The following is a partial list of ICLMG’s main achievements since its inception in May 2002.
Permanent forum for information sharing, joint analysis and collective action
ICLMG provides to its members a permanent forum for information sharing, joint analysis, collective action and the development of common policy positions and common discourse on issues related to civil liberties and human rights, in the context of national security and ‘anti-terrorism’.
Presence on Parliament Hill
ICLMG carries out ongoing monitoring of the parliamentary process related to national security and anti-terrorism legislation, and regularly meets with MPs regarding several issues of concern. Over the years, ICLMG has become a recognized and respected voice in parliamentary committee hearings and is often invited to take part in the briefing of parliamentarians on issues related to national security and anti-terrorism. See our many briefs and reports.
Presence in the mainstream media
ICLMG has established itself as a legitimate and credible voice in the mainstream media, notably with Radio-Canada, Le Devoir, The Canadian Press, the Montreal Gazette, the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, among others. ICLMG has also participated in numerous press conferences on Parliament Hill. Finally, ICLMG has published many op-ed pieces in mainstream online media.
The bimonthly ICLMG News Digest
ICLMG publishes an online bimonthly compilation of news articles, events and calls to action regarding national security, anti-terrorism, civil liberties and other issues related to the mandate and concerns of ICLMG and its member organizations, including drone strikes, criminalization of dissent, the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, torture, surveillance, security certificates, the oversight of police and intelligence agencies, No-Fly lists, etc.
The News Digest is distributed to more than 3600 contacts and read by many renowned jurists, grassroots activists, academics and policymakers across Canada. Subscribe to our news digest, or general emailing list.
Partnerships and collaborations
Since its inception, ICLMG has not only established itself as a credible and expert voice in policy circles and in the mainstream media, but has also developed a wide network of collaborations with other civil liberties organizations, academics, grassroots organizations, legal teams, the Office of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and individuals targeted by anti-terrorism measures. Internationally, ICLMG participates in meetings organized in relation to UN activities, and cooperates with organizations such the ACLU in the U.S. and Statewatch in the U.K, as well as national and regional networks in the Global South.
Sought-after expertise for presentations, books, papers, reports and educational videos
Many individuals and organizations working in the fields of anti-terrorism, national security and civil liberties have reached out to ICLMG for speeches, presentations and to sit on panels, and for feedback and revision of their soon-to-be published work or reports. We’ve also written a chapter in a book called “Big Data Surveillance and Security Intelligence: The Canadian Case”, appeared in many online webinars and produced many educational videos on a variety of important topics.
2) Specific achievements
June 2023: JUST Committee calls for extradition law reform
We appeared at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for its study on extradition reform and contributed to the call from the committee for major reforms to the Extradition Act.
June 2023: C-41: Exemption for humanitarian activities
Humanitarian aid and international assistance generally is being hindered by Canada’s anti-terrorism laws, particularly in Afghanistan – a risk ICLMG has warned about for a very long time. In 2023, the government tabled Bill C-41 to ostensibly address the issue through amendments to the Criminal Code. Through pressure with the Aid For Afghanistan campaign and others, we were able to secure an exemption for humanitarian activities. It’s important to note however that there’s more to be done for non-humanitarian international assistance and we will be keeping an eye on the future regulations and implementation of the bill.
April 2023: Canada repatriates several citizens from Northeastern Syria
Alongside several other groups, individuals and families, we’ve been applying pressure for years now for Canada to respect its Charter and international obligations and repatriate its citizens (as well as the non-Canadian mothers of Canadian children). In April 2023, Canada repatriated 14 Canadians – 4 women and 10 children – in addition to a few others that had been repatriated in the recent years. That was great news, however, the fight is not over: there are still several Canadian men, women and children and non-Canadian mothers of Canadian children that must be repatriated without delay. Our work won’t be done until they are all safely back home.
March 2023: The NSIRA decides to review the CRA’s prejudiced audits
After the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson published his report stating he didn’t have the clearance to access all the information necessary to his investigation, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) decided to review the national security related activities of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD), a key recommendation from our 2021 CRA Prejudiced Audits report.
February 2023: UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate Canada assessment
2023 marked the second assessment of Canada’s implementation of UN counterterrorism resolutions by the Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). In response, we organized the first ever civil society consultation with CTED during their country visit.
