News from ICLMG

Canada must act now for the release and return of Yasser Ahmed Albaz

On behalf of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and our 45 member organizations across Canada, we are calling for Mr. Yasser Ahmed Albaz’s immediate release from Tora prison in Egypt and his return to Canada.

The ICLMG is deeply concerned about Mr. Albaz welfare. In the past, our organization has supported and spoken out for others who have been arrested and imprisoned in Tora. We know how important it is in these situations that immediate action be taken at the upper levels of the Canadian government to ensure that Mr. Albaz’s rights are protected, to avoid grave mistreatment and to secure his release.

We are pleased and thankful that Canadian consular officials have met with Mr. Albaz, and that he has been able to meet with his legal counsel. We urge the Canadian government to use all possible channels to ensure Mr. Albaz is able to return home to his family, friends and colleagues in Oakville, Ontario, as soon as possible.

All too often we see state security around the world, including in Egypt, arresting individuals without charge, as in the case of Mr. Albaz. In this case, neither he nor his legal counsel have even been informed of what he is charged with. This lack of due process seriously hinders any ability to defend oneself, and raises serious concerns about the respect of Mr. Albaz’s other fundamental freedoms or protection from mistreatment. It is the duty of the Canadian government to protect the rights of its citizens, and to defend human rights internationally.

It is of the utmost importance that Canadian officials, including MPs and members of government, take immediate action to ensure Mr. Ahmed’s safety and to bring him home. We are asking them to take action today.

More details:

Press Conference at Canadian Parliament Calling for Release of Yasser Albaz (video)

‘I want my father home’: Family of man detained in Egypt calls on Canada to intervene

Detained Canadian thrown in notorious Cairo prison without charge: family

Canadian Public Deserves Answers and Action Over Troubling New National Security Report

December 18, 2018, OTTAWA—Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and the Canadian government must go further than simply reviewing the wording of the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada, and take action to address the unfounded allegations and stigmatization of Muslim and Sikh communities in the report.

“When the most lethal acts of politically-inspired violence of the past decade in Canada come from individuals espousing extreme right, misogynistic and racist ideologies, how is it that this threat continues to be minimized by state security agencies?” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). “The public, and especially the Muslim and Sikh communities, deserve clear answers, and not just an internal review of the wording of the report.”

The ICLMG shares the concerns of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization, and the Canadian Anti-Hate Coalition, all of whom raised the alarm last week over the stigmatization of Muslims and Sikhs, and the downplaying of right-wing violence in the latest threat assessment report.

While Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said that officials will review the inclusion of Shia, Sunni and Sikh as qualifiers in the text, the ICLMG says the problem runs deeper.

“There is no doubt that Canada faces threats from those inspired by violent groups like Daesh. But the use of vague qualifiers like ‘Islamist extremism’ and the refusal to acknowledge the real threat posed by white supremacists and their organizations, which already led to tragedy in Quebec City in 2017, continues to frame Canada’s Muslim communities as a threat, and not one of the primary targets, of hatred and violence,” said McSorley.

It is also highly troubling to see, without evidence or justification, the sudden inclusion of Sikh (Khalistani) extremism as a threat to Canada’s national security. “For the first time, Canada has included ‘Sikh extremism’ in a terrorism assessment report, without any evidence of recent violence or credible threats in Canada. While the tragedy of the Air India bombing still weighs heavy in Canada, it cannot be used to tarnish a community decades later,” McSorley added.

This report fits a troubling trend that the ICLMG has observed over the past 15 years, where vague security concerns with little transparency or clear basis have been used to increase police and security powers, and to place greater limitations and restraints on civil liberties. When compared to the scope of reported national security threats, these measures are disproportionate. For example, in the 2018 threat assessment, one of the “plots” used to support the report’s focus is the so-called “Canada Day” bomb plot from 2013. However, both accused in the case have been released after an appeals judge found they had been entrapped by the RCMP. While the government continues to appeal the case, it is questionable that this would be cited – without clarification – as one of only nine key events from the past 12 years.

