National Security and Human Rights a Decade Later
Presented by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Amnesty International Canada, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa
Keynote panel featuring:
Honorable Frank Iacobucci
Internal Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin
Honorable John Major
Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182
Honorable Dennis O’Connor
Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar
Other panels will discuss the personal dimension of national security-related human rights violations, challenges for the legal profession and ongoing concerns related to oversight of national security activities. The conference will also feature a morning panel with four leading journalists working at the forefront of national security and human rights in Canada over the past decade.
29 OCTOBER 2014
8:00 – 17:30
Wine and cheese
Tabaret 112, uOttawa, 75 Laurier avenue East, Ottawa
This event will be bilingual with simultaneous interpretation
Seating is limited
ICLMG recipient of NCCM award
October 15, 2014 - The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group is honoured to receive a Community Partner award from one of our member organizations, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, for our collaborative work over the past twelve years. Our national coordinator, Roch Tassé, will be accepting the award at the NCCM's upcoming Ottawa fundraising dinner on Sunday, October 26, 2014, themed “Be Empowered: Standing Up for Canadian Muslims”.
ICLMG exclusive: Fight for Freedom? You’re Inadmissible to Canada
By Matthew Behrens
September 25, 2014 - The growing use of overly broad Canadian immigration inadmissibility provisions to deny status to refugees who have been associated with national liberation struggles finally saw some pushback with a Federal Court decision issued July 10.
The case involves José Figueroa, a survivor of the Salvadoran civil war (in which government forces murdered 75,000 people) who is faced with deportation for his prior association with the FMLN, the former resistance organization that is now the governing party in that country. Despite never having picked up a gun or engaging in any form of violence, he is falsely tarred with the terrorist brush by an immigration officer because of the FMLN association, even though the organization is listed nowhere on the planet as a terrorist entity and past and current members of the FMLN, including consular officials, attended the court hearing of his case.
The ICLMG signs an open letter to PM Harper urging him to intervene for the immediate release of Khaled Al-Qazzaz
July 15, 2014 - Open letter from Canadians to Prime Minister Harper regarding Khaled Al-Qazzaz
To The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
We, the undersigned, are calling upon you as concerned Canadian citizens and organizations to use the full power of your office to demand the immediate release of Canadian permanent resident Khaled Al-Qazzaz who has been illegally detained in Egypt for over 365 days without charge and is in present danger of suffering a heart attack. He should have been promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released. One year is most certainly not prompt. His illegal detention was, in fact, recently extended by an Egyptian court. Your intervention is critical in securing his immediate release and safe return home to Canada.
The Shrinking Space for Dissent in Canada
June 4, 2014 - Written statement by Lawyers Rights Watch Canada to the 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council and endorsed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada calls on the Human Rights Council to fulfill its duty to promote and protect the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada by monitoring and recommending:
Privacy community speaks out against government record of failure on privacy
This letter was co-signed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
June 2nd, 2014 – A large coalition of Canada’s leading privacy experts and civil society groups wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday regarding the federal government’s increasing failure to protect the privacy of Canadians. The letter points to the government’s efforts to increase the ability of law enforcement and other state agencies’ ability to exploit new technologies in order to invade Canadians’ privacy (pointing specifically to Bill C-13, currently being rushed through parliamentary committee under the guise of ‘cyber bullying’ legislation), while steadfastly refusing to address long-standing privacy problems raised by the same technological developments. The letter specifically points to the unchecked surveillance activities of Canada’s foreign intelligence agency, CSEC, and the steadfast refusal to update ageing but central privacy and transparency statutes as indication of some of the long-standing privacy problems the government has refused to act on. It calls on the government to take its review of the privacy-invasive elements of Bill C-13 seriously, and to establish a commission to examine privacy and state surveillance in the digital age.
