News from ICLMG

Omar Khadr settlement just & necessary, says International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, 30, is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, July 6, 2017. The federal government has paid Khadr $10.5 million and apologized to him for violating his rights during his long ordeal after capture by American forces in Afghanistan in July 2002. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel ORG XMIT: CNP306

Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, 30, is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, July 6, 2017. The federal government has paid Khadr $10.5 million and apologized to him for violating his rights during his long ordeal after capture by American forces in Afghanistan in July 2002. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel ORG XMIT: CNP306

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) has welcomed the government’s apology and compensation for Omar Khadr.

Since it’s founding in 2002, the ICLMG has expressed concern that Canada’s creeping national security and anti-terror laws, and its participation in the international war on terror, have posed a threat to our rights and freedoms.

“When Canadians’ rights are violated, the government must be held accountable,” said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the ICLMG.

However, despite an outpouring of support for Khadr and the settlement, there has also been enormous backlash from several politicians and an important portion of the Canadian public.

On one hand, this is unsurprising as Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and the Canadian and US media spent the last 15 years peddling misinformation and fear-mongering rhetoric about Omar Khadr.

On the other hand, it is troubling to see that so many Canadians, who celebrate Canada as a champion of human rights, are so vehemently against reparations for a former child soldier who was interrogated by Canadian and American officials (rather than rehabilitated as mandated by international law), tortured, and then abandoned until he was forced to “confess“ in order to finally leave Guantanamo Bay (an extra-judiciary military detention center that should never have been opened in the first place).

And not that this should matter when it comes to respecting human rights, due process and the rule of law, but, as highlighted in the National Observer, what if Omar Khadr isn’t guilty?

Canada’s settlement with Omar Khadr joins a growing list of instances, including the cases of Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Elmaati, Muayyed Nurredin, and Benamar Benatta, where the government has been forced to admit failing to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to dire and horrendous consequences.

“It is necessary and just that the Canadian government takes action to repair the damage done to these individuals and any others who the government fails to protect,” said McSorley. “However, we hope for the day where the government upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms unfailingly, and such settlements are no longer needed.”


Read our press release co-authored with the Rideau Institute: Omar Khadr apology and compensation long overdue, but systemic changes are also needed to protect human rights

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Coalition Objects to Renewed Calls for Weaker Encryption Following ‘Five Eyes’ Ottawa Meeting

o-ENCRYPTION-facebookBy CIPPIC – A letter was sent today on behalf of coalition comprised of 83 leading organizations, including the ICLMG, and experts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States to their respective governments in reaction to renewed state calls for measures that would effectively weaken encryption. The letter responds to a ministerial meeting of the five governments’ respective security officials hosted in Ottawa earlier this week, where possibilities for facilitating increased state access to encrypted data were discussed.

The ministerial occurred under the auspices of the ‘Five Eyes’ – a surveillance partnership between intelligence agencies within the five countries, including Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE). It generated a joint Communique, which presented encryption as a serious barrier to public safety efforts and an impediment to state agencies wishing to access the content of some communications for investigative reasons.

The coalition letter, which was organized by Access Now, CIPPIC, and researchers from Citizen Lab, called on the Five Eye governments to “respect the right to use and develop strong encryption” while urging broader public participation in future discussions such as the one that occurred earlier this week. Strong and uncompromised encryption has never been more important, as it protects our most sensitive data, our increasingly critical online interactions, even the integrity of our elections.

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This Summer: Grill your MP on National Security

iclmgSMALLBBQ season is slowly winding down but you can still contact your MP to let them know that the protection of civil liberties doesn’t take time off in the summer!

Below are 7 short questions and asks you can make of your Member of Parliament before Parliament comes back at the end of September. Here’s the PDF version.

Find out who is your MP, what is their email address, constituency office address or phone number to send them the questions or talk to them on the phone or in person: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

If you want, send us their responses at communications@iclmg.ca so we can follow up with them and hold them up to what they’ve said.

Please share widely via email, on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Bill C-51 & Bill C-59

The issue: Bill C-51 created the Anti-Terror Act, 2015. It was passed with little debate, no evidence showing it was needed, and no amendments. The law serves to weaken our security by eroding our right to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association. The Liberals have introduced Bill C-59 which they say will fix the most egregious issues. However, minor changes and new review mechanisms (albeit welcome) do not fix bad laws. We need the government to take firm action on human rights and civil liberties: C-51 must be repealed.

Question for your Member of Parliament: Bill C-59 makes minor changes to some parts of C-51 and leaves most of it untouched. What actions will you take to make sure that C-51 is repealed and that our rights aren’t diminished by national security laws?

Want more info?
Read our concerns on C-51: http://iclmg.ca/issues/bill-c-51-the-anti-terrorism-act-2015/
Read our press release on C-59: http://iclmg.ca/bill-c-59-despite-improvements-canadian-government-misses-opportunity-for-bold-action-on-civil-liberties-and-national-security/

Torture

The issue: The Ministerial Directives on Torture – or torture memos – allow the Canadian government to share intelligence with, and receive intelligence from, countries that engage in torture. These exceptions allow countries that practice torture to continue their illegal and unjust actions, knowing that they won’t be cut off from the information-sharing community. In January 2016 the government said they would review the directives. It’s now June 2017 and they just announced they will be consulting on how to change the memos. We don’t need more consultation – we need action! Furthermore, the government is still contemplating sending Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee, back to Algeria where he risks being jailed and tortured. The Liberal government has said they are absolutely against torture; it is time to show it!

