News from ICLMG

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.”

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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

What we’ve been up to so far in 2018!

The first four months of 2018 have been busy! Here are some of the highlights since the beginning of the year that you may have missed:

Return of Dr. Hassan Diab and Open Letter

After three years and two months detained in isolation in France without being charged, Hassan finally returned to Canada on Monday January 15, 2018. We are proud to have contributed since its beginning to the campaign to obtain justice for Hassan Diab. The fight is not over. French prosecutors have appealed his release. Furthermore, we have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau calling for an independent and public inquiry into Hassan’s ordeal, to ensure that this abuse and injustice never happen again. Watch our live-stream of Hassan’s press conference after his return:

Bill C-59: Op-ed, Amendments & New Action

Our National Coordinator Tim McSorley live-tweeted all the SECU committee clause-by-clause meetings on Bill C-59, the National Security Act of 2017, where committee members vote on amendments proposed after hearing all the testimonies. Here is a summary of the meetings, and the passed and rejected amendments.

Tim and BCCLA’s Policy Director Micheal Vonn wrote an op-ed denouncing three of the main problems with Bill C-59. And based on these three main issues, we launched a new action calling on the SECU committee to fix C-59 and protect our human rights.

We released our last video explainer on Bill C-59, the National Security Act of 2017!

Bill C-59 not only doesn’t fix C-51, it adds huge powers of mass surveillance and cyber operations, and immunity from the law for our spy agencies! Watch for more details.

Check out all the C-59 videos. Don’t hesitate to share it on Facebook  & Twitter. And to subscribe to our channel to be notified when our next videos come out.

We submitted our brief and testified at the Public Safety Committee on Bill C-59!

We’ve submitted an extensive analysis of Bill C-59 to the House Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU). In our brief, we present realistic and necessary recommendations, suggestions and areas of examination that we believe will help to strengthen not just Canadians’ rights, but also our security. A summary of our recommendations is listed here. You can read the full brief here. And share it on Facebook and Twitter.

 January 29 Commemoration & Resources against Islamophobia

January 29, 2018 marked the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Quebec City mosque that killed 6 men and wounded 19. ICLMG is committed to combating Islamophobia as it is both a cause and a consequence of the racist foundations and applications of national security. To highlight the important day, we attended the commemoration events at the Human Rights Monument and Ottawa City Hall, we supported the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ call to designate January 29 as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and we put together a list of resources to contribute to the fight against hate and for equality.

Support for the Muskrat Falls action

We have been denouncing the criminalization of the Labrador Land Protectors and their allies, as well as the criminalization of journalist Justin Brake – an unprecedented violation of press freedom in Canadian recent history — who was covering the protests against the dam project in Muskrat Falls which will poison or drown the people living downstream. On Monday, Labrador Land Protectors came to Parliament Hill to deliver photos of people whose lives are in danger to all federal MPs who are supporting the dam project with $9.2 billion. We supported the action by publicizing it and live streaming the whole day. Watch the main action on the Hill below, and all four videos of the whole day of action here:

Justice for Mariano Abarca  

We supported actions to bring awareness and justice for Mariano Abarca, a key leader in his community’s fight against the social and environmental impacts of a Canadian company’s mining operations who was murdered eight years ago. All of the suspects in his murder were connected to the Calgary-based company, Blackfire Exploration; there never has been a full, impartial investigation. This case is being brought to Canada now because documents obtained through Access to Information show that the Canadian Embassy in Mexico supported Blackfire extensively and is now being accused of being implicated in Abarca’s death. Watch the panel we livestreamed for more details & take action.

Redress system for #NoFlyListKids!  

We are proud to have supported the #NoFlyKids group in the struggle for a redress system for false positives. They did an amazing job! The ICLMG, among other advocates, have long called for a centralized redress system to address these false positives. However, a redress system is just one piece of the puzzle in fixing Canada’s No Fly List program. The ICLMG will thus continue to urge lawmakers to repeal the No Fly List, including by amending Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017. Read our press release

Standing with Honduras!

On May 1st, the ICLMG, alongside several other individuals and groups, participated in a rally on Parliament Hill and live streamed an evening panel in support of a campaign for #Justice4Berta, and to #FreeEdwinEspinal and #FreePoliticalPrisonersHN in Honduras. Watch Honduras Solidarity Network’s coordinator Karen Spring’s intervention at the rally here, our National Coordinator Tim McSorley’s short speech at the rally here, and the evening panel here.

We presented at CUPE’s National Meeting 

Our National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, presented on the work of ICLMG and specifically on Bill C-59, the National Security Act of 2017 at a meeting of the National Global Justice Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), one of our member organizations. There was a great reception from CUPE representatives from all over the country and a renewed commitment for the protection and promotion of civil liberties.


We presented at the CAUT Council Meeting 

Our Communications and Research Coordinator, Anne Dagenais Guertin, and ICLMG’s steering committee’s co-chair and program manager at Inter Pares, Kevin Malseed, presented on ICLMG’s work, victories and upcoming campaigns at the 2018 Canadian Association of University Teachers Council Meeting at Le Château Laurier last Friday. CAUT is one of our long-time member organizations.

Our News Digest

We continue to publish our weekly News Digest that you all receive. If you know anyone interested in national security and/or human rights, send them an invite to sign up!

That’s it for 2018 so far!

If you think our work is important, please support the ICLMG!

We do not receive any funding from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties so we need your support to continue our work. If you’d rather not use Patreon, or would prefer to make a one-time donation, click on the button below.

Thank you for your support in protecting civil liberties!

— Anne & Tim

PS: For what we’ve been up to since ICLMG was created in 2002, check out our Achievements and Gains page!

PPS: If you haven’t done so already, please follow us on our social media:

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