October 2022: Parliamentary report reflects several ICLMG recommendations regarding facial recognition and AI
A new report, Facial Recognition Technology and the Growing Power of Artificial Intelligence, was issued by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics following its months-long study of the issue. The ICLMG testified before the committee and submitted a written brief. Several of the ICLMG’s recommendations were reflected in the committee’s report.
June 2022: Amendments to Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Preclearance Act
The ICLMG, working alongside allied groups, organized opposition to changes proposed in Bill S-7 that would have allowed border agents to search cell phones, laptops and other personal electronic devices based on a completely new, vague and overly broad legal standard of “reasonable general concern.” Our efforts led the Senate adopting several significant amendments in line with our positions which, if they receive royal assent, would strengthen privacy protections at the border. Our work on S-7 included convening partner groups to analyse the bill and devise a strategy to counter the proposed changes, conducting research and drafting an open letter to Senators about the problems with the bill. We met with Senator Ratna Omidvar, and reached out to other senators explaining our concerns. We also appeared at the Senate committee studying the bill and sent a brief.
February 2022: We got the government to back down on its initial “online harms” proposal
The ICLMG campaigned to have the government reconsider its highly problematic proposal to address online harms, which would have seen new, problematic definitions of “terrorist content” enforced by unaccountable social media platforms, increased online surveillance significantly and required mandatory reporting of social media content to law enforcement, even if not clearly illegal. Our work contributed to the government backing down on some of its most troubling proposals and starting a new process. We helped establish an organizing network of groups, met with MPs, submitted a brief to the government’s “online harms” legislation consultation, and signed two civil society open letters denouncing the consultation process as well as the proposed legislation in general.
June 2021: Our report on the CRA’s Prejudiced Audits led the government to launch a review
We published a report entitled The CRA’s Prejudiced Audits: Counter-Terrorism and the Targeting of Muslim Charities in Canada. The report was covered in more than 75 news articles and op-eds. To accompany the report, we created a letter-writing campaign to Stop CRA’s Prejudiced Audits. More than 2400 emails have been sent so far. We also organized a public event to present the findings and recommendations and recorded it for further distribution. We sent an open letter signed by 130 groups to Prime Minister Trudeau supporting our report. As a result, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson to review CRA’s charity audits for religious bias. ICLMG analyzed and reacted to the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s update and plan for review, and continues to monitor for new developments.
December 2020: We became published authors!
We contributed a chapter entitled: Confronting Big Data: Popular Resistance to Government Surveillance in Canada since 2001 to the book “Big Data Surveillance and Security Intelligence: The Canadian Case”. The book is part of a long-term project called Big Data Surveillance spearheaded by the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University. We also presented on the topic of our chapter during an online event for the launch of the book, during a talk in 2017 at the University of Ottawa, and we supported the planning of the final 2022 conference in Ottawa and presented on the opening panel.
November 2020: A redress system for #NoFlyListKids was finally implemented
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.
July 2020: Yasser Ahmed Albaz finally returns to Canada
Yasser is a Canadian citizen who, while at the Cairo airport on his way back to Canada in February 2019, was arrested and thrown in the notorious Torah prison in Egypt. He was detained for 16 months without charge and in awful conditions. Alongside his daughter, his wife, numerous individual supporters, NCCM and Amnesty International, ICLMG campaigned for his safe return home. We issued a statement calling on Canada to ensure his return which was read at a press conference. Our National Coordinator, Tim McSorley, spoke at a press conference before the Foreign Affairs Minister’s visit to Egypt, and at a rally in front of the Prime Minister’s office right before he was released and returned to Canada on July 2, 2020.
Spring and summer 2020: Secured a commitment for privacy protections in COVID-19 surveillance
We secured a commitment from the government that the COVID app would not collect personal information, and that national security agencies would not be involved in COVID surveillance or have access to COVID information. We wrote an analysis of the privacy issues around the COVID Alert app when it was released and met with the Director of the Privacy Management Division of Health Canada, to discuss our concerns. We co-wrote a statement listing seven principles to ensure the app respects privacy, and we met with the Justice Minister to discuss them. We also created a video and launched a letter-writing campaign to protect our rights if digital surveillance is used to fight COVID. Our community sent 1600 letters, which led to several of our key principles being implemented. Furthermore, thanks to our group open letter, the federal government delayed the release of the national contact tracing app until the Privacy Commissioner had examined and approved it. Finally, we participated in an online panel on pandemics and civil liberties, and we’ve added our voice to 300 organizations and individuals to call on all levels of government to strengthen human rights oversight amid the pandemic.
