by Canadian Press
Source: Huffington Post
Date: November 17, 2017
Mohamed Harkat is asking for authorities to loosen his restrictions.
OTTAWA — A psychiatrist who has treated terror suspect Mohamed Harkat for the last eight years says the refugee from Algeria is unlikely to commit violent acts.
Dr. Colin Cameron told a Federal Court of Canada hearing Friday on Harkat's release conditions that his patient supports democracy and expresses revulsion about terrorist attacks.
"I'm trained to be very skeptical of people," Cameron told the court. "I've asked a lot of pointed questions to him."
Harkat, who is closely monitored by Canadian border agency officials, wants general permission to use the internet outside his family home and to travel freely within Canada.
Authorities are asking the court to deny the requests and make only minor modifications to existing conditions, saying Harkat continues to pose a threat almost 15 years after being arrested.
As the two-day hearing wrapped up Friday, Justice Sylvie Roussel said she planned to issue a decision soon on whether to relax current restrictions.
Denies involvement in terrorism
Harkat, 49, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent but he denies any involvement in terrorism.
The federal government is trying to deport the former pizza-delivery man using a national security certificate — a legal tool for removing non-citizens suspected of ties to extremism or espionage.
He fears he will be tortured if returned to his Algerian homeland, something Cameron says Harkat has frequent nightmares about.
Federal Court Justice Simon Noel ruled in 2010 that there were grounds to believe Harkat is a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network after coming to Canada.
Federal lawyer David Tyndale repeatedly cited Noel's findings as justification for vigilance concerning Harkat.
Lives under specific conditions
Harkat was released from custody in June 2006 under stringent conditions that have since been loosened to a degree.
He now lives at home with his wife, Sophie, and has access to a computer connected to the internet at their residence. He has to report in person to the Canada Border Services Agency every two weeks.
Although Harkat can travel within Canada, he must provide the border agency with five days' notice of his plans as well as a full itinerary when leaving the national capital region. He also has to report to the border agency by phone once a day while travelling.
Border services officers have followed the couple on trips to a cottage and to the funeral of Sophie's grandmother.
Wants level of supervision reassessed
Barb Jackman, Harkat's lawyer, objected to the level of scrutiny and said there was nothing to indicate Harkat poses an actual danger.
"I think there's got to be some evidence of a threat to the security of Canada," she said during Friday's hearing.
"Over time, we have to look at things again, in an objective way."
Roussel asked Tyndale if there was a way to avoid intrusive surveillance of family outings, or if there were no exceptions to the monitoring routine.
Tyndale suggested that tracking Harkat to the out-of-town funeral was not beyond the scope of the border agency's duties.
When someone is flagged by a security certificate as inadmissible to Canada, "some upsetting things are going to happen in your life," he added.
Officials willing to allow some concessions
by Jim Bronskill
Source: The Canadian Press via CBC News
Date: November 16, 2017
Security detainee wants more freedom to use the internet and travel within Canada
Federal authorities are balking at terror suspect Mohamed Harkat's desire for more leeway to use the internet and travel freely within Canada, saying he continues to pose a threat almost 15 years after being arrested.
Harkat is asking the Federal Court of Canada to approve his application for less strict monitoring of his everyday activities by the Canada Border Services Agency as he awaits the outcome of his protracted legal saga.
A two-day court hearing begins today to determine whether current restrictions on the Algerian refugee will be eased.
Harkat, 49, was taken into custody in Ottawa in December 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent.
The federal government is trying to deport the former pizza-delivery man to Algeria using a national security certificate — a legal tool for removing non-citizens suspected of ties to extremism or espionage. Harkat fears he will be imprisoned and tortured if returned to his homeland.
Following his arrest, Harkat was locked up for more than three years. He was released in June 2006 under stringent conditions that have since been relaxed somewhat.
Harkat now lives at home with wife Sophie. He has access to a computer connected to the internet at his residence. He has to report in person to the border services agency every two weeks. And though Harkat can travel within Canada, he must provide the border agency with five days' notice of his plans as well as a full itinerary when leaving the national capital. He also has to report to the border agency by phone once a day while travelling.
