Amnesty Challenges Canada's Secret Trials, Plus Updates

posted on May 31, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

From: TASC <[email]> Subject: Amnesty Challenges Canada's Secret Trials, Plus Updates Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 An Update from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada... 1. Amnesty International Critical of Canada's Secret Trials 2. Mahjoub Back in Court May 31-June 4 in Attempt to Get Bail After 4 years in Jail Without Charge 3. Election Called in the Land of Secret Trials 4. Charkaoui Family and Friends Mark One Year of Illegal Detention1. Wednesday, May 26, 2004 -- Today, Amnesty International released its annual report, which proved critical of Canada in a number of areas, first of which was the ongoing detention of five Muslim men (The Secret Trial Five) who have been condemned to indefinite incarceration, without charge or bail on the basis of secret evidence neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see, a collective total of 139 months.

Amnesty's voice is part of a growing call to eliminate the CSIS security certificate, the basis of the secret trials which have been occurring in this country for over a decade. In recent weeks, Members of Parliament Carolyn Parrish (Liberal, Mississauga) and Alexa McDonough (NDP, Halifax) have written of their concerns to "Public Safety" Minister Anne McLellan, whose signature is required for a security certificate. A strong statement from the President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Deborah Bourque, has also been issued, and the Canadian sectuion of Amnesty International wrote a strong letter as well (available on [link])

One part of the secret trial is a determined effort by the Canadian government to deport the detainee to a country where they face a substantial likelihood of torture or execution, a clear violation of Canada's commitment to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

One such victim who has disappeared after being held over 8 years without charge in Canadian detention is Mansour Ahani, an Iranian who was sent back to Iran under the "security certificate" despite concerns raised by the UN Human Rights Committee about his eventual fate. Amnesty noted in today's report that they remain concerned that "the safety of Mansour Ahani, forcibly returned to Iran from Canada in June 2002 despite a request from the UN Human Rights Committee to suspend the deportation, had not been adequately established."


2. Mohammad Mahjoub, currently Canada's longest-serving secret trial detainee (it will be four years in June) is up in court May 31-June 4 at Federal Court, 361 Univertsity Ave., 7th Floor, 9 am each day, as his attorneys try and get him bail. Like his fellow secret trial detainees -- Adil Charkaoui, Hassan Almrei, Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohamed Harkat -- no evidence has been publicly presented to show that Mahjoub either poses a risk or has committed any act which would pose a danger either to national security or to individuals. If you can make it out to court, that would be great!


3. It will no doubt come as a surprise to the individuals detained, their friends and families, that at a time when individuals disappear from our streets and are held on secret evidence that a "democratic" election is taking place over the next month. This provides us an excellent opportunity to question candidates as to how they can justify secret trials in a so-called democracy. Keep up the pressure, it's making a difference!


4. Charkaouis mark one year of an illegal detention. Below is a beautiful account of a vigil that took place May 21, the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Adil Charkaoui. Thanks to Coalition Justice Pour Adil Charkaoui for this report!

Montreal's CSIS officers were treated to "One hour of solidarity after One year of detention" over lunch hour last week. It was exactly one year after the day that Adil Charkaoui was surrounded on a highway in Montreal and arrested with great media fanfare. CSIS was behind the arrest, alleging that the young teacher was a threat to national security. Charkaoui has been imprisoned without charge under secret evidence ever since, facing deportation back to Morocco, where torture and possibly death await him.

Family, friends and other people concerned about the rising racism and national security hysteria gathered in front of Canada's spy agency to protest Secret Trials and to demonstrate their solidarity with Adil Charkaoui, the four other Muslim men undergoing Secret Trials in Canada, and their families.

With a couple of "Guantanamo Bay prisoners" in orange jumpsuits flanking her, Hind Charkaoui spoke with emotion of the difficulties her family had faced since her brother's arrest. She then read out a poem by her brother Adil, describing in bitter detail the injustices and losses that he has suffered over the past year.

One year
(rough translation from French - original at [link] )

(Khawla is Charkaoui's daughter, Coderre is the scandal-ridden former Immigration minister who signed the certificate against Adil --- he is now implicated in the sponsorship scandal, but is not behind bars)

Adil Charkaoui
21 May 2004

One year behind bars!
At least 365 kisses from Khawla missed!
Thousands of meetings and family meals gone to waste!
Long nights doubly white, continual snow and incessant stress!
Long summer nights, in which sunsets don't hold the same charm!
And the ordeal continues!

Always the same refrain: national security over individual rights!
Always the same thing again: it's immigration and not criminal!
Always the same theme: prove that you are innocent!

What are the charges? State secret!
Who are the informers? Anonymous people!
Where is the evidence? Under seal!

Right to appeal? Only for the criminals!
Presumption of innocence? Only for those accused in the sponsorship
(Isn't that Coderre?!)
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Inquisition and Citizenship Canada
doesn't follow it!

Tonight, a girl of two years and seven months and a baby of nine months
Will again go to sleep without hugging their father
Ask yourselves why!

Guillaume Tremblay, an activist with the Quebec political party Union des Forces Progressistes, then told how he had been visited by CSIS agents last fall. He was offered "subsidies" in exchange for information on political activists whom he worked with. In an effort to convince him to pass on information about non-European organisers, the CSIS agent had resorted to a frankly racist discourse.

Pascale Montpetit, a well-known comedian and actress, and Karen Young, a fabulous jazz singer, expressed their opposition to secret trials and the attacks on Muslims and Arabs in which CSIS is playing a role (Young's speech is at [link]). Karen moved many to tears with a song about freedom, "Liberte", and then launched into "Following orders", which some of the people leaving the CSIS/Immigration Canada offices might have taken to heart: "I'm just following orders!"

Standing beside Adil Charkaoui's mother and daughter, one of the "Guantanamo Bay prisoners" held a placard with a quote from Herman Goering, an official in the Nazi government who was more involved in giving orders than following them. The full quote reads, "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

The rally finished on a high note with a solidarity song written and performed by two lovely and talented members of the Charkaoui campaign.