Since Spring 2020: Advocating against Facial recognition technology surveillance
We have influenced the discussion and brought important elements to the forefront, including the need to examine the use of Facial recognition technology (FRT) beyond law enforcement, including by CBSA and CSIS. We wrote an open letter to the government, raised the issue in meetings with Public Safety Canada, were invited as a expert organization to provide input to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s consultation, and appeared in front of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) as well as the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI).
June 2019: A new overarching review agency
As part of the new National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), the government has created the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), an overarching review body that will examine all Canadian national security activities, regardless of agencies or departments. The ICLMG has been advocating for such a body since it was recommended by Justice O’Connor in its report on the Commission into the Maher Arar case in 2006. While there are some issues with the NSIRA – namely that it will replicate many of the shortcomings of previous review bodies like CSIS’ watchdog, SIRC – it is a step in the right direction.
December 2018: Changes to a Public Safety report’s problematic and inaccurate language
We joined our members, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the World Sikh Organization, in calling for and obtaining changes to the 2018 Terrorism threat assessment report, which targeted and stigmatized Muslim and Sikh communities as being tied to terror threats.
December 2018: The Committee Against Torture’s Report on Canada
Canada’s report on its implementation of the Convention Against Torture was examined by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) at the end of November 2018. We sent a general submission asserting that several Canadian policies, practices and cases contravene multiple provisions of the Convention Against Torture, and a second report co-authored with Lawyers’ Right Watch Canada (LRWC) specifically on Omar Khadr. The UN Committee Against Torture’s report on Canada, published in December, reflected many of our concerns.
February 2018: Promise of a 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. Read our press release.
January 2018: Hassan Diab is back in Canada!
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.
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.
Fall 2017: National Security & Human Rights Speaker Series
In order to shed some light on the very obscure world of national security policies, we organized a National Security & Human Rights Speaker Series co-sponsored by our member CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The series covered Bill C-59, the new National Security Act; Islamophobia, both a cause and consequence of national security; criminalization of dissent in Canada and abroad; and Canada’s complicity in torture. We’ve had the great pleasure of hearing amazing panelists such as Micheal Vonn, Paul Champ, Tamir Israel, Monia Mazigh, Yavar Hameed, Freddy Stoneypoint, Jennifer Moore, Sophie Harkat and Khalid Elgazzar.
Hundreds of people attended the talks or watched them online, and we received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Watch the videos here!
Summer 2017: Questions to NDP leadership candidates on national security
We sent out a questionnaire on national security, anti-terrorism and human rights to all the NDP leadership candidates. Check out their answers, comments and grades.
March & July 2017: Settlements for torture survivors Almalki, Elmaati, Nurredin & Khadr
Abdullad Almalki, Ahmad Elmaati, and Muayyed Nurredin, finally received, in March 2017, an apology and compensation from the Canadian government for having suffered rendition, detention and torture in Syria and Egypt because of erroneous information sent by Canadian officials.
In July 2017, Omar Khadr received a compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for violating his rights and international law by, not only not coming to his assistance while he was imprisoned as a child solider in Guantanamo, but for interrogating him and sharing the information with the Americans who tortured him.
The ICLMG campaigned for years alongside many others with letters, press conferences, videos, events, and briefs to see justice brought to these men.
June 2017: Citizenship equality
The ICLMG was among the first to denounce the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (formerly Bill C-24) as unconstitutional and anti-Canadian for discriminating against dual nationals by allowing the removal of citizenship for national security reasons. While C-24 became law, on June 19, new legislation (Bill C-6) was passed, effectively killing that two-tier citizenship regime.
May 2017: Results of the national security consultation
The results of the government’s consultation on national security were unequivocal: on all questions, Canadians put the protection of our rights first. We crafted a very thorough response to the consultation, which many organizations and individuals used in their own responses. Both the House Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security’s own national security consultations, and the independent report on the government’s official national security consultation included either direct mentions of our brief or showed that the public is in agreement with our positions.
