News from ICLMG

Press release: Harper’s new anti-terrorism bill is overreaching and could impact negatively on the rights and freedoms of Canadians

MegaphoneJanuary 30, 2015 – The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group is deeply concerned by several provisions of the latest Harper’s government’s anti-terrorism bill, tabled Friday in the House of Commons, including: the lowering of the threshold for making preventative arrests and obtaining a peace bond and the extension of the period of time recognizance conditions can apply; the expansion of criteria to prevent an individual from boarding a plane, without the need for a judicial warrant; and provisions that will criminalize “advocating” or “promoting” the commission of terrorism offenses.

The ICLMG is especially concerned that these additional powers awarded to security agencies are not paired with an increase in the existing oversight regime that is already deficient. “Existing measures have already led to serious violations of the rights of innocent people and the government now wants to introduce new measures notwithstanding the fact that it has not yet implemented the necessary oversight and review mechanisms to protect Canadians”, says Roch Tassé, ICLMG National Coordinator. “The measures introduced in Bill C-51 greatly increase the potential for further national security abuses. Before introducing such drastic new measures, the government needs to demonstrate that existing legislation is insufficient and must implement the type of robust and comprehensive oversight and review mechanisms proposed by Justice O’Connor who presided over the Arar Inquiry, as well as create opportunities for greater parliamentary oversight”, adds Tassé.

The ICLMG is also worried about the introduction of a new criminal offense for ‘advocating’ or ‘promoting’ the commission of a terrorism act. “These are terms that can be interpreted very subjectively and have the potential to impact on freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press and academic freedom”, says Dominique Peschard, ICLMG co-chair. “For instance, it could shut down a critical debate on the ‘root causes’ of terrorism. It is a very dangerous fine line to walk if one values freedom of opinion and freedom of expression in a free and democratic society.”

Given the serious implications and the potential overreach of the proposed legislation, ICLMG urges the government to allow for serious debate and thorough consideration of the bill and calls for extended and wide-ranging consultations in public parliamentary committee hearings.

Link to the press release

ICLMG co-signs an open letter urging PM Harper to strenghten global efforts to end torture

pmsh_sept_2014_456103738Today on International Human Rights Day civil society groups have joined together in an open letter calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put Canada back in the global effort to end torture and ill-treatment around the world.

On the day that marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against TortureCanada should take the final step and ratify the instrument that establishes national and international systems for inspecting detention centres. In 2006 and 2009 Canada told the UN Human Rights Council that it would consider ratifying this Optional Protocol that was adopted by the UN in 2002.

The organizations that signed the open letter are united in calling for Canada to take this step without delay.

Read more

Videos – Watch the Arar +10: National Security and Human Rights, 10 Years Later conference

Thank you to everyone who were able to attend the conference, it was a huge success and attracted a lot of attention in the media!

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the whole conference panel per panel below. And listen to the audio podcasts here.

This conference was presented in collaboration with Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and the Centre for International Policy Studies of the University of Ottawa.

Welcome, Opening remarks and Retrospective of the past decade

Allan Rock, President, University of Ottawa

Roch Tassé, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada

Panel 1 – The people and lives behind the issues

Abdullah Almalki, Torture Survivor

Paul Champ, Counsel to Abousfian Abdelrazik and Benamar Benatta

Dennis Edney, Counsel to Omar Khadr

Sophie Harkat, Spouse of Subject of Immigration Security Certificate

Panel 2 – Perspectives from the media

Jeff Sallot, Journalist and Author

Jacques Bourbeau, Ottawa Bureau Chief for Global News

Brigitte Bureau,  Investigative reporter with French CBC

Keynot Panel – Judicial Reflections on National Security and Human Rights

The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Commissioner of the Internal Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin

The Honourable John Major, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182

The Honourable Dennis O’Connor, former Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar

Panel 3 – Lawyering for human rights in a national security context

Paul Cavalluzzo, Barrister & Solicitor and Special Advocate

Marlys Edwardh, Barrister & Solicitor

Barbara Jackman, Barrister & Solicitor

Phil Tunley, Barrister & Solicitor

Panel 4 – A view from community level

Sheema Khan, Author, Columnist and Community Activist

Ihsaan Gardee, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Khalid Elgazzar, Barrister and Solicitor

Panel 5 – Oversight and Review

Gar Pardy, Retired Canadian Diplomat

Craig Forcese, Associate Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

Wrap-up & Closing words

Jeff Sallott

Monia Mazigh, Author and Human Rights Activist

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