Ottawa – The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) welcomes the news of the release of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi by a United Arab Emirate court. After spending almost 22 months in prison suffering from solitary confinement, torture and numerous health issues, Salim Alaradi can be finally reunited with his family.
“The release of Salim Alaradi is an excellent news to his family and to all his friends and supporters who campaigned tirelessly to obtain it. Since the beginning of this horrible ordeal, ICLMG along with other civil liberties groups called upon the Canadian government to ensure that the rights of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi are protected, mainly his right to due process,” said Monia Mazigh, National coordinator of ICLMG.
Recently, 30 Canadian and international lawyers wrote to the Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan calling for the release of Salim Alaradi and the American nationals co-accused in his trial, Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat.
“The public and private pressures that have been exerted at different levels and from different governments on the Emirati government is evidence that pressure has clearly worked and that keeping quiet is not an option. The Canadian government should use all sorts of pressures in its power to obtain the release of Canadians detained abroad for political motives,” insisted Monia Mazigh.
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By Monia Mazigh – “Bombshell”, “denounce”, “yikes”. These are some of the words used by some journalists or commentators to describe the recent news that some “rogue” elements of the RCMP, without any judicial warrant, put two journalists under physical surveillance over a certain period of time to probe a leak done by a CSIS agent to two Canadian journalists working at La Presse.
In our analysis of this news story, three main points should be made clear here:
- Press freedom and freedom of expression are strong pillars of our democracy but reporting stories from anonymous sources is also an extremely “dangerous” business. It can bring truth to the public eyes as it can also damage the reputation of people if it turns out to be a lie or a half-truth fabricated by the intelligence officers. Journalists are supposed to do their work in accordance with some ethical standards. Unfortunately, it has not been the case. The desire of publishing a “scoop” or some exclusive material has trumped several times over the damage done to the life of the person subject of the leak. Juliet O’Neil did it in the past, as Maher Arar knows painfully well. Except for the courageous former Globe and Mail reporter, Jeff Sallot, no journalist has done his/her mea culpa. Ethics is an increasingly rare commodity in the journalistic world.
- There is an ongoing competition between law enforcement and information-gathering authorities that pre-dated even the creation of CSIS. This competition or “foot stepping game” can bring similar cases where the police forces are investigation what the intelligence services are doing. What should be emphasized and remembered here is that Bill C-51 granted additional powers to CSIS that would allow them to step into the law enforcement territory. CSIS recently acknowledged that they used these new powers and that they will continue using them. Does this mean we should expect more spying activities from one agency on the other and more collateral damages in between?
- The article reported that these are “rogue” elements within RCMP who conducted such warrantless surveillance. Once again, the simplistic explanation seems to prevail when we pinpoint to controversial activities conducted by law enforcement or intelligence forces. How about CRA information of Canadian citizens obtained by CSIS without warrants? Rogue elements did it and they stopped afterward… How about information about Canadian citizens shared with foreign agencies that led to the torture and arrest of the former? “Bad apples” among the forces did it but we will be more careful next time… This has been going on forever. I am almost tempted to say it is the rule rather than the exception!
The moral of the story isn’t solely about the importance of freedom of expression, but also about the importance and the urgent need to implement oversight and review mechanisms so that our national security agencies will be held accountable, and no leaks will be made to destroy people’s lives, and no journalists will be spied on and put under surveillance.
The ICLMG, alongside 13 groups, have co-signed the following open letter:
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
We, the undersigned, wish to express our profound concerns about the issuance of export permits for Canada’s multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, despite the flagrant incompatibilities of this contract with the human rights safeguards of our export controls.
To provide such a large supply of lethal weapons to a regime with such an appalling record of human rights abuses is immoral and unethical. The spirit and letter of both domestic export controls and international law support this view. The government has had every opportunity to uphold this position, but has chosen not to. We therefore ask the government to rescind the export permits, ensuring that this deal does not go ahead unless and until relevant human rights concerns have been resolved.
The effectiveness of Canada’s export control regime is contingent upon its ability to produce objective, reliable assessments related to export permit applications. We believe the regime’s integrity has been utterly compromised with the government’s decision to proceed with the largest arms sale in Canadian history to one of the world’s worst human rights violators.
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