The following is a partial list of ICLMG’s main achievements since its inception in May 2002.
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Permanent forum for information sharing, joint analysis and collective action
ICLMG provides to its members a permanent forum for information sharing, joint analysis, collective action and the development of common policy positions and common discourse on issues related to civil liberties and human rights, in the context of national security and ‘anti-terrorism’.
Presence on Parliament Hill
ICLMG carries out ongoing monitoring of the parliamentary process related to national security and anti-terrorism legislation, and regularly meets with MPs regarding several issues of concern. Over the years, ICLMG has become a recognized and respected voice in parliamentary committee hearings and is often invited to take part in the briefing of parliamentarians on issues related to national security and anti-terrorism. See our many briefs and reports.
Presence in the mainstream media
ICLMG has established itself as a legitimate and credible voice in the mainstream media, notably with Radio-Canada, Le Devoir, The Canadian Press, the Montreal Gazette, the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, among others. ICLMG has also participated in numerous press conferences on Parliament Hill. Finally, ICLMG has published many op-ed pieces in mainstream online media and has a weekly column in the Huffington Post since December 2016.
The weekly ICLMG News Digest
ICLMG publishes an online weekly compilation of news articles, events and calls to action regarding national security, anti-terrorism, civil liberties and other issues related to the mandate and concerns of ICLMG and its member organizations, including drone strikes, criminalization of dissent, the Guantanamo Bay detention center, torture, surveillance, security certificates, the oversight of police and intelligence agencies, the North American Security Perimeter, No-Fly lists, etc. The News Digest is distributed to more than 1200 contacts and read by many renowned jurists, grassroots activists, academics and policymakers across Canada. Subscribe to our news digest, or general emailing list.
Partnerships and collaborations
Since its inception, ICLMG has not only established itself as a credible and expert voice in policy circles and in the mainstream media, but has also developed a wide network of collaborations with other civil liberties organizations, academics, grassroots organizations, legal teams, the Office of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and individuals targeted by anti-terrorism measures. Internationally, ICLMG participates in meetings organized in relation to UN activities, and cooperates with organizations such the ACLU in the U.S. and Statewatch in the U.K, as well as national and regional networks in the Global South.
Sought-after expertise for presentations and on books, papers and reports
Many individuals and organizations working in the fields of anti-terrorism, national security and civil liberties have reached out to ICLMG for speeches, presentations and to sit on panels, and for feedback and revision of their soon-to-be published work or reports.
2) Specific achievements
2016: Participation in the National Security Consultation
- Lawyer and Arar Commission prosecutor Paul Cavalluzzo represented the ICLMG in front of the House Committee on Public Safety and National Defence (SECU) for their study on Canada’s National Security Framework. Here is his presentation. We also submitted an extended brief to the Committee and attended its open-mic session in Montreal – there was a consensus for the repeal of C-51 in the audience.
- The ICLMG, alongside 25 other civil society organizatons, met with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould, to brief them on our recommendations to reform national security in Canada.
- The ICLMG attended a discussion with representatives of Public Safety Canada hosted at the University of Ottawa by the International Commission of Jurists.
- The ICLMG put together and made public its answers to the National Security online consultation in order to make it more accessible and focused on human rights. Don’t hesitate to read it and use it for educational purposes as it is a very detailed look at the issues and solutions around national security in Canada today.
- The ICLMG submitted, to the SECU Committee, a brief on Bill C-22, which would create a Committee of Parliamentarians on Intelligence and National Security.
2016: The ICLMG campaigned for the removal of children on the Canadian No-Fly List
In February 2016, parents came forward in the media with stories of their children being delayed from boarding planes because their name matched someone’s name on the no-fly list. After months of advocacy and pressure from families of more than 50 Canadian children whose names are on the no-fly list, the federal government has finally approved, in November, a redress system to protect Canadian travellers, including children who can’t board airline flights due to aviation security lists. We however are concerned that it will take up to 18 months for such a system to be in place. Furthermore, the ICLMG will continue to fight against Canadian airline companies using the US no-fly list, to ensure redress for Canadian travelers facing unwarranted restrictions from foreign governments, and to get rid of the ineffective and due process violating no fly list regime altogether.
2016: The ICLMG participated to a panel on Policing and Profiling in Canada
The Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice (ICCJ) of Carleton University and the ICLMG hosted a critical discussion on issues related to racial profiling by police in Canada with panelists Julian Falconer, social justice lawyer, civil liberties and public interest litigator, and Monia Mazigh, academic author and human rights advocate on November 14, 2016.
