News from ICLMG

Will Parliament throw Muslim and racialized groups under the bus in the rush for preclearance?

Rights cannot be railroaded in pursuit of political expediency and economic benefit, say leading civil society groups

(Ottawa – December 6, 2017)  Changes to Canada’s Preclearance Act (Bill C-23) are being rushed through and must be amended in order to avoid serious impacts on the rights of Muslim and racialized groups, and of Canadians more generally, according to labour, legal, Muslim and civil liberties groups.

“Bill C-23, as it stands, will significantly weaken Canadians’ rights when travelling to the United States. Canadian parliamentarians have acknowledged this, and yet they say their hands are tied because of an agreement with the United States. The result is that parliamentarians are knowingly throwing Muslim and racialized groups under the bus,” said Pantea Jafari of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association.

The proposed changes to the Preclearance Act are meant to implement a 2015 agreement reached between the then-Conservative government of Stephen Harper and the Obama administration in the US, and pave the way for travelers from Canada to pass through US customs before boarding flights, and expand preclearance to land and water crossings.

“We do not oppose greater access to preclearance,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “What we oppose is the trade-off being proposed in Bill C-23: that Canadians must give up essential protections when dealing with US officers in Canada, in exchange for the expediency and economic benefit of faster travel to the United States.”

Together, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada are calling on members of the Senate Standing Committee on National Defence to make the necessary changes to Bill C-23 to ensure fundamental rights are protected when traveling to the United States.

On Monday, the same Senate committee heard hours of testimony from the Canadian Bar Association, the CMLA, the ICLMG, the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, all raising their concerns with the dangers that Bill C-23 poses if adopted unamended.

These include:

  • The granting of sweeping civil or criminal immunity to US preclearance officers.
  • Losing the right to withdraw from preclearance without further questioning.
  • US officers being allowed to proceed with a strip search even if a Canadian officer declines to carry it out.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will have undue influence over the security clearance of Canadian workers.

“We continue to hear from Canadian Muslims and racialized people who experience greater screening, invasive searches and abusive questioning as they pass through preclearance areas in Canadian airports, as well as at land crossings,” said Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). “While we do not question the good faith of most preclearance officers, we underscore the need to ensure the protection of Canadians’ rights when traveling to the United States, including the right to seek legal remedy.”

Bill C-23 also threatens the right of privacy of Canadian maritime workers and grants US officials significant influence over whether these workers receive security clearances essential to performing their functions.

“For the first time, Canadian maritime workers would face security evaluations by the US Department of Homeland Security,” said Rob Ashton, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada. “Allowing US officials to send secret ‘derogatory statements’ about Canadian workers to the Canadian government that could cost them their jobs is simply unacceptable.”

Bill C-23 also raises fundamental questions of Canadian sovereignty.

Many of the changes proposed in the bill are based on the “Agreement On Land, Rail, Marine, And Air Transport Preclearance” signed by the Canadian and US governments in Spring 2015. This agreement has been criticized for having been negotiated without public input or consultation. During the debate and study of Bill C-23, members of Parliament and of the Senate have expressed that their “hands are tied” in amending the proposed legislation, since it could mean re-negotiating the 2015 agreement.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that we are being asked to trade away our rights when traveling, based on an agreement that has seen no public or parliamentary scrutiny,” said Jafari. “We reject the proposal by the Canadian Ambassador to the United States that our only choice is either weakened protections at US preclearance in Canada, or no protections at customs in the United States. Canadians expect their government, and its officials to do better.”

“The role of parliament is to legislate, and to do so in the best interest of Canadians. If that means needing to renegotiate the preclearance agreement, lawmakers must be ready to take that step,” added McSorley.

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Contact:
Tim McSorley, ICLMG national coordinator
(613) 241-5298
national.coordination@iclmg.ca

ICLMG’s Video Explainer 2: What’s in C-59? New Oversight and Review Mechanisms

Watch our second explainer video on Bill C-59, the National Security Act, and what changes it would bring to oversight and review of national security activities in Canada. While new review and oversight mechanisms are good, they still won’t protect our rights and ensure accountability.

