Protest condemns detentions under federal security certificates

posted on November 08, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: Canadian Press (CP)
Source: The Montreal Gazette online
URL: [link]
Date: November 08, 2004

OTTAWA -- About two dozen people demonstrated outside a federal office building Monday, protesting the use of security certificates which have been used to jail suspected terrorists without trial or charges.

Then demonstrators braved a bitter November wind on the street outside a courtroom where the Federal Court of Appeal was hearing a constitutional challenge against the certificates.

A three-judge panel heard an application brought on behalf of Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal man accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He has been held in jail since May 2003 and has lost three bids for bail.Authorities want to deport the landed immigrant to his native Morocco. His supporters say he faces torture there.

His sister, Hind Charkaoui, told the protest that her brother deserves a fair hearing, not the closed-door proceedings allowed under the security certificate proceedings.

"He is not a terrorist," she said. "Adil is a simple person, a student in university."

Michael Bossin, a law professor from the University of Ottawa, said the security process is deeply flawed, because people named in such a certificate have no right to face or cross-examine their accusers or even to know the full details of accusations against them.

"Who knows where this information has come from?" he asked.

Chantal Tie, a colleague of Bossin, called it "a less than fair proceeding."

"Some of the judges have publicly declared that they are uneasy with having to play the role of both judge and defence counsel in these proceedings."

She said there are better ways to protect security.

For example, in Britain, someone named in a security case has the right to have a security-cleared lawyer to appear on their behalf before a judge.

"There are alternatives, this is not the only way for us to deal with security issues."

However, Matthew Behrens, one of the organizers of the protest, said the whole security certificate system must be abolished.

"We do not believe that you can amend the process to make it more fair," he said. "It is fundamentally unfair."

© Canadian Press 2004
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2004