2016: The ICLMG campaigned for the liberation of Dr Homa Hoodfar, emprisoned in Iran
Dr Homa Hoodfar, a Concordia University anthropology and sociology professor, was detained since June 6, 2016 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where political prisoners are normally held. She travelled to Iran in February to see family and do academic research but was arrested in March, just as she was set to return to Montreal. She was released on bail and then rearrested in early June. It is not known what Hoodfar was suspected of having done, but her family has said they believe it was related to her research into feminism in Iran. She was finally released and returned to Montreal on September 19, 2016.
2016: The ICLMG organized a talk with Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s lawyer
The ICLMG, in collaboration with Inter Pares and Octopus Books, presented The Rule of Law in an Age of Fear: A talk with Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s lawyer. Mr Edney spoke about Omar Khadr’s case and the climate of fear surrounding the war on terror and how it has affected and continues to negatively affect human rights, due process, and the rule of law. Watch an excerpt of the talk.
2016: The ICLMG participates on a panel about Bill C-51
The ICLMG and the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University organized a public event in Toronto entitled The Consequences of Bill C-51 for Civil Liberties and the Freedom of Expression in Canada, featuring John Ralston Saul, an award winning novelist and essayist, author of The Comeback and A Fair Country. President Emeritus of PEN International and Co-Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and Monia Mazigh, author of Hope and Despair, her memoir of the campaign to rescue her husband, Maher Arar, and clear his name.
2014-2016: The ICLMG was a leading contributor in the campaign for the liberation of Khaled Al-Qazzaz, imprisoned without charge in Egypt
The ICLMG has participated in a press conference on Parliament Hill and has co-signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, among other actions, to urge him to intervene for the immediate release of Canadian resident Khaled Al-Qazzaz, who had been imprisoned in Egypt, in solitary confinement, for more than a year without charge. Khaled was finally released in January 2015. However, Khaled and his family were trapped in Egypt, prevented from leaving without cause by the Egyptian authorities, for months. They were finally able to come back to Canada on August 14, 2016.
2014-2016: The ICLMG was a leading contributor in the campaign for the release of Canadian Salim Alaradi, imprisoned without charge in the UAE
The ICLMG has written a press release, co-signed an open letter, and created an urgent action to urge the Prime minister to put pressure on the United Arab Emirates to release without delay Canadian citizen and father of 5, Salim Alaradi, detained without accusation, and tortured, since August 2014. Salim Alaradi has been released on June 2, 2016 and is now back in Canada.
2015: The ICLMG participated in a discussion group with UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly
The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, Mr. Maina Kiai, organized an expert meeting in Florence, Italy the following question for one of his reports: What is the impact of fundamentalism on the freedom of association and peaceful assembly? The ICLMG was the organization representing Canada.
2014-2015: The ICLMG campaigned for the release of Canadian Journalist Mohamed Fahmy
Mohamed Fahmy was detained and then sentenced by the Egyptian court to three years in prison for his work as a journalist in a trial that was described as “farcical” and a politicized attack on freedom of expression. After intense international pressure on the Canadian and Egyptian governments, Fahmy was pardoned by the Egyptian president on September 23rd, 2015, and was subsequently released. Mohamed Fahmy is now back in Canada.
2015: The ICLMG publishes tables of Canadian political parties’ positions on national security issues since 2001
In order to inform Canadians on the eve of the 2015 federal election, the ICLMG published tables on all the positions of the federal parties on anti-terror legislation since 2001, and on all national security issues of concern to the ICLMG, since 2004. Themes include powers of oversight mechanisms, revocation of citizenship, lawful access, no fly list, use of secret evidence and ministerial discretion, criminalization of dissent, security certificates, privacy and information sharing, immigration and refugee rights, torture, North American Security Parameter, mass surveillance and collection of metadata, and budgets of security agencies and their oversight mechanisms, if any.
2015: The ICLMG publishes a report on the criminalization of land and environment defenders
In September 2015, the ICLMG and MiningWatch Canada released a report that squarely links Canadian mining interests throughout the Americas with intensifying repression and violence against mining-affected communities, Read In the National Interest? Criminalization of Land and Environment Defenders in the Americas.
2015: Major contribution to the public awareness of and the struggle against Bill C-51, the Anti-terror Act of 2015
The ICLMG has been among the firsts to organize, educate, and campaign against the dangerous and flawed Bill C-51 after it was tabled in Parliament in January 2015. Part of a group of several organizations, we strategized, wrote press releases and open letters to the Prime Minister, denounced the limited Parliamentary Committee hearings and debates on the legislation, and contributed to the education of our 43 member organizations on the issues with the bill. For more information on the Anti-terror Act of 2015, click here.
