The security certificate system as a tool of anti-terrorism is dead. Last week, the government abandoned its case against Adil Charkaoui, supposedly as a lesser evil to disclosing information it says would jeopardize national security. Four other cases continue, and the government could “win” a few in the short-term. But even if the government demonstrates a reasonable basis for its allegations, the saga will continue – security certificates are supposed to be about deportation. And that prospect seems vanishingly remote because of the risk that the four remaining individuals will be tortured if deported. All of this means the government will inevitably need a “Plan B” for the future. So what now? Faced with similar dilemmas in designing law as a tool of anti-terrorism, other states have done two things of note. First, they have used the criminal law with greater vigour than Canada. Second, some have tinkered with conventional legal standards to authorize constraints on liberty outside of criminal prosecutions. Back to basics: criminal law
The first strategy is, relatively speaking, uncontroversial. There are, of course, difficult challenges. The question of national security confidentiality is ripe in criminal cases, as much as it has been in Canada's security certificate cases.
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