Finally, the letter decries the controversial nomination of a government official as Privacy Commissioner of Canada. While the capabilities of the candidate — Daniel Therrier, a senior and respected government lawyer at Public Safety Canada — are not questioned, there is concern that he lacks the perspective necessary to immediately tackle Canada’s long list of privacy challenges. The appointment is particularly controversial in light of reports that, in selecting Mr. Therrier, the government rejected its own selection committee’s preferred candidate. As Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Public Safety Canada, Mr. Therrier would have been responsible for designing, overseeing and legally advising on a number of the very programs he will be called upon to challenge as Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The Letter points out that it will take time for an individual to develop the perspective necessary to challenge the very programs that individual has designed, and that leaving Canadians without an effective Privacy watchdog while this perspective is developed is indefensible.
The ICLMG signs the Ottawa Statement on Mass Surveillance in Canada
May 22, 2014 - This statement was originally crafted on the occasion of the launch of the book Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada / Vivre à nu: la surveillance au Canada, at the ‘Politics of Surveillance Workshop’. This event brought together in Ottawa, Canada, May 9-10, 2014, an international group of academics and advocates to debate the various political, legal, social and technological strategies for challenging mass surveillance, protecting civil liberties and advancing democratic rights.
We the undersigned are agreed:
1. That all levels of government in Canada must fully respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms including the right to privacy, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and security against unreasonable search and seizure.
2. That all proposals for changes to information and privacy rights must be presented, justified and debated in a transparent manner. No changes to information and privacy rights and statutory privacy law should ever be embedded in omnibus bills or otherwise hidden in legislation relating to other issues.
3. That the extension of ‘lawful access’ regimes allowing government bodies to collect and/or purchase and store personal data without specific judicial permission, should be halted. All such proposed changes must be subjected to tests of necessity, proportionality, minimality and effectiveness, with the burden of proof being on the government. In addition, security vulnerabilities in communications systems must be addressed and fixed rather than exploited by government agencies.
Press release: Supreme Court Harkat decision maintains fundamentally unfair process for non-citizens
May 14, 2014 - The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) are disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Harkat, which leaves in place a fundamentally unfair process that relies on secret evidence in deciding whether to deport a non-citizen, potentially to a risk of torture.
In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the security certificate scheme, finding that Special Advocates can adequately compensate for the failure to share with the persons concerned some of the evidence used against them.
The ICLMG and the CCR regret that this decision leaves in place unequal protections for non-citizens’ basic rights. When these rights are at stake for citizens, such as in criminal proceedings, we do not tolerate the use of secret evidence. Non-citizens deserve an equal opportunity to know and respond to the evidence used against them. The Court did not engage with the discriminatory aspects of these provisions. The Court also failed to refer to international human rights law, which should provide a crucial framework for Canadian law.
Press release: ICLMG and la LDL call for robust oversight and revision of powers granted to CSEC
February 10, 2014 - Ten years after the creation of the Arar Commission by the Paul Martin government in February 2004, very little has changed. In the midst of the present debate about the spying activities of the Canadian Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and la Ligue des droits et libertés are calling on parliamentarians to re-visit Justice O’Connor’s recommendations aimed at overseeing and increasing the transparency of the surveillance and information sharing practices of Canadian intelligence gathering agencies.
Thank you to all who attended The Human Cost of Killer Drones event
November 28, 2013 - The Human Cost of Killer Drones was a success with over 100 people attending in person and many more watching the panel via livestream. We would also like to thank our panelists Farea Al-Muslimi, Alex Neve, and John Packer for speaking, and the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (Human Rights) at Carleton University, and NOWAR-PAIX for sponsoring the event.
Stay tuned for the video of the event.
ICLMG and Farea Al-Muslimi: Press conference on Parliament Hill
November 25, 2013 - Farea Al-Muslimi, Roch Tassé and Christine Jones were at the Press Gallery on Parliament Hill on Monday November 25, 2013 to urge the Canadian government to take a different path than the US and not purchase killer drones. Farea Al-Muslimi is the Yemeni activist who made Obama admit to the use of drones, Roch Tassé is the National Coordinator of ICLMG, and Christine Jones is the Co-Chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance.