2016: Participation in the National Security Consultation
- Lawyer and Arar Commission prosecutor Paul Cavalluzzo represented the ICLMG in front of the House Committee on Public Safety and National Defence (SECU) for their study on Canada’s National Security Framework. Here is his presentation. We also submitted an extended brief to the Committee and attended its open-mic session in Montreal – there was a consensus for the repeal of C-51 in the audience.
- The ICLMG, alongside 25 other civil society organizatons, met with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould, to brief them on our recommendations to reform national security in Canada.
- The ICLMG attended a discussion with representatives of Public Safety Canada hosted at the University of Ottawa by the International Commission of Jurists.
- The ICLMG put together and made public its answers to the National Security online consultation in order to make it more accessible and focused on human rights. Don’t hesitate to read it and use it for educational purposes as it is a very detailed look at the issues and solutions around national security in Canada today.
- The ICLMG submitted, to the SECU Committee, a brief on Bill C-22, which would create a Committee of Parliamentarians on Intelligence and National Security.
2016: The ICLMG campaigned for the liberation of Dr Homa Hoodfar, emprisoned in Iran
Dr Homa Hoodfar, a Concordia University anthropology and sociology professor, was detained since June 6, 2016 in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where political prisoners are normally held. She travelled to Iran in February to see family and do academic research but was arrested in March, just as she was set to return to Montreal. She was released on bail and then rearrested in early June. It is not known what Hoodfar was suspected of having done, but her family has said they believe it was related to her research into feminism in Iran. She was finally released and returned to Montreal on September 19, 2016.
2014-2016: The ICLMG was a leading contributor in the campaign for the liberation of Khaled Al-Qazzaz, imprisoned without charge in Egypt
The ICLMG has participated in a press conference on Parliament Hill and has co-signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, among other actions, to urge him to intervene for the immediate release of Canadian resident Khaled Al-Qazzaz, who had been imprisoned in Egypt, in solitary confinement, for more than a year without charge. Khaled was finally released in January 2015. However, Khaled and his family were trapped in Egypt, prevented from leaving without cause by the Egyptian authorities, for months. They were finally able to come back to Canada on August 14, 2016.
2014-2016: The ICLMG was a leading contributor in the campaign for the release of Canadian Salim Alaradi, imprisoned without charge in the UAE
The ICLMG has written a press release, co-signed an open letter, and created an urgent action to urge the Prime minister to put pressure on the United Arab Emirates to release without delay Canadian citizen and father of 5, Salim Alaradi, detained without accusation, and tortured, since August 2014. Salim Alaradi has been released on June 2, 2016 and is now back in Canada.
2014-2015: The ICLMG campaigned for the release of Canadian Journalist Mohamed Fahmy
Mohamed Fahmy was detained and then sentenced by the Egyptian court to three years in prison for his work as a journalist in a trial that was described as “farcical” and a politicized attack on freedom of expression. After intense international pressure on the Canadian and Egyptian governments, Fahmy was pardoned by the Egyptian president on September 23rd, 2015, and was subsequently released. Mohamed Fahmy is now back in Canada.
2015: Major contribution to the public awareness of and the struggle against Bill C-51, the Anti-terror Act of 2015
The ICLMG has been among the firsts to organize, educate, and campaign against the dangerous and flawed Bill C-51 after it was tabled in Parliament in January 2015. Part of a group of several organizations, we strategized, wrote press releases and open letters to the Prime Minister, denounced the limited Parliamentary Committee hearings and debates on the legislation, and contributed to the education of our 43 member organizations on the issues with the bill. For more information on the Anti-terror Act of 2015, click here.
2014: The ICLMG signs two articles in La Ligue des droits et libertés’s magazine on mass surveillance
In a context where the revelations of Edward Snowden sparked a healthy public debate on the establishment of a system for monitoring populations, this edition of the LDL magazine aimed to shed further light on the evolution of issues of surveillance and of privacy and personal information protection, their implications for democracy and human rights as well as the prospects in terms of resistance and alternatives. ICLMG’s National Coordinator, Roch Tassé, and ICLMG’s Communications and Research Coordinator, Anne Dagenais Guertin, have each written an article in this issue. Read here.
