News from ICLMG

In memory of Warren Allmand

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Warren Allmand at the conference “Arar+10: National Security and Human Rights, 10 Years Later”, organized by ICLMG in collaboration with Amnesty International, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and the Centre for International Policy Studies of the University of Ottawa, in October 2014. Photo credit: Sébastien Packer.

Ottawa – It is with great sadness that the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has received the news of the death of Warren Allmand on Wednesday December 7, 2016. A staunch defender of human rights and justice has passed away. Warren supported ICLMG from the very beginning, when he served as president of Rights & Democracy.

Warren was tireless in his work, both as a political representative and as an outspoken advocate for social justice. At the ICLMG, we will remember him for all that he put into defending civil liberties in the face of growing national security laws and the “war on terror.” Warren served as a spokesperson for the coalition, and put his years of experience as an MP, cabinet minister and Solicitor-General towards representing us before parliamentary committees and in guiding through both the Canadian legislative process and our international work at the UN.

Warren also played a significant role during the O’Connor Inquiry into the torture of Maher Arar, and the subsequent Iacobucci Inquiry into the torture of Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin, serving as the ICLMG’s co-counsel throughout the five years of the two inquiries.

“With our limited resources and a broad mandate, Warren helped us shape the ICLMG to what it is today,” said Dominique Peschard, ICLMG co-chair. “We will remember his friendship, his passion and his tireless support, and will continue our work for social justice as he would have wanted us to. Our thoughts and hearts are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time.”

We can’t mark another Human Rights Day with blood on our hands

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By Tim McSorley, National Coordinator

This statement was read in part at a press conference on Parliament Hill on December 9, 2016. Watch Sophie Harkat, wife of Mohamed Harkat and activist, and Tim McSorley deliver their speeches.

Today, December 10th, marks Human Rights Day. But it is also the anniversary of an ongoing stain on Canada’s human rights record.

Fourteen years ago, Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee to Canada, was arrested outside his home under a government security certificate and allegations of having ties to terrorism. Despite never being charged, and never being shown the evidence against him, Harkat has been subjected to solitary confinement, has experienced the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history, and lives under the constant threat of benig deported to Algeria, where he will certainly be imprisoned and likely tortured.

We like to believe that Canada stands above torture. And while the practice is banned in Canada, our international human rights obligations means that we must oppose torture everywhere – including never deporting someone to a situation where they could face torture.

Sadly, Canada has a history of complicity in sending Canadians to torture abroad: The US government whisked away Maher Arar to Jordan, and then Syria, where he was tortured. Canadian officials were complicit in his rendition and turned a blind-eye to his torture. In 2007, after the two-year O’Connor Inquiry, he received an official apology from the Canadian government, plus a $10.5 million settlement and $1 million in legal fees.

While no apology or settlement can undo the horrors of torture, other Canadians have not even received that much. A follow-up to the O’Connor Inquiry, the Iacobucci Inquiry, found that Canadian agents and officials played an indirect role in the arrest and torture of three other Canadians: Ahmad El Maati in Egypt, and Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria. This included problematic sharing of information with foreign spy agencies, providing insufficient consular support, and officials ignoring allegations of torture.

The inquiry ended in 2008, and yet no compensation and redress has been offered. This, despite a 2009 majority vote in the House – including Justin Trudeau and Liberal MPs – in favour of a Public Safety Committee report calling for an apology, redress, and full-adoption of the recommendations of the O’Connor Inquiry, including the creation of an integrated and independent review body for national security.

Sadly, we’ve seen the opposite of redress: the Conservative government at the time, and now the current Liberal government, have fought hard against a $100 million lawsuit brought by the three men as redress for the abuse they faced. In fact, the Liberals have doubled down, arguing in court that a 2014 law brought in by the Conservatives to protect intelligence sources should apply retroactively, in a bid to stop key testimony.

When the Prime Minister says Canada is back and promises to fight for equality and human rights, a fundamental first step should be apologizing, providing redress, and eliminating all complicity in torture.

There is a golden opportunity to make things right: the government is currently holding public, country-wide consultations on our national security framework. Prime Minister Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale could help set the tone for what is to come by stating right away that they will take some fundamental steps:

  • Ensuring no person is deported if there is a risk of torture, starting with the end of deportation proceedings against Mr. Harkat;
  • Committing to redress and apologies for all victims of torture in which Canada is complicit, starting with Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nureddin;
  • Withdrawing ministerial directives – still on the books – which allow Canada to accept intelligence that may have been garnered under torture, in violation of our international commitments;
  • Eliminating the security certificate system, which allows for detention without charges or access to the evidence being used to bring the certificate;
  • Repealing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 (Bill C-51), which brought in a tangled mess of laws that open the door wide for the types of violations that led to the torture of Mr. Arar, Mr. El Maati, Mr. Almalki and Mr. Nurredin.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on Human Rights Day 2017, we could finally say that Canada has cut all ties to torture?

You can send a message by responding to the Public Consultation on National Security and support the campaign for Mohammed Harkat here.

Thank you.

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. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.

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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Press release: ICLMG submits a brief to SECU committee on C-22: An inadequate, worrisome and insufficient bill

Ottawa – The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) has submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for its study of Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

The ICLMG welcomes the addition of an oversight committee. However, in its brief entitled “Bill C-22: An inadequate, worrisome and insufficient bill”, the coalition contends that such a committee does not go far enough. To ensure true accountability, and to complement and assist the oversight work of the Committee of Parliamentarians, the government must also create a robust, overarching and independent review and complaint body.

Moreover, the ICLMG advocates for a series of amendments to C-22, including:

  • The Committee of Parliamentarians should be accountable to and report to Parliament, not to the Prime Minister;
  • There should be a provision requiring the committee to immediately report all suspected wrongdoing, including any violations of Canadians’ rights, to the appropriate minister and the Attorney General;
  • The committee should have full access to all necessary information, with the reasonable exception of cabinet confidences;
  • Section 8(b) which would allow any minister to block an investigation into a particular issue or activity of their department by asserting risk to national security should be removed.

“Bill C-22 falls short in many respects and cannot be a substitute for an independent expert review and complaint body,” says Tim McSorley, the coalition’s National Coordinator. “We are pleased to see that the amendments proposed by the NDP share many of our concerns, and we hope the government will make the necessary changes to ensure this bill can truly fulfill its function of oversight and accountability,” he adds.

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Read our brief: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/421/SECU/Brief/BR8611164/br-external/InternationalCivilLibertiesMonitoringGroup-e.pdf

Version française: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Committee/421/SECU/Brief/BR8611164/br-external/InternationalCivilLibertiesMonitoringGroup-9485567-f.pdf

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. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.

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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