The ICLMG is calling on the government to take immediate action to revise the 2018 threat assessment report, and to meet with concerned civil society groups to form a process of greater clarity, transparency and accountability in its national security operations and assessments.

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More information:

Tim McSorley
National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
613-241-5298
nationalcoordination@iclmg.ca

UN Report: Canada failed to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians

For immediate release

Canada failed to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians, says UN Committee Against Torture

11/12/2018, OTTAWA – A new UN report is once again criticizing Canada for failing to provide full redress for its involvement in the torture of five Canadians.

The UN Committee Against Torture just finished its regular review of Canada. In its report, it found that Canada has continued to fail to provide full redress for five Canadians who were tortured abroad, with Canada’s complicity. They are:

  • Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, who were all subjects of the Iacobucci Inquiry, which found that Canadian security agents were complicit in their torture abroad;
  • Omar Khadr, who was illegally imprisoned, and tortured in the Guantanamo Bay prison;
  • Abousfian Abdelrazik, who was arbitrarily imprisoned, and tortured in Sudan, while the Canadian government blocked his attempts to return home.

Canadian officials have been found or are alleged to have been complicit in torture in each of these cases.

For the first four men, Canada has provided cursory apologies and financial compensation. Regarding Abousfian Abdelrazik, the government has been criticized for refusing to negotiate a settlement or proceed to trial, and instead taking action that will draw the case out — possibly for years.

The Committee reported that Canada has failed to meet some of the most important requirements of redress under the Convention Against Torture, namely:

  • Investigation into those complicit in torture and mistreatment, and criminal prosecution where warranted;
  • Verification of the facts, and full and public disclosure of the truth, ideally through a public inquiry; and,
  • Official declaration or judicial decision restoring the dignity, the reputation and the rights of the victims. Particularly in the case of Omar Khadr, the government and political officials have continued to share misleading and prejudicial information about the violation of his rights.

The Committee also noted Canada’s continuing failure to provide adequate training about Convention duties for law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors and medical personnel.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), which raised these concerns in a joint report to the Committee, welcomed the findings and are calling for the government to take immediate action to meet its legal obligations to oppose torture and ill-treatment.

“The duty to provide redress for torture, one of the most egregious violations of a person’s human rights, does not end with an ambiguous — or in the case of Omar Khadr, obfuscating — apology and financial compensation,” said Gail Davidson, Executive Director of LRWC. “We must also see a full investigation to discover the facts, public disclosure of the truth, acknowledgement of the responsibility of Canadian officials, and prosecutions of those responsible for the torture and other ill-treatment.”

For example, the government’s statement of regret regarding Omar Khadr referred to Omar Khadr’s torture, ill-treatment and illegal detention as an “ordeal abroad” and expressed regret about “any role Canadian officials may have played” in “any resulting harm.” Another statement attributed the settlement as a measure to prevent costs of litigation. These statements are not true apologies and fail to meet the Convention requirements of redress. Similar issues exist in the cases of Abousfian Abdelrazik and others.

Ensuring in full this kind of redress is necessary to prevent reoccurrence of participation in torture by Canadian officials.

“By making all facts public, we are able to bring the changes necessary to end Canada’s complicity in torture. By pursuing those found to be complicit, we can end impunity and make sure that those who may wish to push, or entirely skirt, the boundaries of Canadian and international law know that they cannot do so unpunished,” added Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG.

Marking the seriousness of these concerns, the Committee also took the extraordinary step of requesting that the Canadian government file an interim report in one year, as opposed to the usual four-year review period, explaining the steps the government has taken to address the failure to provide full redress.

The submission from LRWC & ICLMG is online here.

The full report from the UN Committee Against Torture can be found here.

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For more information:

Gail Davidson, Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
604-736-1175
lrwc@portal.ca

Tim McSorley, National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
613-241-5298
national.coordination@iclmg.ca

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