canada, the federal government continues to pursue the deportation of Ottawa’s Harkat 14 years after he was first arrested on the strength of a national security certificate.
A feature of federal immigration law, security certificates give the government the power to remove foreign-born terror suspects based, in part, on secret evidence.
Harkat’s lawyer, Barbara Jackman, said the U.K. court ruling will form part of her submission to the federal official who must now decide whether Harkat should be deported.
That official, known as a minister’s delegate, must weigh the risk that Harkat poses to Canadians against the risk that he will be tortured in Algeria.
“The U.K. judgment,” Jackman said, “appears to be solidly grounded in the framework of human rights protection obligations.”
As signatories to the UN convention against torture, Canada and the U.K. are prohibited from returning people to countries where they face a substantial risk of torture or other inhuman treatment.
The Canadian government has sought to reduce the level of risk in the Harkat case by obtaining diplomatic assurances from the Algerian government that the al-Qaida-linked terror suspect wouldn’t be mistreated.
Harkat’s wife, Sophie, said the U.K. case shows that those guarantees are not worth the paper on which they’re written. “It confirms that diplomatic assurances are not reliable — and they’re the backbone of the whole process,” she said.
Harkat intends to formally petition Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale later this year to allow him to stay in Canada. The minister has the statutory power to halt Harkat’s deportation if he finds that the action is “not contrary to the national interest.”
“This has lasted so long, we just want to put an end to this,” said Sophie Harkat. “Why do they want to go on with this process?”
Harkat, 47, has enlisted the support of dozens of high-profile Canadians, including Alexandre Trudeau, the prime minster’s brother. In a letter to Goodale, issued in Februrary, Alexandre Trudeau said he’s “absolutely convinced” that Harkat poses no danger to public safety in Canada.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the government’s revised security certificate regime and affirmed a decision that found Harkat to be an active member of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The case against Harkat was built on 13 wiretapped phone conversations and at least two unnamed informants, one of whom failed a lie-detector test.
Harkat insists he will be tortured or killed if returned to Algeria, the country from which he fled in March 1990 during a military crackdown on government opponents.
Last week, Harkat underwent shoulder surgery to correct a longstanding injury that he suffered in a fall while delivering pizzas before his arrest in December 2002.
by Victoria Parsons
Source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Date: April 18, 2016
Six men accused of having links to al Qaeda cannot be deported to Algeria because there is a “real risk” they would be tortured, UK judges ruled today in what marks a major defeat for the Home Office.
Judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled against Home Secretary Theresa May and found in favour of the six men who have been fighting deportation orders for 10 years.
The Home Office argued they were a national security risk to Britain, but the Siac judges agreed with the men that their human rights would be at risk if returned to Algeria.
“It is not inconceivable that these Appellants, if returned to Algeria, would be subject to ill-treatment infringing Article 3 [prohibition of torture under the European Convention on Human Rights]. There is a real risk of such a breach,” they ruled today.
The six men are living under strict bail and curfew conditions at various locations in England. The men cannot be identified for legal reasons and the Home Secretary now has 10 days to appeal today’s decision.
It is highly unusual for the Home Office to lose such appeals in Siac, which often hears evidence in secret.
The ruling was announced by the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on Twitter this morning.
by "Justice for Mohamed Harkat"
Date: February 29, 2016
[PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat wipes away tears during a press conference in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, that marked the 10th anniversary of his arrest and detention on a security certificate.]
It’s been a very busy few weeks for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on the immigration and foreign policy front. They’ve made some bold moves. But their work is not yet finished.
Last week, Immigration Minister John McCallum introduced a bill to reverse the previous government’s controversial two-tier citizenship law, which allowed the government to revoke the citizenship of Canadians convicted of terrorism and other offences. McCallum called it “a question of principle.”
On February 15, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion asserted the government’s intention to ask for clemency in death penalty cases abroad. Canada, he said, “must end this incoherent double standard. Canada opposes the death penalty and will ask for clemency in each and every case, no exceptions.”
On February 18, the government confirmed it was dropping the previous government’s appeal of the decision to grant bail to Omar Khadr. That same day, Immigration Minister John McCallum and Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the reinstatement of health care coverage for refugees.
And back in December, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale promised that he would review controversial directives enacted by the Harper government that allow for the sharing of security information with allies even in cases where that might lead to a suspect’s torture. Those directives were opposed by many human rights groups and described as contrary to international law and Canada’s United Nations commitments.
Bold moves, but not enough of them. Let’s get back to Mr. Dion’s comment about double standards for a moment. How can we reconcile Mr. Dion’s reasoning on the death penalty with the clear double standard involved in Ottawa’s continued attempts to deport Ottawa-based convention refugee and security certificate detainee Mohamed Harkat back to Algeria — where he faces a very real risk of torture and death?
by Zoe Chong
Source: The Carleton chapter of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)
Date: February 26, 2016
“Terrorism.” The word threw Sophie Harkat back into her chair, like a bomb emitting a shockwave through the earpiece of the phone. The impact forced out a scream of disbelief, and her concerned colleagues ran to her. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Sophie was at her shared office in the membership fundraising department at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. She’d just received a call from her husband’s immigration lawyer: He had been arrested. For suspected terrorism.
It was three weeks shy of their second wedding anniversary on Dec. 10, 2002, International Human Rights Day, when Mohamed Harkat was arrested under a security certificate—a controversial tool in Canadian immigration law, implemented in 1978, that allows the government to indefinitely detain non-citizens suspected of terrorism. A three-walled prison the government calls it—because the option to go back to your home country is always open, even if that means facing torture and even death. These individuals aren’t charged with a crime and don’t have access to any of the evidence against them. Since 1991, 27 men have been issued a security certificate. Currently, there are three men who have outstanding security certificates.
Mohamed Harkat, 47, an Algerian-native who has lived in Canada since 1995 and goes by Moe—a name well suited for the community handyman—has been living in Ottawa under this security certificate for over 13 years. Sophie has been fighting for his life ever since.
Moe was granted refugee status in 1997 after successfully claiming government persecution based on his political affiliations if he returned to Algeria, where his family still lives and he’ll likely never be able to see again. CSIS alleged that Moe was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent who attended a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and ran a guesthouse for terrorists in Pakistan, among other circumstantial evidence the government says is too dangerous to reveal.
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: