Author Archives: ICLMG CSILC

New Ministerial Direction falls short on fulfilling goal of preventing the sharing, requesting or use of information tied to torture

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZPAAAAJGQxNjE5NjEzLThmY2YtNGJmNS04ZDk5LTEyMWUxZjMwZTM1ZQOttawa – “Canada has made obligations under international agreements to in no way support torture, and has made public statements to that effect. This includes when it comes to information and intelligence linked to torture,” says Tim McSorley, the ICLMG’s national coordinator.

“The Liberal government has issued new directives on the collection, request and use of information tied to torture that, while they go further than previous rules, still do not meet those obligations,” he adds.

The ICLMG’s concerns include:

  • That the limit on the sharing and requesting of information is still set to whether there was a “substantial risk” of torture. This is the same threshold as previous directives, and remains too high a limit for rejecting certain kinds of information.
  • That even where a substantial risk of mistreatment is present, mitigating factors such as assurances and caveats can still allow for the sharing or requesting of information. There is no information on how those caveats and assurances are enforced once information is shared or requested.
  • That, regarding the use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual, the government only lays out three situations where this information cannot be used – leaving open other potential uses, such as initiating further investigations, developing profiles, or perhaps even placing them on the no-fly list.
  • That there is a lack of direction around the retention of information: For example, if information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual is provided to the government in an unsolicited manner, would that information be destroyed, or would it be retained for future potential use?
  • That, as in other reporting on national security issues, what will be shared publicly will not be enough to ensure true accountability and transparency in how information is shared, requested or used.
  • That information requested or shared by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is not covered by these directives.

The new directive does make some important changes:

  • The ICLMG welcomes the government’s more explicit wording in the directives regarding its opposition to the sharing, requesting or use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual (although policies must be amended to support that wording).
  • The ICLMG welcomes the elimination of “substantial damage or destruction of property” as an exception allowing the use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual.
  • The ICLMG welcomes the clearer responsibilities for the affected agencies to report on their use of this kind of information to the Minister and to the appropriate review bodies.
  • The ICLMG also appreciates the openness of the government in releasing these directives, allowing for public scrutiny, discussion and debate.

These improvements, though, do not account for what the ICLMG sees as the continued weaknesses in Canada’s policy on information sharing with foreign entities.

“We must be clear: so long as governments are willing to share, request or use information likely produced from mistreatment – even in exceptional circumstances – they are contributing to the value and propagation of this information on the international stage,” says McSorley.

As the government itself notes in the new directive, information obtained through the mistreatment of an individual – especially in instances of torture – is known for being unreliable.

The prohibition of torture is such a categorical and un-ambivalent principle that the only acceptable directives regarding the sharing, requesting or use of information is that it is guaranteed to not have been obtained through torture, or will not lead to torture.

On multiple occasions, the ICLMG has expressed its concerns to the Minister of Public Safety and the federal government, along with its willingness to discuss these directives. We believe that a direct consultation on these directives with the minister before their publication could have helped address some of these concerns, and we continue to offer to meet to help strengthen them in the future.

– 30 –

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.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

LIVESTREAMED EVENT: C-51 two years later: Will Bill C-59 restore human rights?

21192530_1659840497360520_7719291228228904194_nThis panel is the first of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group’s National Security & Human Rights Speaker Series, sponsored by CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

ICLMG will be hosting one panel per month for 5 months on an important and timely issue related to national security and human rights in Canada. Stay tuned for the next dates and topics!

Join us for our first panel: “C-51 two years later: Will Bill
C-59 restore human rights?”

When: Tuesday, September 26, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Where: 25OneCommunity, 251 Bank Street, 2nd floor, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3

What: Micheal Vonn (BCCLA), Tamir Israel (CIPPIC, University of Ottawa) and Paul Champ (Champ and Associates) will be discussing the different aspects of the bill – oversight & review, information sharing, new powers for CSIS and CSE, the no-fly list – what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s ugly.

Our National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, will be moderating, and we will have a Q&A after each presentation. Le panel sera en anglais mais vous pourrez poser vos questions en français.

The event is FREE and open to everyone. We will be collecting donations in support of our work. RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends!