The Human Cost of Killer Drones
The Ottawa Peace Assembly (OPA) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) invite you to an event co-sponsored by the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) and the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (Human Rights) at Carleton University, and endorsed by NOWAR-PAIX:
November 25, 2013
Desmarais building, room 12102
55, Laurier Avenue E., University of Ottawa
The Yemeni activist who delivered a powerful testimony in a congressional hearing on American drone strikes in Yemen and basically made Obama admit to the use of drones.
Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. Amnesty recently released a report on the use of drones in Pakistan and the status of U.S. drone strikes under international law.
Constitutions and Process Design Expert, Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations. He is currently advising the political transition in Yemen.
There will be a Q & A session at the end. It will be possible to ask questions in French.
Free event. Donations are encouraged to support local peace and human rights organizing.
We hope to see you there!
RSVP on Facebook, share widely and invite your friends
Watch Farea Al-Muslimi’s testimony on American drone strikes at the Congressional Hearing
Read “Will I be next?”, Amnesty International’s 2013 report on US drone strikes in Pakistan
Letter to the ministers opposing the deportation of Jose Figueroa
Letter to The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Immigration
October 15, 2013 - The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is urging you to reverse the deportation order against José Figueroa, a Salvadoran refugee claimant living in B.C., who was forced to claim sanctuary in a Langley Lutheran church to avoid deportation to El Salvador at the end of the month. Mr. Figueroa, a married father of three Canadian-born children, has been ordered deported by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) due to his past affiliation with the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN), currently the governing political party in El Salvador. If deported Mr. Figueroa will be forced to uproot his family, including his Canadian-born children, despite by all accounts having contributed positively to his Canadian community for over 15 years.
The ICLMG is especially troubled by the fact that the IRB based its ruling on the Canadian Border Security Agency’s (CBSA) assessment that the FMLN “is or was engaged in terrorism and/or subversion” and on coinciding legal arguments from the Ministry of Public Safety. This is ludicrous!
ICLMG and CCR intervened at the Supreme Court to oppose secret trials and security certificates
On October 10, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and ICLMG asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule that it is fundamentally unfair to rely on secret evidence in deciding whether to deport a non-citizen, potentially to a risk of persecution. The CCR and ICLMG were jointly intervening in the Harkat case, which addresses the use of undisclosed evidence in the security certificate process. The organizations, represented by Sharry Aiken, Barbara Jackman and Andrew Brouwer, presented oral arguments yesterday.
The CCR/ICLMG factum is available from the Supreme Court website.
Press release: Fundamental fairness for non-citizens at stake in Supreme Court Harkat case
October 7, 2013 - Treating people fairly means giving everyone equal protection of their basic rights. The use of secret evidence in immigration processes is unfair because it undermines non-citizens’ right to life, liberty and security of the person. When these rights are at stake for citizens, such as in criminal proceedings, we do not tolerate the use of secret evidence. Non-citizens deserve an equal opportunity to know and respond to the evidence used against them.
Decisions made using secret evidence in immigration proceedings have dramatic consequences for the individual, because a person found inadmissible on security grounds cannot make a refugee claim and is only eligible for a much narrower risk review, with a higher standard of proof. There is therefore a real possibility that affected persons will be sent back to face persecution, in violation of Canada’s international human rights obligations. Because the definition of security inadmissibility in Canadian immigration law is very broad, those affected include people who have never engaged in or promoted violence and who represent no threat to Canada’s security.
The CCR/ICLMG factum is available from the Supreme Court website.
Canadians need answers on domestic spying powers
This is an op-ed written by Warren Allmand on behalf of ICLMG and published in the Toronto Star
September 4, 2013 - Canadians should heed the uproar in the United States, Europe and Latin America over the recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying, without warrants, on e-mails, faxes and telephone calls going into and out of or simply transiting through the country. The fear is that data collection and data-mining systems used by the NSA are not just monitoring suspected terrorists, but also filtering through the international, and possibly even domestic, communications of potentially all ordinary law-abiding citizens. What is even more startling is that Canadian security agencies have been authorized to do the same thing here, and may be using the same approach to conduct vast data-mining of our communications.