2014: The ICLMG co-organizes the ARAR+10 conference: National Security and Human Rights A Decade Later
Presented by the ICLMG, Amnesty International Canada, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa, this unique and successful event marked the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Arar Commission of Inquiry on the actions of Canadian Officials which led to the detention and torture in Syria of Canadian citizen Maher Arar presided by Justice O’Connor. The panelists discussed the personal dimension of national security-related human rights violations, challenges for journalists and the legal profession and ongoing concerns related to oversight of national security activities. And three justices discussed the state of national security and human rights and the implementation – or lack thereof – of the recommendations they made specifically regarding the oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies to prevent human rights abuses from happening again. Watch all the panels here. Read the report here. Watch the video we made to call for stronger national security oversight and review mechanisms.
2014: The ICLMG co-signs an open letter urging PM Harper to strenghten global efforts to end torture
On the 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 Torture, Canada 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
2013: Roundtable events on “criminalization of dissent” with Guatemalan delegation
ICLMG, MiningWatch Canada and Peace Brigade International organized two public roundtables in Ottawa, in May 2013, to bring public attention to the growing phenomenon of criminalization of dissent. The first roundtable presentation followed a play entitled The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich. The play, a half-hour staged reading including songs, stories and images is based on the murder of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan community leader killed by security forces contracted by the subsidiary of a Canadian mining company in eastern Guatemala. The second roundtable took place under the auspices of the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. That event, titled “Criminalization of dissent: Impacts on human rights and environmental defenders”, featured Lolita Chavez, the Coordinator of the K’iche People’s Counsel in Guatemala. She spoke of the struggle of her people, the creativity you need to fight back peacefully and the constant threats on her life and that of other human rights and land defenders.
2013: “Listed entities”, the Anti-Terrorism Act and Implications for Canadian NGOs (NGO forum)
ICLMG, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and Peacebuild co-sponsored a one-day discussion forum for Canadian NGOs in November 2013 to enhance understanding of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), particularly the process of listing terrorist entities, and the implications and possible risks associated with intentional or unintentional interactions with those entities. The recent listing of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network were used as current case studies.
The forum – which included the participation of humanitarian, development, civil liberties and peacebuilding NGOs, as well as lawyers and retired Canadian government officials – explored the implications of terrorist ‘listing’ on peace processes, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and development programs. It addressed the hesitancy and “chill factor” that NGOs may experience due to the ATA when preparing programming activities in certain areas of the world. The forum also looked at the potential implications and risks that the listings pose for NGOs, particularly considering the possible loss of charitable status. The findings and initial conclusions of the forum fed into the development of a follow-up action plan on this issue.
2013: The Human Cost of Killer Drones featuring Farea Al-Muslimi (Public event)
The Human Cost of Killer Drones public event aimed to raise awareness and generate critical debate about the illegal drone strikes perpetrated by the United States against targeted individuals in Yemen and Pakistan, and to denounce their terrorizing effect on populations and counter-productive impact in the war against terror. Speakers included Farea Al-Muslimi, a Yemeni activist who delivered a powerful testimony in a congressional hearing on American drone strikes in Yemen and basically made Obama admit to the use of drones; Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, and John Packer, Constitutions and Process Design Expert in the Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations. The event, held at the University of Ottawa in November 2013, was a success with over 100 people attending in person and many more watching the panel via livestream. Watch the video here.
2010: The NDP and Bill C-42 on the US Secure flight list
The position of ICLMG, informed by the findings of the research and clearinghouse project on the surveillance of travelers, was reflected in the discourse of several members of Parliament in their opposition to Bill C-42, which authorizes the sharing of passenger information with the US Department of Homeland Security and the implementation of the US Secure Flight program (or US no- fly list) by Canadian airlines. US Secure Flight applies to all flights to and from Canada (in addition to Canada’s no fly list), even if said flights do not go through the United States. ICLMG was quoted a half dozen times during the debate in the House. Unfortunately, the bill was adopted in December 2010.
2009: Majority support for Motion in the House of Commons re the O’Connor recommendations
ICLMG and Amnesty played a lead role in lobbying MP’s to support the implementation of the O’Connor recommendations (including the model for oversight). In December 2009, all MPs in the House, with the exception of Conservatives, voted in favour of a Motion in support of these recommendations. It also called for the government to apologize to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. Unfortunately, to this day, the Harper government has refused to respect that resolution.
