Thursday, Febriary 10th, my guest on The Truther Girls radio show will be Sophie Lamarche, who will talk about the arbitrary detainment of Mohamed Harkat under the Canadian process known as Security Certificates. This process enables the government to detain and deport any permanent resident or refugee without evidence of their having committed a crime or being likely to commit a crime in the near future. It is quite arbitrary, and once the process has begun, even if the person is completely innocent, little can be done to reverse it and prevent their deportation.
You can listen to the show live from 2:00-4:00 pm EST on February 10th at http://americanfreedomradio.com or download the archive from http://americanfreedomradio.com/TrutherGirls_11
For more information on the case of Mohamed Harkat and Security Certificates, visit:
Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee
FACT SHEET: SECURITY CERTIFICATES
What is a Security Certificate?
• At the request of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the government of Canada can declare any permanent resident or refugee inadmissible to this country based on undisclosed grounds. CSIS can then arrest and hold the person indefinitely, for years, without charge.
• The detained person’s lawyer is given only a summary of allegations, and is denied access to anything CSIS wants kept secret. The CSIS-approved judge is presented with some of the evidence behind closed doors, without a defence lawyer present.
• The judge’s mandate is to rule on whether there were “reasonable grounds” to issue the security certificate. CSIS need only prove that there is a possibility, or a belief, that a person might do something that threatens national security, based on the individual’s actual, past or potential activities or associations. No actual crime need have been committed. The court can rule only on whether it is possible that the allegations are true.
• The men are not permitted to answer to the accusations in a fair trial because, unlike a criminal trial, the evidence in a security certificate case remains secret “for reasons of national security”.
• If the judge upholds the Certificate, the detainee faces immediate deportation. The decision is final and no appeal is permitted.
Bill C-3 and the Supreme Court decision
On February 23, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that Security Certificates are unconstitutional in three respects:
- The use of secret evidence, with no access or recourse by the detained or their lawyers, is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- The differential treatment of refugees from that of immigrants is unfair under the Charter;
- The detention could be considered arbitrary under the Charter if no regular review is conducted.
The finding was welcomed by human rights advocates. However, instead of fixing the real problem of secret evidence, the government chose to make only cosmetic changes to the previous law, creating a system of so-called “special advocates” to review the secret evidence and cross-examine it, without consultation with the detainee. The same situation continues: a CSIS-approved judge, no access to the evidence, indefinite detention without charge, and threat of deportation to jail, torture or death.
What is a Special Advocate?
A “special advocate” is a person appointed by a court or a government, whose job is to represent the interests of the detained in the review of secret evidence and in closed evidentiary hearings to which the detained and their lawyers do not have access. This process has come under criticism by human rights groups. Ian McDonald, a former Special Advocate in the UK, resigned over the unfairness of the process.
Isn’t a special advocate better than nothing?
Special advocate processes are fundamentally flawed. The special advocates created under bill C-3 are not allowed to consult with detainees after viewing secret evidence. They are appointed, approved, and must seek permission to conduct interviews from the same CSIS-approved judge that rules on the security certificate.
The process still prevents the detained from directly facing their accusers. This restriction is the key problem with security certificates, as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in their 2007 ruling.
The special advocate process merely allows Government to claim it has complied with human rights requirements while actually allowing the problems to continue unabated.
The new version of the Certificate Process does not allow for an appeal on the findings in the case, nor does it allow appeals to be initiated during the proceedings. This is a departure from normal court practice and makes defence against allegations even harder.
Currently, Mohamed Harkat, Mohammad Mahjoub, and Mahmoud Jaballah are still detained under release conditions. certificates against Hassan Almrei and Adil Charkaoui were quashed, but not before all five Muslim men had their lives torn apart by allegations that they are connected to terrorism. These are allegations only and not criminal charges. All three face the threat of deportation to torture or death.
Who is Mohamed Harkat?
Mohamed Harkat arrived in Canada in 1995. In 1997, he was granted status as a Convention refugee from government persecution if he were to return to Algeria.
On December 10, 2002, Mohamed Harkat was arrested by undercover police outside his home in Ottawa. Mohamed spent one year of his 3 ½ year detention in solitary confinement. He was released on bail on June 21, 2006, with the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history.
All five men detained under security certificates faced brutal release conditions. One even voluntarily returned to jail rather than put his family through the torment. Courts relaxed all of the conditions of detention significantly in 2009.
THE INJUSTICE CONTINUES
The security certificate remains unjust, and an affront to the basic human rights of the detainees, still with no charges against them. If there is any evidence against these men, they should be given fair and independent trials under the criminal code.
Meanwhile, the human rights violations inherent in the security certificate process also continue in other aspects of Canadian law. In particular human rights advocates are concerned that sections of the Immigration Act and sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act also contain provisions for secret proceedings.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
SIGN our new statement against security certificates and spread the word to your groups and contacts.
CONTACT your MP or other political representative and ask for their support for the campaign.
VOLUNTEER to help the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee.
DONATE to the campaign.
www.justiceforharkat.com www.harkatstatement.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee calls for the abolition of the Security Certificate process; an immediate unconditional release of the detainees, or a fair trial if any evidence actually exists against them; the, or seeking to deport, people to countries where they will be, or may reasonably expect to be, submitted to imprisonment, torture cessation of deporting or death; and, the dismantling of the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre.
Presented by the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee (Ottawa)