2015: Submission to UN Human Rights Committee on Canada’s compliance with the ICCPR
Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was examined by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) in July 2015. The ICLMG has sent a brief to Geneva stating our concerns and Canada’s contraventions to the ICCPR, including those regarding the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, the no-fly list, the security certificates, the Arar and Iacobucci commissions, CSEC, Bill C-51, Bill C-44, and the Budget Bill and the alarming trend of increasing discretionary ministerial powers and use of secret evidence in court. Read the whole submission here.
2014: The ICLMG signs two articles in La Ligue des droits et libertés’s magazine on mass surveillance
In a context where the revelations of Edward Snowden sparked a healthy public debate on the establishment of a system for monitoring populations, this edition of the LDL magazine aimed to shed further light on the evolution of issues of surveillance and of privacy and personal information protection, their implications for democracy and human rights as well as the prospects in terms of resistance and alternatives. ICLMG’s National Coordinator, Roch Tassé, and ICLMG’s Communications and Research Coordinator, Anne Dagenais Guertin, have each written an article in this issue. Read here.
2014: The ICLMG co-organizes the ARAR+10 conference: National Security and Human Rights A Decade Later
Presented by the ICLMG, Amnesty International Canada, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa, this unique and successful event marked the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Arar Commission of Inquiry on the actions of Canadian Officials which led to the detention and torture in Syria of Canadian citizen Maher Arar presided by Justice O’Connor. The panelists discussed the personal dimension of national security-related human rights violations, challenges for journalists and the legal profession and ongoing concerns related to oversight of national security activities. And three justices discussed the state of national security and human rights and the implementation – or lack thereof – of the recommendations they made specifically regarding the oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies to prevent human rights abuses from happening again. Watch all the panels here. Read the report here. Watch the video we made to call for stronger national security oversight and review mechanisms.
2014: The ICLMG co-signs an open letter urging PM Harper to strenghten global efforts to end torture
On the International Human Rights Day, civil society groups have joined together in an open letter calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put Canada back in the global effort to end torture and ill-treatment around the world. On the day that marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture, Canada should take the final step and ratify the instrument that establishes national and international systems for inspecting detention centres. In 2006 and 2009 Canada told the UN Human Rights Council that it would consider ratifying this Optional Protocol that was adopted by the UN in 2002. The organizations that signed the open letter are united in calling for Canada to take this step without delay. Read more
2013: Roundtable events on “criminalization of dissent” with Guatemalan delegation
ICLMG, MiningWatch Canada and Peace Brigade International organized two public roundtables in Ottawa, in May 2013, to bring public attention to the growing phenomenon of criminalization of dissent. The first roundtable presentation followed a play entitled The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich. The play, a half-hour staged reading including songs, stories and images is based on the murder of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan community leader killed by security forces contracted by the subsidiary of a Canadian mining company in eastern Guatemala. The second roundtable took place under the auspices of the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. That event, titled “Criminalization of dissent: Impacts on human rights and environmental defenders”, featured Lolita Chavez, the Coordinator of the K’iche People’s Counsel in Guatemala. She spoke of the struggle of her people, the creativity you need to fight back peacefully and the constant threats on her life and that of other human rights and land defenders.
2013: “Listed entities”, the Anti-Terrorism Act and Implications for Canadian NGOs (NGO forum)
ICLMG, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and Peacebuild co-sponsored a one-day discussion forum for Canadian NGOs in November 2013 to enhance understanding of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), particularly the process of listing terrorist entities, and the implications and possible risks associated with intentional or unintentional interactions with those entities. The recent listing of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network were used as current case studies.
The forum – which included the participation of humanitarian, development, civil liberties and peacebuilding NGOs, as well as lawyers and retired Canadian government officials – explored the implications of terrorist ‘listing’ on peace processes, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and development programs. It addressed the hesitancy and “chill factor” that NGOs may experience due to the ATA when preparing programming activities in certain areas of the world. The forum also looked at the potential implications and risks that the listings pose for NGOs, particularly considering the possible loss of charitable status. The findings and initial conclusions of the forum fed into the development of a follow-up action plan on this issue.
2013: The Human Cost of Killer Drones featuring Farea Al-Muslimi (Public event)
The Human Cost of Killer Drones public event aimed to raise awareness and generate critical debate about the illegal drone strikes perpetrated by the United States against targeted individuals in Yemen and Pakistan, and to denounce their terrorizing effect on populations and counter-productive impact in the war against terror. Speakers included Farea Al-Muslimi, a 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; Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, and John Packer, Constitutions and Process Design Expert in the Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations. The event, held at the University of Ottawa in November 2013, was a success with over 100 people attending in person and many more watching the panel via livestream. Watch the video here.
