Author Archives: ICLMG CSILC

Canadian Public Deserves Answers and Action Over Troubling New National Security Report

December 18, 2018, OTTAWA—Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and the Canadian government must go further than simply reviewing the wording of the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada, and take action to address the unfounded allegations and stigmatization of Muslim and Sikh communities in the report.

“When the most lethal acts of politically-inspired violence of the past decade in Canada come from individuals espousing extreme right, misogynistic and racist ideologies, how is it that this threat continues to be minimized by state security agencies?” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). “The public, and especially the Muslim and Sikh communities, deserve clear answers, and not just an internal review of the wording of the report.”

The ICLMG shares the concerns of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization, and the Canadian Anti-Hate Coalition, all of whom raised the alarm last week over the stigmatization of Muslims and Sikhs, and the downplaying of right-wing violence in the latest threat assessment report.

While Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said that officials will review the inclusion of Shia, Sunni and Sikh as qualifiers in the text, the ICLMG says the problem runs deeper.

“There is no doubt that Canada faces threats from those inspired by violent groups like Daesh. But the use of vague qualifiers like ‘Islamist extremism’ and the refusal to acknowledge the real threat posed by white supremacists and their organizations, which already led to tragedy in Quebec City in 2017, continues to frame Canada’s Muslim communities as a threat, and not one of the primary targets, of hatred and violence,” said McSorley.

It is also highly troubling to see, without evidence or justification, the sudden inclusion of Sikh (Khalistani) extremism as a threat to Canada’s national security. “For the first time, Canada has included ‘Sikh extremism’ in a terrorism assessment report, without any evidence of recent violence or credible threats in Canada. While the tragedy of the Air India bombing still weighs heavy in Canada, it cannot be used to tarnish a community decades later,” McSorley added.

This report fits a troubling trend that the ICLMG has observed over the past 15 years, where vague security concerns with little transparency or clear basis have been used to increase police and security powers, and to place greater limitations and restraints on civil liberties. When compared to the scope of reported national security threats, these measures are disproportionate. For example, in the 2018 threat assessment, one of the “plots” used to support the report’s focus is the so-called “Canada Day” bomb plot from 2013. However, both accused in the case have been released after an appeals judge found they had been entrapped by the RCMP. While the government continues to appeal the case, it is questionable that this would be cited – without clarification – as one of only nine key events from the past 12 years.

The ICLMG is calling on the government to take immediate action to revise the 2018 threat assessment report, and to meet with concerned civil society groups to form a process of greater clarity, transparency and accountability in its national security operations and assessments.


More information:

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

UN Report: Canada failed to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians

For immediate release

Canada failed to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians, says UN Committee Against Torture

11/12/2018, OTTAWA – A new UN report is once again criticizing Canada for failing to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians.

The UN Committee Against Torture just finished its regular review of Canada. In its report, it found that Canada has continued to fail to provide full redress for five Canadians who were tortured abroad, with Canada’s complicity. They are:

  • Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, who were all subjects of the Iacobucci Inquiry, which found that Canadian security agents were complicit in their torture abroad;
  • Omar Khadr, who was illegally imprisoned, and tortured in the Guantanamo Bay prison;
  • Abousfian Abdelrazik, who was arbitrarily imprisoned, and tortured in Sudan, while the Canadian government blocked his attempts to return home.

Canadian officials have been found or are alleged to have been complicit in torture in each of these cases.

For the first four men, Canada has provided cursory apologies and financial compensation. Regarding Abousfian Abdelrazik, the government has been criticized for refusing to negotiate a settlement or proceed to trial, and instead taking action that will draw the case out — possibly for years.

The Committee reported that Canada has failed to meet some of the most important requirements of redress under the Convention Against Torture, namely:

  • Investigation into those complicit in torture and mistreatment, and criminal prosecution where warranted;
  • Verification of the facts, and full and public disclosure of the truth, ideally through a public inquiry; and,
  • Official declaration or judicial decision restoring the dignity, the reputation and the rights of the victims. Particularly in the case of Omar Khadr, the government and political officials have continued to share misleading and prejudicial information about the violation of his rights.

The Committee also noted Canada’s continuing failure to provide adequate training about Convention duties for law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors and medical personnel.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), which raised these concerns in a joint report to the Committee, welcomed the findings and are calling for the government to take immediate action to meet its legal obligations to oppose torture and ill-treatment.

“The duty to provide redress for torture, one of the most egregious violations of a person’s human rights, does not end with an ambiguous — or in the case of Omar Khadr, obfuscating — apology and financial compensation,” said Gail Davidson, Executive Director of LRWC. “We must also see a full investigation to discover the facts, public disclosure of the truth, acknowledgement of the responsibility of Canadian officials, and prosecutions of those responsible for the torture and other ill-treatment.”

For example, the government’s statement of regret regarding Omar Khadr referred to Omar Khadr’s torture, ill-treatment and illegal detention as an “ordeal abroad” and expressed regret about “any role Canadian officials may have played” in “any resulting harm.” Another statement attributed the settlement as a measure to prevent costs of litigation. These statements are not true apologies and fail to meet the Convention requirements of redress. Similar issues exist in the cases of Abousfian Abdelrazik and others.

