News from ICLMG

Letter to PM Trudeau and Minister Goodale: Stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat

Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. We have sent this letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and the Ministers of Public Safety, Justice and Immigration to urge them to stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat. 

Take action!

Join us by sending your own letter – feel free to use ours as a template – to prevent the addition of Moe’s name to the long list of victims of torture. Here are their email addresses: pm@pm.gc.ca, justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca, ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca, jody.Wilson-Raybould@parl.gc.ca, ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca. Thank you!


Ottawa, June 26, 2018

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council
80 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Goodale,

I am writing you in my capacity as the National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. The ICLMG is the only national coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that has the mandate to defend civil liberties and human rights from the negative impact of the fight against terrorism in Canada. The coalition, founded in 2002, brings together 45 national NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups, environmental organizations, human rights and civil liberties advocates, as well as groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada.

Today, June 26th, marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. We write to you to ensure that your actions, or rather inaction, will not lead to the addition of  Mohamed Harkat’s name to the long list of victims of torture.

Mohamed Harkat, a United Nations Convention refugee who has lived in Canada for 22 years, faces deportation to Algeria under a security certificate.

Today, his fate lies with you. He could be deported to torture and face a likely death, or he could be granted the status to continue to live a peaceful life in Ottawa with his wife Sophie Lamarche Harkat, and his family and friends. For them, he is simply “Moe”, a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. They have been living in constant fear since deportation proceedings began three years ago.

The ICLMG has closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002. Under the very problematic regime of security certificates, Mr. Harkat was imprisoned in maximum security for 43 months, spent years under house arrest, and was imposed some of the most severe bail conditions in Canadian history. And that is without ever having been charged with, let alone convicted of a crime. The original “evidence” against Mr Harkat was destroyed and the allegations are based on the testimony of an informant who failed a lie detector test and was never cross-examined in court.

We have also followed the four other cases of security certificates and we continue to denounce the secrecy surrounding them, the lack of due process, the indefinite detention of the suspects, the violation of the solicitor-client privilege, and the continuous abuse of human rights involved at all levels.

In 2008, we testified at the Senate Special Committee on Anti-Terrorism regarding the security certificate regime. Our position was and still is that “the only way to meet the requirements guaranteed by the Charter and International covenants, and in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, is through prosecutions under the Criminal code.”

Today, as we have done for the last 15 years, we keep denouncing the highly problematic use of intelligence in these cases and the lack of access to the “evidence” against the suspects, which makes it impossible for them to mount a defense.

On October 26, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau clearly stated: “I hope people remember to demand of governments, this one and all future governments, that nobody ever has their fundamental rights violated either through inaction or deliberate action by Canadian governments. Nobody ever deserves to be tortured. And when a Canadian government is either complicit in that or was not active enough in preventing it, there needs to be responsibility taken.”

We are thus reminding you today to enforce Canada’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, uphold Mohamed Harkat’s rights, and stop his deportation order to torture right now. We don’t want one of Prime Minister Trudeau’s successors to have to apologize and pay millions of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars for this ongoing human rights abuse years from now.

Furthermore, under an opening in the law governing security certificates, section 42.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Minister Goodale has the power to decide that allowing Mr. Harkat to stay in Canada is not contrary to the national interest. The courts have consistently relaxed Mr. Harkat’s bail conditions over the years, and CSIS has not even bothered to file a risk assessment in his last bail hearing in the fall of 2017. As his work colleagues and thousands of supporters have asserted, and as court assessments and psychiatrists have attested to, letting Mr. Harkat stay would not be contrary to Canadians’ interest. Moreover, not deporting a man to torture and likely death is clearly in Canada’s national interest.

Consequently, we urge Minister Goodale to use this unique position and the discretion afforded under the law to exempt Mohamed Harkat from deportation, end 16 years of psychological torture and harassment by CBSA agents that has had a huge documented toll on Mr. Harkat’s health — including chronically low appetite and concentration, recurrent nightmares, chronic depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder — as well as on Mrs. Harkat’s health, and let him stay and live with his wife and community in Canada.

Such a decision to end these deportation to torture proceedings would be wholly consistent with England’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which settled this issue in 2016 when it ordered Theresa May to stop deporting Algerian nationals at risk of torture, as well as with the Irish Supreme Court, which last July blocked a deportation to Algeria because of the real risk of torture.

If you would like more information in order to make this decision, we urge you to meet with Mohamed and Sophie Harkat, Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada and/or myself. We can arrange such a meeting at your earliest convenience.

We would appreciate a response to our letter as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Cc: The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

PDF of the letter

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!
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Government fails to protect rights as it rushes national security bill through second-reading

The Liberal government has once again ignored important calls to amend its new national security bill, placing fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada and internationally at risk.

Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, was rushed through a second-reading vote this week, with governing Liberal MPs voting as a block to approve it without any further amendments, despite calls from civil society and opposition MPs to take action.

“So-called ‘national security concerns’ cannot come at the cost of privacy, free expression, due process and government transparency,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “Once again, despite promises of openness, the government has avoided fixing the most egregious aspects of this bill.”

The Liberals have touted Bill C-59 as being a “fix” for the previous government’s controversial Bill C-51 (the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015). While it brings some improvements, and saw some changes at committee, Bill C-59:

  • Continues to allow CSIS to engage in secret threat disruption powers
  • Maintains the secretive No Fly List, which violates due process and has never been proven to be effective
  • Grants sweeping new surveillance powers to both the CSE and CSIS, including the collection of vaguely defined “publicly available information”
  • Will allow the CSE to engage in broad and powerful new “active cyber operations” with little oversight

The government has also avoided improving on the strongest part of the bill: new national security review and oversight bodies. For example, while it is a positive that the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency will have the power to review all national security activities, it will only have nine members and no binding recommendation powers, likely hindering its effectiveness.