2010: The NDP and Bill C-42 on the US Secure flight list
The position of ICLMG, informed by the findings of the research and clearinghouse project on the surveillance of travelers, was reflected in the discourse of several members of Parliament in their opposition to Bill C-42, which authorizes the sharing of passenger information with the US Department of Homeland Security and the implementation of the US Secure Flight program (or US no- fly list) by Canadian airlines. US Secure Flight applies to all flights to and from Canada (in addition to Canada’s no fly list), even if said flights do not go through the United States. ICLMG was quoted a half dozen times during the debate in the House. Unfortunately, the bill was adopted in December 2010.
ICLMG Submission to Transport Committee on Bill C-42 Re: U.S. Secure Flight, November 25, 2010
2009 and 2012: United Nations Universal Periodic Review submissions
ICLMG submitted briefs to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council pertaining to the 1st and 2nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada. During the 2009 review, the ICLMG brief was the most quoted in the UN summary of stakeholders’ information.
The UPR is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. It is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, that provides the opportunity for each State under review to declare what actions it has undertaken to improve its human rights record and to fulfill its human rights obligations.
Documents related to the Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle – Canada:
Submission of Information by the ICLMG to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in relation to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Canada to take place in April 2013 October 2012
2009: Majority support for Motion in the House of Commons re the O’Connor recommendations
ICLMG and Amnesty played a lead role in lobbying MP’s to support the implementation of the O’Connor recommendations (including the model for oversight). In December 2009, all MPs in the House, with the exception of Conservatives, voted in favour of a Motion in support of these recommendations. It also called for the government to apologize to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. Unfortunately, to this day, the Harper government has refused to respect that resolution.
2008-2010: Research and Clearinghouse Project on Border Controls and No Fly Lists
ICLMG carried out an action-research and clearinghouse project on the surveillance of travelers. The project investigated the border control practices used to screen travelers at Canadian airports and Canada/U.S. border-crossings, and their impact on the privacy, civil liberties and human rights of Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, permanent residents, and asylum seekers. The project also established a web-based clearinghouse to comprehensively document the number and nature of incidents in which travelers were being intercepted, interrogated, detained and/or denied admission (and/or denied the right to board a plane) in Canada or the U.S.
The final report, release in January 2010, raised serious concerns about the lack of accountability of the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) and the lack of due process associated with no-fly lists. It generated significant media coverage and public interest.
2007 and 2013: The ‘Security Certificate’ Supreme Court cases
ICLMG was an intervener in the Charkaoui case, jointly with the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), in the 2007 landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of procedures for determining the reasonableness of a security certificate and for reviewing detention under a certificate. The Court held that the security certificate process, which prohibited the named individual from examining evidence used to issue the certificate, violated the right to liberty and habeas corpus under section 7, 9 and 10 of the Canadian Charter. As remedy, the Court declared the security certificate regime to be of no force and effect, striking down articles 33 and 77 to 85 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, but suspended the ruling for one year.
A year later the government amended the regime with the appointment of ‘special advocates’. As predicted, the ‘new’ regime was contested once again before the Supreme Court in 2013, spearheaded this time by Mohamed Harkat’s case. For a second time, ICLMG intervened in the case jointly with CCR. Unfortunately, the new system of security certificates was found constitutional by the Supreme Court, although it was recognized that the rights of Mohamed Harkat were violated.
2007: Blocking the re-introduction of the sunset clause in the Anti-terrorism Act
ICLMG’s letter writing campaign to the members of the divided Liberal caucus had a significant impact on the vote to block the re-introduction of the ‘preventative detention’ and the ‘investigative hearing’ provisions to the Anti-terrorism Act, which had been the subject of a 5-year sunset clause. The motion to re-introduce the clauses was defeated. Unfortunately the two measures were re-instated by the Harper government in 2011.
2007: Creation of the Iacobucci Commission of Inquiry
Another recommendation put forward to the O’Connor Commission by ICLMG and the “group of interveners”, which was incorporated in Justice O’Connor’s final recommendations, was to ask for another public inquiry in the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, three other Canadians jailed and tortured in Syria and Egypt.
The government established the Iacobucci Inquiry in 2007. It was mandated to review the nature of Canadian intelligence sharing with countries including the U.S., Syria and Egypt. The commission also sought to determine if Canadian officials were complicit in the alleged abuse.
ICLMG sought and obtained intervener status at the Commission.
