News from ICLMG

Government Review of Hassan Diab Extradition Offers Few Answers, No Solutions: Civil Liberties Coalition

credit: Justin Tang / Canadian Press

August 9, 2019 (Ottawa)—The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) is deeply disappointed with the findings of the external review into the extradition and detention without trial in France of Dr. Hassan Diab. The review was commissioned by the Department of Justice and conducted by Murray Segal, the former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario.

“This review, in finding that Department of Justice lawyers and Canadian officials broke no rules, does nothing to bring justice to the grave human rights abuses suffered by Dr. Diab, or to ensure that no other person suffers similar injustices due to Canada’s flawed extradition laws,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the ICLMG.

Mr. Segal’s report makes various recommendations for the government to take into consideration, but falls far short of suggesting concrete, legislative changes that are needed to truly resolve these issues. This further reinforces the call from Dr. Diab, his supporters, and various human rights and civil liberty organizations, that the government of Canada must initiate a full, public and independent inquiry into the case of Dr. Diab and Canada’s extradition laws. These groups include Amnesty International Canada, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, all of whom have issued calls for an inquiry since Dr. Diab’s return to Canada in January 2018.

“The fact that the report concludes that Department of Justice lawyers did not break the rules provides no solace,” said McSorley. “Rather, it points to the urgent need to address the most troubling aspects of Canada’s extradition laws. The Extradition Act must be changed.”

The ICLMG is particularly concerned with the intersection between Dr. Diab’s extradition and anti-terrorism laws.

“While there is no doubt that governments should seek out to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of heinous acts like that on Rue Copernic in 1980, we cannot ignore that countries, including France, have introduced troubling laws and have espoused political priorities that undermine the rights of the accused in the pursuit of the so-called ‘war on terror,’” said McSorley.

This includes the growing use during trial of “unsourced intelligence,” the veracity of which cannot be ascertained and which can never be fully verified to ensure it was not obtained through torture or mistreatment. Such information cannot be used in Canadian criminal proceedings, but was originally included in the documents submitted by France for Dr. Diab’s extradition, and is allowable in French courts.

Also of concern is the use of extraordinary anti-terrorism laws that allow for the ongoing and indefinite detention of individuals while they are being investigated, and before they are ever put on trial. This is what led to Dr. Diab suffering in prison for three years in France, often in solitary confinement, before being released when investigating judges decided not to proceed to trial.

Canadian law ostensibly limits extraditing individuals to trial, and not to investigation. Despite clear warnings from Dr. Diab’s counsel, legal experts and human rights organizations, Canadian courts and government officials ignored the signs that Dr. Diab’s trial would not begin right away and agreed to extradition. The Ontario Court of Appeal went so far as to say they believed that Dr. Diab, “will not simply ‘languish in prison,’” which he did, for three years, at considerable cost.

Finally, we join others in questioning the release of this report two months after being submitted to the Minister of Justice, at the end of July before an election, when little public or parliamentary scrutiny will be placed on it. The release of the report at this time severely undermines the incredibly important and necessary follow-up and questioning that it deserves.

Given these outstanding concerns, it is imperative that the government seeks independent, rigorous investigation of Dr. Diab’s case and of the failings of the Extradition Act through the appointment of a full public inquiry. Nothing less will suffice.

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Contact:
Tim McSorley, ICLMG national coordinator
(613) 241-5298

Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, is now law. Parliamentarians have failed to protect Canadians’ rights and freedoms.

Ottawa, ON – On June 18, the Senate adopted Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, and it has received royal assent on June 21st. Canadian parliamentarians missed important opportunities to protect fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada and internationally by failing to bring necessary amendments to the Act.

Once again, Canadian lawmakers have failed to act to ensure that national security laws do not come at the cost of privacy, free expression, due process and government transparency,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). “Parliamentarians missed an opportunity to defend the rights of people in Canada today.”

The Liberal government has touted Bill C-59 as being a “fix” for the previous government’s controversial Bill C-51 (the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015). But while it brings some important improvements, Bill C-59:

  • Continues to allow CSIS to engage in secret and dangerous threat disruption powers;
  • Maintains the secretive No Fly List, which violates due process and has never been proven to be effective;
  • Preserves overly-broad information sharing rules that infringe on privacy and free expression;
  • Improves on review of national security activities by creating the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, but falls far short by transferring the weakest aspects of current national security review bodies to the new agency;
  • Grants sweeping new surveillance powers to both the CSE and CSIS, including the collection of metadata, vaguely defined “publicly available information,” and the incredibly broad category of “unselected information” (which essentially means any information);
  • Introduces new powers to give CSIS agents or designated individuals immunity for committing crimes in the line of their work;
  • Fails to prohibit the use and sharing, in all circumstances, of information linked to mistreatment and torture;
  • Allows the CSE to engage in broad and powerful new “active cyber operations” with little oversight, creating the risk of retaliation as well as attacks from leaked new cyber-weapons.