The states involved in forcing down and searching the Bolivian President’s jet should be held to account while the EU should concentrate on protecting the fundamental rights of Europeans by putting an end to the unwarranted mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden.
Many European countries have a proud history of providing refuge to people facing prosecutions of a political nature. If they are to avoid the same international reputation for injustice that increasingly plagues their Transatlantic partner they should cease and desist in their efforts to apprehend Mr. Snowden, recognise his service to European democracy and guarantee him safe haven or passage.
Presented by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Amnesty International Canada, and the Center for Constitutional Rights
When: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 7-9pm
Where: Octopus Books, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario
What: The screening of the documentary followed by a discussion with J. Wells Dixon (CCR attorney representing men at Guantánamo), Abdullah Almalki (Canadian citizen who was tortured in Syria because of inaccurate information given by Canada), and Paul Champ (Ottawa human rights and national security litigation lawyer), and moderated by Hilary Homes (Amnesty International Canada).
Roundtable on the criminalization of dissent
March 6, 2013 - The Human Rights Research and Education Center of the University of Ottawa (HRREC) was the host of a roundtable on the issue of the criminalization of dissent and its impacts on human rights and environmental defenders. The panel presentations was followed by an exchange with the audience on the legal dilemmas and challenges faced by human rights and environmental defenders as a result of this increasing trend.
'The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich' & the criminalization of dissent
March 5, 2013 - A Co-Presentation with Toronto’s Aluna Theatre of ‘The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich’ and a panel discussion with a Guatemalan human rights defender and local guests about the criminalization of dissent. With Jen Moore from Mining Watch, Ian Thomson from Kairos, Roch Tassé from ICLMG, Brittany Lambert from APG-CCIC and Lolita Chavez from the K’iche People’s Counsel.
When we use torture, we become who we are fighting against
This essay is a response to Margaret Wente's troubling column "Can you ever argue about torture?" published in The Globe and Mail on February 1, 2013. The Globe and Mail declined to publish ICLMG's response.
ICLMG 04/02/2013 - Remembering history does not mean accepting the horrible acts and the violations of the rule of law and civil liberties perpetrated for a “good cause”. Canada has ruined many lives in its involvement in the war on terror by adopting lax attitudes towards torture, using information obtained through torture, and abandoning individuals in countries where they were tortured because of erroneous information provided by our police and intelligence agencies. To this date, Canada still refuses to apologize and compensate the victims: Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin, Benamar Benatta, and Abousfian Abdelrazik. Our cause, however good we think it might be, becomes morally bankrupt as soon as we use terrorizing and life shattering methods such as torture. We become who we are fighting against.
December 10, 2012 - This day marks the 10th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat's arrest under a security certificate. Ironically, it is also International Human Rights Day. ICLMG was on Parliament Hill with Mohamed Harkat, his family, Hilary Homes from Amnesty International, Ihsaan Gardee from CAIR-CAN, Randall Garrison, the NDP Public Safety critic and Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party to denounce the security certificate regime and demand that this human rights violation stops.
ICLMG testified against Bill S-7 (Combating Terrorism Act) before parliamentary committee
December 3, 2012 - Me Denis Barrette, ICLMG's spokesperson on Bill S-7, has testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Monday, December 3, to express our opposition to Bill S-7 (Combating Terrorism Act).
ICLMG opposes the reintroduction into the Criminal Code of Canada of two controversial provisions (“preventative detention” and “investigative hearing”) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 that were subject to a sunset clause and expired in February 2007. In a joint statement endorsed by a group of civil liberties and human rights organizations released last week, ICLMG reaffirms the position that the current powers of law enforcement already allow security agencies to pursue, investigate, disrupt, and successfully prosecute terrorism-related crimes.
Editorial: Time to address the root causes of terrorism
November 29, 2012 - Last Friday, International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino outlined his vision for CIDA’s future in an address to the Economic Club of Canada. He spoke of a profound shift towards the private sector, particularly mining companies, and of more explicit work to promote Canada’s interests abroad. The same week, a confidential draft document on Canadian foreign policy was severely criticized by opposition MPs, human rights experts and former diplo