Justice Iacobucci concluded that while the Canadian government was not directly responsible for the torture of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, their mistreatment arose indirectly from the actions of Canadian officials, likely as a result of erroneous information sharing.
2006: Book “Illusions of Security” by Maureen Webb
The research and report produced for the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS) formed the basis for the writing of the book Illusions of Security – Democracy in the Post 9/11 World, authored by Maureen Webb. At the time, this book was a provocative read about what governments should and should not be doing to protect us from further terrorist attacks. It took a crucial look at a little-examined aspect of the U.S.-led “war on terror”, the move toward the use of mass, globalized surveillance and a “preemptive” model of security, and its effects on democratic values and human rights around the world.
2006: Civil Society Forum during the International Conference of Privacy Commissioners
ICLMG received a grant from the Office of Privacy Commissioner to organize an international Civil Society Forum that took place in parallel to the International Conference of Privacy Commissioners hosted in Montreal by OPC in 2006. The forum built on the partnerships and networks established during the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS). The Civil Society Forum’s recommendations, as well as the Declaration of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS), were adopted by the world’s Privacy Commissioners during a subsequent international conference that took place the following year in Spain.
2006: Colloquium – The Human Rights of Anti-terrorism
ICLMG co-sponsored, with Amnesty International and Ottawa U. Law Faculty professor Craig Forcese, a colloquium that brought together activist lawyers and legal thinkers from across Canada and around the world to grapple with the interrelationship, synergies and tensions between anti-terrorism and human rights. At the end of the event, experts came together to assemble and finalize The Ottawa Principles on Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights, designed to articulate precise standards in almost a dozen different areas. The colloquium took place at the University of Ottawa in June 2006.
2006: Minority report for the repeal of the Anti-terrorism Act
During the 2006 parliamentary review of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the ICLMG played a determining role in the final position adopted by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, and was instrumental in the drafting of a minority report tabled in Parliament jointly by both opposition parties. The minority report called for the repeal of the Anti-terrorism Act.
2005: The creation of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS)
ICLMG coordinated efforts with its international partners in the planning and launching of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance. The campaign included a major report on global surveillance and a Declaration that called on governments to put an end to massive surveillance and global registration of entire populations. The campaign was the first of its kind to focus in such depth on global surveillance and the Declaration was endorsed by over 300 civil society organizations worldwide.
International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS): The Emergence of a Global Infrastructure for Mass Registration and Surveillance (Executive Summary), April 20, 2005
2004: Arar/O’Connor Commission of Inquiry
Following the return of Maher Arar to Canada, in the fall of 2003, ICLMG played a key role in the mobilization of support in favour of a public inquiry into the events leading to Mr. Arar’s rendition to torture on suspicions of links with terrorism.
In January 2004 the Liberal government announced the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry presided by Justice Dennis O’Connor. The Inquiry was convened to look into the actions of Canadian officials in connection with the Arar case and also to make policy recommendations to the government with respect to oversight and review of the RCMP’s national security activities.
ICLMG was granted intervener status at the Commission and played a pro-active role in monitoring the entire public process as well as coordinating strategic inputs with the “group of civil society interveners”.
In the end the Commission exonerated Maher Arar and found that Canadian officials had given the United States false information about him, for which the Canadian government apologized.
Justice O’Connor also recommended the creation of an integrated oversight and complaint mechanisms for all Canadians intelligence and security agencies, including CSEC, CSIS, the RCMP, and CBSA. The model incorporated many of the elements advocated by ICLMG in it’s final brief to the Commission.
2004: International Public Forum on Anti-Terrorism and the Security Agenda
ICLMG was the convener of an international public forum entitled Anti-Terrorism and the Security Agenda: Impacts on Rights, Freedoms and Democracy. This international gathering of civil society organizations provided an opportunity for:
- the establishment of new partnerships and the beginning of concerted international collaboration among Canadian, European, American and global south organizations, including Statewatch (EU), ACLU (US), Centre for Constitutional Rights, Forum on the Global South, among others;
- the development of a broader understanding and a common analysis of the issues related to security and anti-terrorism; and
- exploring the appropriateness of, and begin the process of developing joint strategies and actions at an international level.
The forum was a success and resulted in the creation of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS). It also set the stage for over a decade of collaboration with international partners on issues of common interest.
2002-2003: Case of Maher Arar
ICLMG was one of the early organizations, along with Amnesty International and CAIR-CAN Canada, to advocate for the repatriation of Canadian citizen Maher Arar from Syria, where he was detained and tortured by Syrian intelligence for a year at the request of the US, on the basis of erroneous information shared by Canadian officials.