2008-2010: Research and Clearinghouse Project on Border Controls and No Fly Lists
ICLMG carried out an action-research and clearinghouse project on the surveillance of travelers. The project investigated the border control practices used to screen travelers at Canadian airports and Canada/U.S. border-crossings, and their impact on the privacy, civil liberties and human rights of Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, permanent residents, and asylum seekers. The project also established a web-based clearinghouse to comprehensively document the number and nature of incidents in which travelers were being intercepted, interrogated, detained and/or denied admission (and/or denied the right to board a plane) in Canada or the U.S.
The final report, release in January 2010, raised serious concerns about the lack of accountability of the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) and the lack of due process associated with no-fly lists. It generated significant media coverage and public interest.
2007 and 2013: The ‘Security Certificate’ Supreme Court cases
ICLMG was an intervener in the Charkaoui case, jointly with the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), in the 2007 landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of procedures for determining the reasonableness of a security certificate and for reviewing detention under a certificate. The Court held that the security certificate process, which prohibited the named individual from examining evidence used to issue the certificate, violated the right to liberty and habeas corpus under section 7, 9 and 10 of the Canadian Charter. As remedy, the Court declared the security certificate regime to be of no force and effect, striking down articles 33 and 77 to 85 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, but suspended the ruling for one year.
A year later the government amended the regime with the appointment of ‘special advocates’. As predicted, the ‘new’ regime was contested once again before the Supreme Court in 2013, spearheaded this time by Mohamed Harkat’s case. For a second time, ICLMG intervened in the case jointly with CCR. Unfortunately, the new system of security certificates was found constitutional by the Supreme Court, although it was recognized that the rights of Mohamed Harkat were violated.
2007: Blocking the re-introduction of the sunset clause in the Anti-terrorism Act
ICLMG’s letter writing campaign to the members of the divided Liberal caucus had a significant impact on the vote to block the re-introduction of the ‘preventative detention’ and the ‘investigative hearing’ provisions to the Anti-terrorism Act, which had been the subject of a 5-year sunset clause. The motion to re-introduce the clauses was defeated. Unfortunately the two measures were re-instated by the Harper government in 2011.
2007: Creation of the Iacobucci Commission of Inquiry
Another recommendation put forward to the O’Connor Commission by ICLMG and the “group of interveners”, which was incorporated in Justice O’Connor’s final recommendations, was to ask for another public inquiry in the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, three other Canadians jailed and tortured in Syria and Egypt.
The government established the Iacobucci Inquiry in 2007. It was mandated to review the nature of Canadian intelligence sharing with countries including the U.S., Syria and Egypt. The commission also sought to determine if Canadian officials were complicit in the alleged abuse.
ICLMG sought and obtained intervener status at the Commission.
Justice Iacobucci concluded that while the Canadian government was not directly responsible for the torture of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, their mistreatment arose indirectly from the actions of Canadian officials, likely as a result of erroneous information sharing.
2006-2009: Justice for Benamar Benatta
Benamar Benatta is a refugee from Algeria who, without benefit of legal counsel or hearing, was illegally handed over to the U.S. by Canadian officials on September 12, 2001, with the allegation that as “a Muslim with aeronautical experience”, he may be connected to the events of 9/11. Benamar spent almost five years in detention in the U.S. under conditions the United Nations concluded were tantamount to torture, even though the FBI cleared him of any allegations in November, 2001. He returned in Canada in 2006 and in April 2007 he sought an explanation from the Government of Canada about why he was transferred to the United States on September 12, 2001. ICLMG participated in the strategy committee of his campaign to demand explanations and obtain justice (with his lawyer Nicole Chloravicius). We organized a public meeting in Ottawa with Nicole and Benamar as speakers. We also organized a series of meetings with deputies on the Hill, and accompanied Nicole and Benamar during these meetings. After several years, Benamar won his case and was compensated.
