Documenting Canada's 'war on terror'

posted on June 12, 2011 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Sara Falconer
URL: [link]
Date: June 10, 2011

For any documentary filmmaker, gaining the subjects' trust is a challenge. But how do you break through to men who are still in the midst of a Kafka-esque ordeal of torture, secret trials, and constant surveillance?

Director Amar Wala and producer Noah Bingham are grappling with these issues as they film The Secret Trial 5, a crowdfunded documentary that takes a personal look at Canada's "war on terror." Their subjects, five Muslim men, have been held for over a decade using security certificates, a controversial measure of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that allows non-citizens to be detained indefinitely. Hassan Almrei, Adil Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Mohammad Mahjoub each spent two to seven years in prison, but have never been charged with a crime. Their lawyers and human rights groups have expressed strong concerns that the secret "evidence" against them is little more than hearsay, obtained by foreign agencies using torture.

Wala, who moved to Toronto with his family from Bombay when he was 11, first learned about security certificates from one of his professors at York University. "It's something I never would have believed existed in Canada," he says. His award-winning narrative short, The Good Son, told the true story of Mahmoud Jaballah's young son Ahmad, who was asked to translate for his father during a CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Services) interrogation in their home.

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