Ensuring in full this kind of redress is necessary to prevent reoccurrence of participation in torture by Canadian officials.

“By making all facts public, we are able to bring the changes necessary to end Canada’s complicity in torture. By pursuing those found to be complicit, we can end impunity and make sure that those who may wish to push, or entirely skirt, the boundaries of Canadian and international law know that they cannot do so unpunished,” added Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG.

Marking the seriousness of these concerns, the Committee also took the extraordinary step of requesting that the Canadian government file an interim report in one year, as opposed to the usual four-year review period, explaining the steps the government has taken to address the failure to provide full redress.

The submission from LRWC & ICLMG is online here.

The full report from the UN Committee Against Torture can be found here.


For more information:

Gail Davidson, Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Tim McSorley, National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Canada is deporting a man to torture. Will we let that happen?

By Anne Dagenais Guertin & Tim McSorley

This is a story about a man who came to Canada as a refugee out of fear of persecution in his home country. Several years later, though, he was jailed without charge based on allegations from a secret informant who failed a lie-detector test and whom the judge refused to make available for cross-examination.

After his arrest, the government proceeded to destroy the original “evidence” against him. Only a summary was given to a special, security-cleared lawyer, who wasn’t allowed to discuss the evidence with the person in question. The process that followed, based on a special law, was so skewed that the courts were allowed to make their decisions based on information not normally admissible in a court of law.

It doesn’t end there. Over the next 16 years, this person faced constant monitoring and harassment by government officials, three-and-a-half years of detention, including one in solitary confinement, and years of house arrest but has never event been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

On top of all this, he is now facing deportation to torture because he is not a Canadian citizen.

After hearing this story, do you think it unfair? Do you think it is shocking that this could happen in Canada? Do you believe this needs to stop — and should never have happened in the first place?

What if we told you the person we are talking about is a Muslim man named Mohamed Harkat, who Canada is attempting to deport based on secret, unproven national security allegations? Would that change your answers to the questions above?

Unfounded fear and hatred of Muslims, migrants and refugees, already long-standing, became worse after Sept. 11, 2001, and are now acceptable public discourse. The examples are many: Politicians winning elections on hatred of Muslims and foreigners; fear-mongering over the refugee caravan and asylum seekers forced to cross the U.S.-Canada border between official points of entry because of the Safe Third Country Agreement; and the stunning increase of reported hate crimes in Canada in 2017, up 151 per cent for Muslims alone.

The fear of Muslims is now so pervasive that, in 2017, a young man was convinced that committing a terrorist attack and killing six worshippers at a Quebec City Mosque would protect people… from a terrorist attack. Fear leads us to do illogical things. And it leads us to renounce long-held principles that we otherwise say define us as Canadians, including freedom of thought and religion, the prohibition of torture, the fundamental right to due process and a fair trial, and the principle of innocence until proven guilty before a court of law.

Our point is that we are being duped: duped into giving up our rights and our ideals — including a more just and equal society for all, legally, economically and socially — through fear-mongering. We are being distracted by people who want to hoard more money and power for themselves by pointing the finger at people simply in search of a better life. People who come here in fear of persecution in their home country. People like Mohamed Harkat.

Moe, as he is affectionately known to his family, friends and supporters (including the ICLMG, fighting alongside him for the past decade), arrived in Canada in 1995 and obtained refugee status in 1997. On Dec. 10, 2002, he was arrested outside his home in Ottawa, alleged to be a threat to national security and subjected to a security certificate. He spent years in jail despite never having been accused let alone convicted of a crime, and was released on bail in 2006 with the strictest conditions in Canadian history. He has been happily married to a French-Canadian woman for 19 years, he is a hard worker and is loved by his family, community and colleagues.

Now he faces deportation to Algeria where he will be tortured.

It’s not a fear, it’s a fact. Canada gave him refugee status in 1997 because his fear of persecution was deemed founded. Now that his name is tainted by unproven, secret national security allegations, he will be detained and tortured if he is sent back to Algeria. And we are not the only ones to acknowledge this: GermanyFrancethe U.K. and the Supreme Court of Ireland consider it unsafe to deport refugees to Algeria.

At Moe’s last bail hearing, CSIS did not file a threat assessment, and his bail conditions have been significantly lowered over the years, including the removal of his ankle monitor five years ago, demonstrating he is no longer considered a threat.

However, Moe and his wife Sophie continue to be harassed by government agents and live in fear that Moe could be deported any day. Their health and quality of life have been greatly impacted for too long. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has the power to stop Moe’s deportation to torture and allow him to stay in Canada with his family and friends. He can prevent Canada from once again being complicit in torture, and he can rectify the great injustice that has been done to Moe in violation of what Canada claims to be: a country respectful of human rights and civil liberties.

You can change that today, on International Human Rights Day. Take action by calling Prime Minister Trudeau, sending a letter to your MP, signing the petition – and more! – to stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat.

It’s the right thing to do.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

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