Canadian Security Certificate (CSIS)
Secret trials: Canada's worst dirty little secret?
Prominent Canadians demand abolition of "security certificates"
10 December 2004
OTTAWA - The federal government must abolish security certificates, hold open trials for all detainees and not deport them, prominent Canadians demanded today in Ottawa. Across the country, people staged actions in honour of December 10th, the International Day for Human Rights, to bolster those demands. Five Muslim men have waited a combined total of over 174 months in Canadian jail cells without bail, charges, or evidence that even their lawyers can't access. All face the risk of deportation into torture. "The security certificate process does not conform to a number of essential international legal standards," said Alex Neve, General Secretary of Amnesty International Canada (English-speaking branch). "Justice and security will prevail only when we disallow violations of fundamental human rights such as arbitrary detention and torture, and instead institute fair proceedings. But the security certificate denies both justice and security."
Supporters of Mohamed Harkat and the four other Muslim men being held on security certificates released a statement signed by over 300 groups and individuals sharing Neve's concerns. Notable signatories include NDP leader Jack Layton, singer Bruce Cockburn, film-maker Denys Arcand and former Progressive Conservative MP Flora MacDonald, all of whom share strong concerns about the weakening of fundamental human rights in Canada in the name of the "war on terror." Organizational supporters include the Law Union of Ontario, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, labour unions, Amnesty International and nineteen other human rights organizations. "These secret trials may be Canada's worst dirty little secret," said Deborah Bourque, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
"This security legislation clearly comes from a fear-based government agenda that gives police and courts more power while integrating Canadian and U.S. policies on immigration." Riad Saloojee, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, spoke of the fear that the detentions have evoked in the Arab and Muslim communities.
"For many Canadian Muslims and Arabs, security certificates embody an arbitrary and non-transparent legal process that they never expected to find in a democratic country they now call home," said Saloojee. "Muslims and Arabs have unfortunately been the most common casualties under this deeply flawed process." Today's day of action against secret trials sees events and actions happening in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax, among other cities.
The Muslim men being held are: Hassan Almrei, Syrian, held since October 20, 2001; Adil Charkaoui, Moroccan, held since May, 2003; Mohamed Harkat, Algerian, held since December 10, 2002; Mahmoud Jaballah, Egyptian, held for 9 months in 1999, cleared of allegations, held again since August 2001; Mohammad Mahjoub, Egyptian, held since June, 2000. A sixth man, Ernst Zündel, a German, has been held since February 2003.
Source: Justice Committee for Mohamed Harkat
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