Question for your MPInformation potentially derived from torture should never be used, and people should never be sent to a country where they face risks of torture. Will you commit to explicitly banning the use of information gathered under torture, or the sharing of information with governments that engage in torture? Will you refuse that any individuals, including Mohamed Harkat, be sent to countries where they face torture?

Want more info?
Read this explainer by the BCCLA: https://bccla.org/2016/11/end-canadian-complicity-in-torture/
See the Justice for Harkat website: http://www.justiceforharkat.com/news.php

Afghan Detainees

The issue: There are very serious concerns that the Government of Canada knew — or had been warned — that prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities by Canadians were tortured or faced the likelihood of abuse. If the government had been aware, and did nothing to stop it, then it could be considered a war crime. Federal Liberals who argued for a public inquiry, while in opposition, into the treatment of prisoners during the Afghan war, have now said they will not conduct such an investigation. This decision was penned by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who served three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Forces, putting him in a conflict of interest. The Ethics Commissioner found no conflict of interest but based her conclusion only on Sajjan’s account of his involvement in Afghanistan, which was different than what he told a military historian. This issue is grave enough, and murky enough, that we believe a public inquiry is necessary.

Question for your MP: For Liberal MPs: Why has the governement flip-flopped on this issue and decided against a public inquiry? For all MPs: What actions will you take to ensure that we learn the truth on Canada’s involvement in the torture of Afghan detainees?

Want more info?
Read: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/ethics-commissioner-acknowledges-sajjan-downplayed-his-role-and-knowledge-of-afghan-detainee-issue

No fly list

The issue: Canada’s no fly list has been plagued with problems: Innocent people – including dozens of kids – have ended up as “false positives” and seen their travel delayed. People are not told if they are on the list, meaning you would only know if you are listed if you are stopped at an airport, and may never even know. The current system to appeal being a false positive or being placed on the list is ineffective and time consuming. More importantly, the criminal code is sufficient to stop people suspected of a crime from boarding a plane. A secret administrative list you cannot challenge in court is a threat to civil liberties. The no-fly list should be abolished.

Question for your MP: Bill C-59 promises changes to the no fly list, but they don’t go far enough. What action are you taking to ensure there’s a redress system for false positives and people who want to challenge being on the no-fly list? What is your position on abolishing the no-fly list?

Want more info?
See this explainer by the BCCLA: https://bccla.org/2016/09/the-new-canadian-no-fly-regime-brought-in-under-the-anti-terrorism-act-2015-aka-bill-c-51/

Counter-radicalization

The issue: The government has dedicated millions of dollars to a Office for Counter-Radicalization. They have publicly committed to addressing all forms of violent extremism. However, experts state that the causes of “radicalization” and “extremism” are still little understood. And in other countries, such offices have mostly ended up targeting Muslim and Arab communities. We do need to address violence in society, but shouldn’t the focus be on social causes of violence and tension – like poverty, lack of social services, underfunded education systems, racism, homophobia, sexism – and not aimed at marginalized groups?

Question for your MP: What are you doing to ensure that the government’s “deradicalization” efforts don’t target Muslim and Arab communities? What are you doing to ensure that dissenting ideas and groups that are not violent but challenge the government’s decisions are not caught in this? What are you and your party doing to address the social causes of the most common forms of violence, like sexual assault, domestic abuse and hate crimes?

Want more info?
Read: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/monia-mazigh/counter-radicalization-terrorism_b_17103032.html

Oversight, Review and Accountability

The issue: The government has created a committee of parliamentarians to review national security (C-22), and introduced legislation to create an umbrella review agency for all national security activities (C-59). But the committee of parliamentarians faces significant limitations on what information they can access and what issues they can investigate. And the proposed umbrella review agency’s recommendations are not binding at this time. We need stronger, independent and more effective review and oversight.

Question for your MP: What is your party doing to ensure the efficiency of national security oversight and review bodies? Will you allow the committee of parliamentarians full access to the information they need? And will you let it and the new National Security Review Agency make binding decisions?

Want more info?
Read our short analysis of C-22: http://iclmg.ca/our-analysis-of-c-22-an-inadequate-and-worrisome-bill/
Read our longer brief to the Senate on C-22: http://iclmg.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2014/03/Brief-C-22-ICLMG-SENATE-COMMITTEE-final.pdf

Hassan Diab

The issue: Canadian citizen and professor Hassan Diab was extradited to France in 2014 to be investigated for the bombing of a synagogue in Paris in 1980. He was extradited on incredibly flimsy evidence that even the extradition judge in Canada expressed concern over. Since then, multiple pieces of evidence have been shown to be faulty, and a French investigative judge found overwhelming evidence that Hassan was in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. Judges have ordered his release 6 times, but each time it was blocked by the prosecution. He has now been held without charge in pre-trial detention for over 2 ½ years in France, away from his partner Rania and their two children. The Canadian government must speak out for Hassan and demand his release and return home.

Question for your MP: Are you aware that Canadian Hassan Diab has been in jail for over 30 months without charge in Paris? Will you and your party ask the Prime Minister to speak out for the release of Hassan?

Want more info?
See the Justice for Hassan Diab website: http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org
Read Amnesty International Canada’s press release: https://www.amnesty.ca/get-involved/take-action-now/canadafrance-hassan-diab-held-without-charge

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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