Take action!

Senate committee misses opportunity to protect rights in study of national security bill, C-59. Now Senate as a whole must act.

OTTAWA, ON, May 13, 2019 – The Senate committee on national security and defence has 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).

Bill C-59 was passed by committee without substantial amendment today, despite calls from leading civil liberties and human rights groups, and hundreds of letters from the public.

“National security concerns cannot 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. “There was a missed opportunity today to address the most egregious aspects of this bill.”

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). 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;
  • 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)
  • Fails to prohibit the use and sharing, in all circumstances, of information linked to mistreatment and torture;
  • Will allow 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 provisions adopted by the committee today to reduce the number of years before review of Bill C-59, and which allow the Intelligence Commissioner to suggest conditions on surveillance authorizations, are welcome, but are severely insufficient.

The committee also had the opportunity to improve on the strongest part of the bill: new national security review and oversight bodies. The ICLMG has welcomed the proposed National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), as well as the Intelligence Commissioner. Greater transparency, independence and the ability to make binding recommendations, as well as offer redress for complainants when abuse is found, though, are essential to ensure both accountability and that the public have faith in the review and oversight system being created.

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 in Bill C-59. With new powers of surveillance and data collection, ongoing secretive activities, and the real threat to due process, free expression and privacy, these bodies risk simply becoming rubber stamps,” said McSorley.

The bill will now return to the full Senate for debate and vote at third reading. The ICLMG is urging senators to use this last opportunity to take a strong position in defending civil liberties and human rights in Canada and internationally, all while protecting the safety of people in Canada and abroad.

Take action and urge the Senate to protect our human rights and fix C-59

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

– 30 –

Read our National Coordinator’s live-tweeting thread of the meeting

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

Canada is deporting a man to torture. Will we let that happen?

By Anne Dagenais Guertin & Tim McSorley

This is a story about a man who came to Canada as a refugee out of fear of persecution in his home country. Several years later, though, he was jailed without charge based on allegations from a secret informant who failed a lie-detector test and whom the judge refused to make available for cross-examination.

After his arrest, the government proceeded to destroy the original “evidence” against him. Only a summary was given to a special, security-cleared lawyer, who wasn’t allowed to discuss the evidence with the person in question. The process that followed, based on a special law, was so skewed that the courts were allowed to make their decisions based on information not normally admissible in a court of law.

It doesn’t end there. Over the next 16 years, this person faced constant monitoring and harassment by government officials, three-and-a-half years of detention, including one in solitary confinement, and years of house arrest but has never event been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

On top of all this, he is now facing deportation to torture because he is not a Canadian citizen.

After hearing this story, do you think it unfair? Do you think it is shocking that this could happen in Canada? Do you believe this needs to stop — and should never have happened in the first place?

What if we told you the person we are talking about is a Muslim man named Mohamed Harkat, who Canada is attempting to deport based on secret, unproven national security allegations? Would that change your answers to the questions above?

Unfounded fear and hatred of Muslims, migrants and refugees, already long-standing, became worse after Sept. 11, 2001, and are now acceptable public discourse. The examples are many: Politicians winning elections on hatred of Muslims and foreigners; fear-mongering over the refugee caravan and asylum seekers forced to cross the U.S.-Canada border between official points of entry because of the Safe Third Country Agreement; and the stunning increase of reported hate crimes in Canada in 2017, up 151 per cent for Muslims alone.

The fear of Muslims is now so pervasive that, in 2017, a young man was convinced that committing a terrorist attack and killing six worshippers at a Quebec City Mosque would protect people… from a terrorist attack. Fear leads us to do illogical things. And it leads us to renounce long-held principles that we otherwise say define us as Canadians, including freedom of thought and religion, the prohibition of torture, the fundamental right to due process and a fair trial, and the principle of innocence until proven guilty before a court of law.

Our point is that we are being duped: duped into giving up our rights and our ideals — including a more just and equal society for all, legally, economically and socially — through fear-mongering. We are being distracted by people who want to hoard more money and power for themselves by pointing the finger at people simply in search of a better life. People who come here in fear of persecution in their home country. People like Mohamed Harkat.

Moe, as he is affectionately known to his family, friends and supporters (including the ICLMG, fighting alongside him for the past decade), arrived in Canada in 1995 and obtained refugee status in 1997. On Dec. 10, 2002, he was arrested outside his home in Ottawa, alleged to be a threat to national security and subjected to a security certificate. He spent years in jail despite never having been accused let alone convicted of a crime, and was released on bail in 2006 with the strictest conditions in Canadian history. He has been happily married to a French-Canadian woman for 19 years, he is a hard worker and is loved by his family, community and colleagues.

Now he faces deportation to Algeria where he will be tortured.

It’s not a fear, it’s a fact. Canada gave him refugee status in 1997 because his fear of persecution was deemed founded. Now that his name is tainted by unproven, secret national security allegations, he will be detained and tortured if he is sent back to Algeria. And we are not the only ones to acknowledge this: GermanyFrancethe U.K. and the Supreme Court of Ireland consider it unsafe to deport refugees to Algeria.

At Moe’s last bail hearing, CSIS did not file a threat assessment, and his bail conditions have been significantly lowered over the years, including the removal of his ankle monitor five years ago, demonstrating he is no longer considered a threat.

However, Moe and his wife Sophie continue to be harassed by government agents and live in fear that Moe could be deported any day. Their health and quality of life have been greatly impacted for too long. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has the power to stop Moe’s deportation to torture and allow him to stay in Canada with his family and friends. He can prevent Canada from once again being complicit in torture, and he can rectify the great injustice that has been done to Moe in violation of what Canada claims to be: a country respectful of human rights and civil liberties.

You can change that today, on International Human Rights Day. Take action by calling Prime Minister Trudeau, sending a letter to your MP, signing the petition – and more! – to stop the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat.

It’s the right thing to do.

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

Page 3 of 1112345...10...Last »