Harkat says he's not a threat
Harkat's submission to the court argues he "presents no threat to Canada or to any person" and that he has diligently complied with conditions for more than a decade. "A continuation of these conditions is not justified."
The couple says the restrictions now in place have caused great stress and hardship, even preventing them from having children.
Harkat wants permission to have a mobile phone, laptop computer and tablet with internet connectivity for use outside the home. He wishes to report to the border agency monthly by phone, through voice verification. And he wants restrictions on his travel lifted, with the exception that he remain in Canada.
Authorities are willing to allow Harkat to travel anywhere in Ontario or Quebec for up to 24 hours without notifying the border agency, and agree to him reporting in person once a month.
But they oppose the idea of Harkat having internet access outside the home, saying it would undermine their ability to keep tabs on his communications.
In a submission to the court, the ministers of public safety and immigration say an October 2016 assessment by the border services agency concluded that any risks are neutralized by Harkat's compliance with the existing terms and conditions.
"The fact that there is no new information linking Mr. Harkat to threat-related information activities does not warrant the variations he is requesting," the federal submission says. "The Ministers have not changed their position that Mr. Harkat remains a threat."
Trudeau's brother has written on Harkat's behalf
by Jonathan Horowitz
Source: Just Security Website
Date: June 13, 2017
After September 11, the United States and other countries heavily relied on diplomatic assurances as counterterrorism tools to legally justify transferring people to other states where they were likely to be tortured. These assurances were based on the state receiving a detainee promising that it would treat the transferred person in accordance with certain human rights standards. Sometimes, but not often, a receiving state would also commit to allowing the sending state to check-in on the detainee every now and again. This was often referred to as “post-transfer detainee monitoring.”
Today, this issue has taken a back seat to Trump’s embrace of direct torture. But it’s important to keep a close eye on if, when, and how the Trump administration uses diplomatic assurances. This is especially true because unlike U.S. torture practices, diplomatic assurances haven’t come anywhere close to receiving the same degree of scrutiny and disapproval.
In April, a pitched battled emerged among states, U.N. agencies and human rights groups during a public discussion hosted by the U.N. Committee against Torture on whether governments should be allowed to ever use diplomatic assurances and, if so, under what conditions. Prior to the event, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States submitted a joint statement supporting the use of diplomatic assurances, pointing out that states have used assurances to promote respect for the prohibition against torture. They emphatically disagreed with an assertion that the Committee had made that diplomatic assurances were inherently “contrary” to the principle of non-refoulement, which is the legal term that bars a state from transferring someone to the control of another state where there are substantial grounds for believing there’s a real risk the person will be tortured. At the Committee’s public session numerous other states chimed in to add support to this position.
by Tim McSorley
Date: December 10, 2016
Saturday, December 10, is Human Rights Day. It’s also the anniversary of an ongoing stain on Canada’s human rights record.
Fourteen years ago, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested outside his home under a government security certificate on allegations of having ties to terrorism. Despite never being charged, and never being shown the evidence against him, Harkat has faced solitary confinement, the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history and lives under the constant threat of deportation to Algeria — where he would certainly be imprisoned and likely tortured.
We like to believe that Canada stands above torture. And while the practice is banned in Canada, our international human rights obligations means that we must oppose torture everywhere. That includes never deporting someone to a situation where they could face torture.
Sadly, Canada has a history of complicity in sending Canadians to torture abroad: The U.S. government whisked Maher Arar away to Jordan, and then Syria, where he was tortured. Canadian officials were complicit in his rendition and turned a blind eye to his torture. In 2007, after the two year O’Connor Inquiry, he received an official apology from the Canadian government, plus a $10.5 million settlement and $1 million in legal fees.
While no apology or settlement can undo the horrors of torture, other Canadians haven’t even received that much. A follow-up to the O’Connor Inquiry, the Iacobucci Inquiry, found that Canadian agents and officials played an indirect role in the arrest and torture of three other Canadians: Ahmad El Maati in Egypt, and Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria. This included problematic sharing of information with foreign spy agencies, providing insufficient consular support, and officials ignoring allegations of torture.