On May 30th, Senators had sent the bill back to the House of Commons with four amendments. The government had since proposed to only accept two of the four amendments, and the House voted in favour of that proposal last week.

The amendments accepted include one to start the review of the National Security Act, 2017 after 3 years instead of 5 years, with the report being tabled in 4 years, instead of 6, as well as one to add a schedule to the Avoiding Complicity in Foreign Mistreatment Act that would list any head of department who has been given a ministerial direction regarding the use or sharing of information that could lead to, or is derived from, torture or mistreatment.

Although we welcome these amendments, they are highly insufficient and do not fix the numerous issues with Bill C-59. Numerous calls from leading civil liberties and human rights groups, and thousands of letters from the public urging further changes to the bill have been ignored.

The national security field is an opaque one, and staying informed of all the negative consequences of this bill will be difficult. Despite this challenge, the ICLMG will be monitoring the implementation of the act, and continuing its work of protecting civil liberties and human rights against the impacts of national security legislation in Canada.

Read our more detailed recommendations and our full brief to the Senate.

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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. You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. 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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Senators fail to protect civil liberties by adopting Bill C-59 without crucial amendments

OTTAWA, ON, May 30, 2019 — Canadian senators missed an important opportunity to protect fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada and internationally by failing to bring necessary amendments to the National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59) before sending the bill back to the House of Commons.

Senators adopted Bill C-59 at third reading today, without any further amendments than the minor changes adopted at committee earlier in May. This move ignored calls from leading civil liberties and human rights groups, and hundreds of letters from the public to bring further changes to the bill.

“Once again, Canadian lawmakers have failed to act to ensure that national security laws do not come at the cost of privacy, free expression, due process and government transparency,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “Senators missed an opportunity to defend the rights of people in Canada today.”

The Liberal government has touted Bill C-59 as being a “fix” for the previous government’s controversial Bill C-51 (the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015). But while it brings some important improvements, Bill C-59:

  • Continues to allow CSIS to engage in secret and dangerous threat disruption powers;
  • Maintains the secretive No Fly List, which violates due process and has never been proven to be effective;
  • Preserves overly-broad information sharing rules that infringe on privacy and free expression;
  • Transfers the weaker aspects of current national security review bodies to the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency;
  • Grants sweeping new surveillance powers to both the CSE and CSIS, including the collection of metadata, vaguely defined “publicly available information,” and the incredibly broad category of “unselected information” (which essentially means any information);
  • Introduces new powers to give CSIS agents or designated individuals immunity for committing crimes in the line of their work;
  • Fails to prohibit the use and sharing, in all circumstances, of information linked to mistreatment and torture;
  • Allows the CSE to engage in broad and powerful new “active cyber operations” with little oversight, creating the risk of retaliation as well as attacks from leaked new cyber-weapons.

The amendments adopted earlier by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defense to reduce the number of years before Bill C-59 is reviewed, and to allow the Intelligence Commissioner to suggest conditions on surveillance authorizations, are positive, but severely insufficient.

The ICLMG has welcomed aspects of the bill:

A redress system for those erroneously caught up in Canada’s No Fly List will help ensure less travellers face undue interrogations, searches and delays at airports; although, due to unresolved issues around secrecy and due process, we maintain our position that the no-fly list regime should simply be abolished.

The new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) and Intelligence Commissioner will both help to bring greater accountability to Canada’s national security activities. At the same time, senators failed to ensure that these bodies will have all the tools necessary to accomplish their important work: greater transparency and independence; the power to make binding recommendations; and the ability to provide redress for complainants when abuse is found, though, are all essential aspects missing from this bill.

Even if review and oversight were improved, though, it still would not make up for bad laws, warns the ICLMG. “The NSIRA and the Intelligence Commissioner will only be able to enforce the rules set out by lawmakers. Bill C-59 grants new powers for surveillance, maintains secretive CSIS disruption activities, allows for concerning new active cyber operations, and fails to address real threats to due process, free expression and privacy,” said McSorley. “With laws like these on the books, these bodies risk simply becoming rubber stamps.”

Read our more detailed recommendations and our full brief to the Senate.

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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.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. 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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