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Letter: Criminalization of freedom of expression and international solidarity in Peru

90 organizations including the ICLMG have signed on to this letter sent to the Peruvian authorities

November 17, 2017

Ministro Víctor Ricardo Luna Mendoza Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Ministro Enrique Javier Mendoza Ramírez
 Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos

RE: Criminalization of freedom of expression and international solidarity in Peru

Esteemed Minister Luna and Minister Mendoza Ramírez:

The undersigned organizations write with concern over the criminalization of freedom of expression and international solidarity in Peru. In particular, we are alarmed following the harassment and the illegal and arbitrary detention of MiningWatch Canada’s Latin America Program Coordinator Jen Moore and US journalist and filmmaker John Dougherty between April 18 to 23, 2017, as well as their subsequent prohibition from entry to Peru for an indefinite period. We urge you to take all measures necessary to stop this process of criminalization, including to lift the migratory alert that impedes their reentry to Peru and to prevent such a situation from occurring again against them or others.

The detention of Ms. Moore and Mr. Dougherty took place following a public screening of the documentary “Flin Flon Flim Flam” about Hudbay Minerals’ operations in the Americas. This was preceded by defamation in the press, harassment, and police surveillance.

On April 22 in the morning, hours after being detained by police and before having the opportunity to defend themselves, Ms. Moore and Mr. Dougherty were publicly incriminated on the website of the Ministry of Interior of having incited local residents to rise up against mining and of being a threat to public order, implicating them in a series of violent acts in which they did not participate. By acting in this manner, the Peruvian authorities violated the rights of the two researchers to freedom of expression, privacy and due process.

Fearful that they could become victims of further arbitrary abuses from Peruvian authorities, the two voluntarily left Peru on April 23 with plans to continue the process through their legal counsel in Peru. This same day, without any notification or due process, the Superintendent of Migration imposed an indefinite migratory alert against their reentry to the country, outrageously de- termining that showing a film about mining constitutes a threat to public order in Peru.

This process of criminalization is not just a violation of the right to freedom of expression of the two researchers, but also a collective rights violation, considering the fundamental connection between freedom of expression and the exchange of information and communication. In this regard, it is the right of local communities living near Hudbay Minerals’ mine, as well as the general public in the cities of Cusco and Lima, to be able to access available information about the negative impacts of mining.

We believe that the stigmatization in the press and by a public authority, police harassment, illegal and arbitrary detention, and prohibition from entry to Peru of the two researchers are the result of two factors: 1) the privatization of the public security apparatus in Peru; and 2) Hudbay Minerals’ apparent attempt to exert control over what information communities living around its Constancia mine have access to.

With regard to the former, on May 8 of this year, the company publicly confirmed that the national police has a contract with Hudbay Minerals’ Peruvian subsidiary to provide it with security services. This contract subordinates the police to the company and its security needs, creating a serious conflict of interest with their public service role. Representatives of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights acknowledged this at a hearing on this subject in Buenos Aires on May 25, during which Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay stated that contracts between police and private companies should be abolished. On July 19, 2017, the UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights also expressed concern over these contracts after a visit to Peru, noting that they create confusion over the role of the police to first and foremost protect public security, and further undermine confidence in this state institution.

With regard to the latter, while Hudbay has publicly denied having lobbied Peruvian authorities to respond in its favour in this case, the rapid public response of the Minister of the Interior and its explicit expression of support for the company’s interests immediately following Ms. Moore and Mr. Dougherty’s arbitrary detention indicates an unusual level of interest on the part of the Peruvian state in their situation. Furthermore, based on earlier available versions of Hudbay’s contract with police for 24-hour security in the area of its Constancia mine, it is possible that police were obliged to detect and respond in coordination with Hudbay’s personnel to the presence of Ms. Moore and Mr. Dougherty. In addition to other potential involvement, Hudbay personnel were reported to have questioned local community leaders about the film screenings during the days before their detention.

Given the above, the undersigned urge that you take all measures necessary to stop the criminalization of the MiningWatch worker and US journalist, that you order the migratory alert against their reentry to Peru be lifted, and that a full public rectification be published on the Ministry of Interior’s website, and all false accusations against the two be removed. Additionally, we urge you to take all necessary measures to prevent future police surveillance, harassment, arbitrary detention, and criminalization against them and any other researchers, academics, journalists, public speakers, and human rights defenders. Finally, it is vitally important that the privatization of police services and the public security apparatus be brought to a halt, in follow up to the statements of concern made by the IACHR, since it only serves to facilitate the criminalization of dissent in particular in areas where communities are in conflict with extractive industry projects that put them at risk.