The inquiry ended in 2008, and yet no compensation or redress has been offered. This, despite a 2009 majority vote in the House — including Justin Trudeau and Liberal MPs — in favour of a Public Safety Committee report calling for an apology, redress and full adoption of the recommendations of the O’Connor Inquiry, including the creation of an integrated and independent review body for national security.
Sadly, we’ve seen the opposite of redress: The former Conservative government and the current Liberal government have fought hard against a $100 million lawsuit brought by the three men for redress for the abuse they faced. In fact, the Liberals have doubled down, arguing in court that a 2014 law brought in by the Conservatives to protect intelligence sources should apply retroactively, in a bid to stop key testimony.
When the prime minister says Canada is “back” and promises to fight for equality and human rights, a fundamental first step should be apologizing, providing redress and eliminating all complicity in torture.
We have a golden opportunity to make things right: The government is currently holding public, country-wide consultations on our national security framework. Prime Minister Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale could help set the tone for what is to come by stating right away that they will take some fundamental steps:
* Ensuring no person is deported if there is a risk of torture, starting with the end of deportation proceedings against Mr. Harkat.
* Committing to redress and apologies for all victims of torture in which Canada is complicit, starting with Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nureddin.
* Withdrawing ministerial directives – still on the books – which allow Canada to accept intelligence that may have been garnered under torture, in violation of our international commitments.
* Eliminating the security certificate system, which allows for detention without charges or access to the evidence being used to bring the certificate.
* Repealing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 (Bill C-51), which brought in a tangled mess of laws that open the door wide for the types of violations that led to the torture of Mr. Arar, Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nurredin.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on Human Rights Day 2017, we could finally say that Canada has cut all ties to torture?
Tim McSorley is the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.
Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. It is also the 14th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat's arrest on a security certificate.
At yesterday's press conference in Ottawa Amnesty International Canada secretary-general Alex Neve teamed up with International Civil Liberties Monitor Group national coordinator Tim McSorley and activists Sophie Harkat and Chantal Sunaram to mark International Human Rights Day, as well as the 14th anniversary of the security certificate-driven arrest of Mohamed Harkat.
Mohamed Harkat girds himself for another fight to stay
by Debra Black
Source: The Toronto Star
Date: August 2, 2016
Former security-certificate detainee ruled a threat for alleged Al Qaeda ties is battling deportation in the latest chapter of a 14-year saga.
PHOTO: Mohamed Harkat is pictured at his home in Ottawa. The native-born Algerian, who fled that nation amid political upheaval, arrived in Canada in 1995. He was imprisoned for 42 months in 2002 on suspicion of ties to terrorism.
Mohamed Harkat — an Algerian who says he was wrongly accused of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent — hopes he can finally win his freedom and the right to stay in Canada.
“What the government is doing is wrong, and it’s not fair,” Harkat said in an exclusive interview with the Star. “And they got the wrong guy.”
Harkat, who came to Canada in 1995 and claimed refugee status, has been fighting deportation since his arrest on a national security certificate in December 2002.
He still dreams of one day becoming a Canadian citizen, even though his life in Canada has been very different from what he’d expected.
“I thought one day I would have children, a house, a family . . . everything is destroyed. When I met Sophie, we had a plan to buy a house and have children.”
The 47-year-old Harkat says he’s innocent and will face torture and persecution in his native Algeria if he is deported.
Canada Border Services Agency did not comment on the specifics of the case, but confirmed that Harkat is under a removal order, following a Federal Court decision upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Esme Bailey, a senior media spokesperson for CBSA, added that the removal order “can only be enforced once due process under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has taken place.”
A February 2016 CBSA document — marked top secret — states that, “should Mr. Harkat be allowed to remain in Canada, it can be presumed that, given the opportunity, he would work toward the ends espoused by the Bin Laden Network.” It recommends his removal from Canada.
His lawyer, Barbara Jackman, plans to argue, in a formal petition to the public safety minister, that Harkat will face torture and persecution if sent back. She also plans to argue he is not a threat to Canada and should be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds. In early September, she will seek an exemption from deportation.
Canadian law does not allow deportation to a country where torture will occur unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“You send him back with the public profile he’s got, and it’s asking for him to be further detained and tortured,” Jackman said. “I can’t see anything exceptional about Harkat’s case that would require he be deported to torture.”
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 "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?
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.