2006: Book “Illusions of Security” by Maureen Webb
The research and report produced for the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS) formed the basis for the writing of the book Illusions of Security – Democracy in the Post 9/11 World, authored by Maureen Webb. At the time, this book was a provocative read about what governments should and should not be doing to protect us from further terrorist attacks. It took a crucial look at a little-examined aspect of the U.S.-led “war on terror”, the move toward the use of mass, globalized surveillance and a “preemptive” model of security, and its effects on democratic values and human rights around the world.
2006: Civil Society Forum during the International Conference of Privacy Commissioners
ICLMG received a grant from the Office of Privacy Commissioner to organize an international Civil Society Forum that took place in parallel to the International Conference of Privacy Commissioners hosted in Montreal by OPC in 2006. The forum built on the partnerships and networks established during the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS). The Civil Society Forum’s recommendations, as well as the Declaration of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS), were adopted by the world’s Privacy Commissioners during a subsequent international conference that took place the following year in Spain.
2006: Colloquium – The Human Rights of Anti-terrorism
ICLMG co-sponsored, with Amnesty International and Ottawa U. Law Faculty professor Craig Forcese, a colloquium that brought together activist lawyers and legal thinkers from across Canada and around the world to grapple with the interrelationship, synergies and tensions between anti-terrorism and human rights. At the end of the event, experts came together to assemble and finalize The Ottawa Principles on Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights, designed to articulate precise standards in almost a dozen different areas. The colloquium took place at the University of Ottawa in June 2006.
2006: Minority report for the repeal of the Anti-terrorism Act
During the 2006 parliamentary review of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the ICLMG played a determining role in the final position adopted by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, and was instrumental in the drafting of a minority report tabled in Parliament jointly by both opposition parties. The minority report called for the repeal of the Anti-terrorism Act.
2005: The creation of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS)
ICLMG coordinated efforts with its international partners in the planning and launching of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance. The campaign included a major report on global surveillance and a Declaration that called on governments to put an end to massive surveillance and global registration of entire populations. The campaign was the first of its kind to focus in such depth on global surveillance and the Declaration was endorsed by over 300 civil society organizations worldwide.
International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS): The Emergence of a Global Infrastructure for Mass Registration and Surveillance (Executive Summary), April 20, 2005
2004: Arar/O’Connor Commission of Inquiry
Following the return of Maher Arar to Canada, in the fall of 2003, ICLMG played a key role in the mobilization of support in favour of a public inquiry into the events leading to Mr. Arar’s rendition to torture on suspicions of links with terrorism.
In January 2004 the Liberal government announced the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry presided by Justice Dennis O’Connor. The Inquiry was convened to look into the actions of Canadian officials in connection with the Arar case and also to make policy recommendations to the government with respect to oversight and review of the RCMP’s national security activities.
ICLMG was granted intervener status at the Commission and played a pro-active role in monitoring the entire public process as well as coordinating strategic inputs with the “group of civil society interveners”.
In the end the Commission exonerated Maher Arar and found that Canadian officials had given the United States false information about him, for which the Canadian government apologized.
Justice O’Connor also recommended the creation of an integrated oversight and complaint mechanisms for all Canadians intelligence and security agencies, including CSEC, CSIS, the RCMP, and CBSA. The model incorporated many of the elements advocated by ICLMG in it’s final brief to the Commission.
2004: International Public Forum on Anti-Terrorism and the Security Agenda
ICLMG was the convener of an international public forum entitled Anti-Terrorism and the Security Agenda: Impacts on Rights, Freedoms and Democracy. This international gathering of civil society organizations provided an opportunity for:
- the establishment of new partnerships and the beginning of concerted international collaboration among Canadian, European, American and global south organizations, including Statewatch (EU), ACLU (US), Centre for Constitutional Rights, Forum on the Global South, among others;
- the development of a broader understanding and a common analysis of the issues related to security and anti-terrorism; and
- exploring the appropriateness of, and begin the process of developing joint strategies and actions at an international level.
The forum was a success and resulted in the creation of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS). It also set the stage for over a decade of collaboration with international partners on issues of common interest.
2002-2003: Case of Maher Arar
ICLMG was one of the early organizations, along with Amnesty International and CAIR-CAN Canada, to advocate for the repatriation of Canadian citizen Maher Arar from Syria, where he was detained and tortured by Syrian intelligence for a year at the request of the US, on the basis of erroneous information shared by Canadian officials.
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.
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