If you cannot attend, the event will also be livestreamed on our Facebook page: facebook.com/iclmg.csilcAnd you can support our work by giving at iclmg.ca/donate.

In the meantime, read and share our Open Letter to the Federal Government on C-59: New National Security Bill Fails to Reverse C-51 And Introduces Serious New Problems.

We hope to see you there!
______________
Who are our panelists?

Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BCCLA since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics. She is a regular guest instructor for UBC in HIV/AIDS Care. She has been honoured for her work in HIV/AIDS with both an AccolAIDS Award and a Red Ribbon Award, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Keith Sacré Library Champion Award for support, guidance and assistance given to the BC library community. Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech. She is currently a collaborator on Big Data Surveillance, a multi-year research projected lead by Queens University. She is an Advisory Board Member of Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression and an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International.

Tamir Israel joined CIPPIC as staff lawyer after articling with the clinic. He conducts research and advocacy on various digital rights-related issues, with a focus on online privacy and anonymity, net neutrality, intellectual property, intermediary liability, electronic surveillance, spam, e-commerce, and Internet governance generally. His advocacy activities have taken him before the courts, various regulators, parliamentary committees, and international Internet governance fora. Prior to joining CIPPIC, Tamir received a J.D. from the University of Toronto and a B.A. from the University of British Columbia. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Privacy International and lectures on Internet regulation matters at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Graduate & Post-doctoral Studies.

Paul Champ is a litigation lawyer with a focus on human rights, employment, labour, and public interest law. Paul has developed a practice in national security law and has acted as counsel in several important constitutional law cases dealing with fundamental human rights, including the settlement for Benamar Benatta, rendered to the US by Canadian officials and emprisoned for 5 years without charges, the case of Abdelrazik v. Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which the court ruled that Canadian government officials violated a Canadian citizen’s Charter rights by arranging for his unlawful detention by Sudanese authorites and refusing to provide a passport, and the case of Canada v. Khadr (2008), which found that Canadian government officials violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interrogating a Canadian youth detained by U.S. in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

Open Letter to the Federal Government on C-59: New National Security Bill Fails to Reverse C-51 And Introduces Serious New Problems

5023-07-parliamentOttawa — Today, over 40 organisations and individuals from across Canadian civil society issued a joint letter to government that lays out overarching concerns with Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters. Bill C-59 makes some meaningful and necessary improvements to Canada’s national security regime, but it fails to reverse the legacy of its unpopular predecessor, Bill C-51, and introduces serious new problems. It specifically falls short in mitigating the discriminatory impact national security activities continue to have on vulnerable minorities, which has in the past included conduct that contributed to the torture of Canadians.

The signatories all share the concern that — despite the message clearly delivered by Canadians during the federal government’s extensive public consultation on national security — the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter are still not where they belong, at the core of Canada’s national security framework.

“Since 9/11, our disproportionate fear of terrorism has been used to slowly increase the powers of intelligence and security agencies without proof that these powers are necessary to keep us safe, and with always greater risks and impact on our civil liberties. This is called the national security creep,” says Tim McSorley, the National Coordinator for the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “We must not allow C-59 to continue this dangerous and damaging trend.”

Bill C-59 introduces some improvements to our national security framework, while reversing some, but certainly not all, of former Bill C-51’s excesses. It creates important new bodies to review and control national security activities; introduces a detailed and explicit new law for Canada’s signals intelligence agency, the CSE; adds new protections for the rights of youth involved in terrorism-related offences; and reforms the terrorist speech offences introduced by Bill C-51.

The signatories also identify a number of specific aspects of Bill C-59 which we agree require serious attention and meaningful change, including:

  • The newly-renamed Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act still permits departments to disclose far too much information in their pursuit of questionable security objectives;
  • The no-fly list still lacks adequate due process while proposed redress mechanisms remain unfunded;
  • The bill fails to reverse the low threshold Bill C-51 set for terrorism peace bonds;
  • The preventative detention powers introduced in 2001 are still in place and remain deeply problematic;
  • The risk for abuse of CSIS disruption powers is reduced, but the government has yet to demonstrate either their necessity or constitutionality;
  • The newly created oversight agencies lack the guarantees necessary to ensure their effectiveness;
  • The general risk that our security activities will once again contribute to torture remains;
  • CSE “active” cyber security powers (i.e. offensive hacking) are introduced without a rationale for their necessity or measures to adequately prevent abuse;
  • The new bill fails to reverse the erosion of due process C-51 extended in security certificate proceedings; and
  • The bill legitimizes troubling conduct, including mass surveillance by our foreign intelligence agency and extensive data-mining.