Attentively,

1. Acción Colectiva, Guanajuato, México
2. Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
3. Agrupación de Pequeños Regantes y No Regantes Río Mostazal, Chile
4. Asociación de Desarrollo Económico Social Santa Marta (ADES), El Salvador
5. Americas Policy Group, Canada
6. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN), Canada
7. Asociación Amigos de San Isidro Cabañas (ASIC), El Salvador
8. Asociación CEIBA, Guatemala
9. Asociación para el Desarrollo de El Salvador (CRIPDES), El Salvador
10. Bibaani A.C., Oaxaca
11. Bios Iguana A.C., México
12. CAOI
13. Cabildo por las Mujeres de Cuenca, Ecuador
14. Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ)
15. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
16. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), U.S.
17. Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Canada
18. Centro Humboldt, Nicaragua
19. Cercle des Premières Nations de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM)
20. CESTAAmigosdelaTierraElSalvador
21. CensatAguaViva-AmigosdelatierraColombia
22. CODETAC, Panamá
23. Colectivo Voces Ecológicas, Panamá
24. Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida, Colombia
25. Comité Chileno por los Derechos Humanos, Montreal, Canada
26. Comité Ixtepecano en Defensa de la Vida y el Territorio, Oaxaca
27. Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL), Montreal, Canada
28. Comité Regional de Promoción de Salud Comunitaria (Mesoamerica)
29. Common Frontiers, Canada
30. Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), Québec Casa Panteón, Oaxaca
31. Consejo Tiyat Tlali, Puebla, México
32. Cooperacción, Perú
33. Coordinadora Ambiental Valles en Movimiento, Monte Patria, Chile
34. Coordinadora Ni Una Sola Mina, Costa Rica
35. COPINH, Honduras
36. The Democracy Center, Bolivia/U.S.
37. Earthworks, US
38. ECUARUNARI, Ecuador
39. Education In Action, Ottawa, Canada
40. Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC)
41. FEDEPAZ, Peru
42. Femmes de diverses origines-Women of Diverse Origins, Montreal, Québec
43. FESPAD, El Salvador
44. First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining, British Columbia, Canada
45. Forest Peoples Programme, U.K.
46. Frente Nacional por la Salud de los Pueblos, Ecuador
47. Fundacion Savia Roja, Ecuador
48. Grufides, Peru
49. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project, U.S.
50. Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario AC.
51. International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Canada
52. Inter Pares, Canada
53. Justiça nos Trilhos, Brasil
54. Madison Arcatao Sister City Project, US
55. Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Canada
56. McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA)
57. Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), Toronto
58. Mining Justice Action Committee, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
59. Mining Justice Alliance, Vancouver, British Columbia \, Canada
60. MiningWatch Canada
61. Movimiento Ecologista de Mujeres del Sur, Ecuador
62. Movimiento Mesoamericano en contra del Modelo Extractivo Minero (M4)
63. Movimiento Morelense Contra las Concesiones de Minería a Tajo Abierto por Metales, México 64. Movimiento para la salud de los Pueblos Latinoamerica (MSPLA)
65. Mujeres Jeromeñas Defensoras de la Madre Tierra, Oaxaca
66. Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
67. Palenke Alto Cauca – Proceso de Comunidades Negras (Colombia)
68. PlataformaInternacionalcontralaImpunidad
69. Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA), Chile 70. Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Mineros (OCMAL)
71. Ontarians for a Just and Accountable Mineral Policy, Canada
72. Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
73. Otros Mundos AC/Chiapas, México
74. People’s Health Movement Canada/Mouvement populaire pour la santé au Canada
75. Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos (PIAP), México
76. Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC), Québec
77. Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
78. Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres defensoras de Derechos Sociales y Ambientales
79. Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA)
80. Red Muqui, Perú
81. Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomaprieta, Colombia
82. Rights Action, Canada
83. SICSAL (Servicios Internacionales Cristianos de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de America Latina — Oscar Romero), Canada
84. StopTheInstitute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 85. United for Mining Justice, Canada
86. United Steelworkers, Canada
87. WES Global Connections
88. Washington Ethical Society
89. World Dharma
90. Yasunidos Guapondelig, Ecuador

View the PDF of the letter

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