Even if review and oversight were improved, though, it still would not make up for bad laws, warns the ICLMG. “The NSIRA and the Intelligence Commissioner will only be able to enforce the rules set out in Bill C-59. With the current weak levels of authorization and secretive processes, these agencies risk becoming rubber stamps for a system that is broken from the start,” said McSorley. “If the government is truly committed to avoiding more cases like that of Maher Arar, or the recent ODAC debacle at CSIS, they need to take action before Bill C-59 is passed.”

– 30 –

Contact:

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator, ICLMG
613-241-5298

About the ICLMG:

The ICLMG is a national coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that was established in the aftermath of the September, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The coalition brings together some 43 NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups, environmental organizations, human rights and civil liberties advocates, as well as groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada. In the context of the so-called ‘war on terror’, the mandate of the ICLMG is to defend the civil liberties and human rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, federal and provincial laws, and international human rights instruments.

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!
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ICLMG’s comments on states’ recommendations for Canada’s UPR

On June 6, 2018, the ICLMG presented at a meeting organized by Heritage Canada for civil society organizations to present their priorities and solutions for Canada’s implementation of the recommendations put forward by UN member states for Canada’s Universal Periodic Review on human rights. The following was our intervention.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is a national coalition of 45 Canadian civil society groups. The coalition’s mandate is to protect human rights from the negative impact of national security and the “war on terror”.

  1. Regarding Recommendation 119: Strengthen framework to prevent misuse of freedom of expression to incite violence and glorification of terrorists as martyrs (India): While we support hate speech laws which restrict speech that incites violence, we would oppose the implementation of laws that would restrict speech regarding the second part of this recommendation, the “glorification of terrorists as martyrs.” Freedom of speech should not be restricted in such vague ways, as we have seen how these types of laws have been used to criminalize dissent and communities all around the world.
  2. As our work is focused on national security, the ICLMG will be offering ways of implementing the only four recommendations, out of 28, that mention national security agencies:
  • 108: Stop racial profiling and other discriminatory practices by the police and security agencies (India);
  • 109: Combat racist hate crimes and racial profiling by the police, security agencies and border agents (South Africa);
  • 110: Take measures to prohibit targeting, profiling and harassment of Muslims by its police, security agencies and other authorities (Pakistan);
  • 111: Take effective measures to avoid that the police, security agencies and border agents continue to carry out day-to-day controls with a racist bias, against indigenous peoples, Muslims, Afro- Canadians and other minority ethnic groups (Ecuador);

In order to implement these recommendations, the ICLMG proposes the following general solution: The Canadian government must implement major changes to national security laws that disproportionally and unfairly target Muslim and Arab communities, Indigenous communities and activists, including activists against anti-Black racism. More precisely:

– Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, which is currently being debated in Parliament, must be significantly changed, and if not, should be removed. The current wording of the bill would legalize mass surveillance, maintain the no-fly list regime (which violates mobility rights and due process), and implement new and dangerous cyberattack powers which exposes the population to retaliation — effectively making people in Canada less safe.

– The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, known as Bill C-51, will not be fixed by Bill C-59, as was promised by the government. The ATA must be repealed as well, as it expanded the definition of threats to national security to include dissenting activities; the powers of CSIS, our domestic spying agency, to act more like police; and the sharing of information in ways that violate privacy.

– The security certificate regime should be abolished as it violates due process by using secret information that is kept from security certificate targets and their lawyers;

– The extradition law should be heavily reformed as it allowed for the extradition and detention for 3 years without charge of a Canadian citizen, Dr Hassan Diab, in France. An independent and public inquiry into the case of Dr. Diab is also necessary;

– In terms of actually enforcing its international obligations against torture, Canada should hold a public inquiry into the Canadian Army turning over Afghan detainees to the Afghan armed forces, who were then tortured. The Canadian government must also revise its new ministerial directives on information tied to torture, removing the mention that such information can be used under exceptional circumstances and adding a complete ban on such information being used.

– Canada must implement better protection of the rights of travellers at the US border and in airports, as shown by the numerous accounts of abuse, especially by Muslim and racialized people. One way to increase that protection is the repeal of the Preclearance Act, 2016, (which used to be Bill C-23). It allows US officers to strip search a traveler, even if a Canadian agent declines to do so; it allows US officers to carry firearms; and it removes the ability of travelers to withdraw from preclearance areas without further interrogation and without triggering grounds for suspicion. The ICLMG is also concerned with Canadian MPs’ assertions during debates on Bill C-23 that they were unable to strengthen protections when traveling to the US because of an agreement signed between the countries’ governments. Human rights, and the democratic, legislative process, should trump agreements signed without public parliamentary debate and scrutiny.

There must be a general stop to the incremental increases of powers of national security agencies without proof that it is necessary or effective, and at always greater cost to our civil liberties, especially those of Muslim, Arab and Indigenous communities. Several UN special rapporteurs have warned against these dangerous trends and urged states to reverse them.

There also needs to be a general and radical rethinking of national security. The current approach perpetuates and reinforces a state apparatus that both stands on racism and colonialism, and furthers them by implicating whole communities that are wrongly perceived as threats.

To read ICLMG’s full submission to the United Nations for Canada’s UPR, visit: http://iclmg.ca/iclmgs-submission-for-canadas-un-universal-periodic-review/.

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

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