ICLMG also wishes to highlight these additional problems with C-59:

  • Information-sharing in particular could disproportionally affect Muslim and Arab communities, Indigenous land and water protectors, and political and environmental activists (e.g. BDS supporters) under SCIDA, even with the changes to the definition of a threat to national security.
  • Surveillance and criminalization of dissent is an ongoing concern made even bigger with CSIS new powers and recent allegations of discrimination.
  • The bill leaves intact the possibilities of refoulement to countries where there are risks of torture and the ministerial directives on torture, although the latter have been under review since February 2016.
  • The creation of new review bodies should not be incumbent on the acceptance of new spying and hacking powers. The two should be considered and debated independently.
  • Finally, it would be useful to involve civil society, notably ICLMG, in the appointment process of the NSIRA members – to ensure the diversity, efficiency and transparency of the agency.

The letter discusses these issues, and more, in greater detail. Read the full letter here.

Here is what our members and other signatories have to say about Bill C-59:

“Bill C-59 improves on some, but certainly not all, of the troubling human rights problems that were at the heart of C-51. It also gives rise to new concerns and fails to address longstanding human rights failings that predate C-51. Human rights should be the very foundation to how Canada protects and delivers national security; with C-59 it is clear that there is still more work to be done to get us there.” – Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

“Some of the most egregious aspects of C-51 have been tamed, but the new bill still leave a lot to be desired. From no-fly lists to CSIS ‘disruption’ powers, there are many provisions that will need to be amended before C-59 passes.” – Vincent Gogolek Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

“We’re concerned that Canadians will see the positive aspects of this Bill, such as strengthened oversight of security agencies, and not notice the intrusive powers that it keeps or even strengthens – powers which will dangerously erode civil liberties.” – Kevin Malseed, Inter Pares

“Bill C-59 brings forward important and useful changes to Canada’s existing anti-terrorism laws, but it leaves us with ongoing concerns about the lack of due process around the no-fly list and the strengthening and deepening of CSIS powers, given the damage the spy agency has done to Canadian Muslims. Well known Canadian Muslims have been discriminatorily profiled and rendered to torture by Canada for no reason other than their faith and identity. At the same time, Canadian Muslims have been subject to rising hate crimes and violent attacks by individuals for the same reason. National security policy that is incapable of protecting all Canadians equally is not worthy of our endorsement, even if it is a significant improvement over more odious previous legislation.” – Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, NCCM – National Council of Canadian Muslims

“Major parts of Bill C-51 were contrary to the Constitution and common sense. With some improvements in Bill C-59, we are no longer at rock bottom lows for deprivations of our fundamental freedoms. However, amendments that only scratch the surface of oversight of agencies with unprecedented powers will not suffice. More safeguards and accountability measures against abuse of power are required.” – Faisal Mirza, Chair of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association

“All Canadian laws must comply with the Charter. Bill C-59 tries harder than its predecessor, but fails to fix some of the unconstitutional elements CCLA contested in our challenge of Bill C-51. Troublingly, C-59 also allows intelligence agencies to engage in conduct that threatens freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, and public safety. The government has taken a first step, but a great deal more is needed. Canada must get it right on national security.” – Cara Zwibel, Acting General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)

“While Bill C-59 contains many positive changes, including reforming the unconstitutional “terrorist speech” crime, it unnecessarily extends the powers of Canada’s spy agencies in ways that could seriously undermine our privacy and free expression rights.” – Tom Henheffer, Executive Director, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)

“Now that Parliament is returning, we are eager to see the government commit to improving the reforms brought about in Bill C-59, in line with the concerns expressed by Canadians throughout the government’s own consultation. In particular, we need to see mass surveillance devices such as Stingrays and extensive information sharing provisions addressed, as well as legislative protections for encrypted communication technologies.” – Laura Tribe, Executive Director, OpenMedia

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.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button