The Absolute Prohibition Against Torture
“Let us be clear: torture can never be an instrument to fight terror, for torture is an instrument of terror.”
Kofi Annan, then Secretary General, United Nations, December 10, 2005
The prohibition against torture in Canadian and international law is absolute. It is considered a peremptory norm of international law from which there can be no derogation, even in times of emergency. The absolute prohibition against torture is found in Canada’s constitutional obligations, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and in international humanitarian law including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
A component of the absolute prohibition against torture is the principle of non-refoulement. This principle prohibits the return, transfer, extradition or deportation of an individual to a State where that individual faces the risk of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The principle of non-refoulement is a legal obligation binding upon Canada in our domestic law and in international refugee law, in international human rights law, and in international humanitarian law.
CCLA is concerned that Canada has acted in the name of national security in ways that contravene – and threaten to erode — the absolute prohibition against torture and the principle of non-refoulement:
- allegations that Afghan detainees were transferred by Canadian officials to the Afghan National Directorate of Security where the detainees were subsequently tortured, raise questions about Canada’s complicity in torture. CCLA is currently monitoring the Military Police Complaints Commission hearings which resumed in April 2010, and has called for an independent Public Inquiry into the transfer of Afghan detainees;
- allegations of transferring individuals to another State where the individual is tortured raise questions about complicity in torture. These questions arise in the case of Benamar Benatta, who was transferred by Canada on September 12, 2001, to the US where he was detained for five years; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the conditions of his detention in the US amounted to “torture”. A US Court dismissed subsequent charges against Mr. Benatta, finding that the intelligence linking him to possible terrorist activity was a “ruse” and a “sham”. After 5 years of US detention, Mr. Benatta returned to Canada where he obtained refugee status. He is now seeking damages for Canada’s actions in his alleged illegal transfer and subsequent torture in the US. CCLA continues to monitor this case;
- allegations that Canada requested the detention of a Canadian citizen and refugee by the Sudanese government also raise questions about what Canada knew or ought to have known about the subsequent torture of the individual. These issues are currently before the Federal Court in the case of Abfousian Abdelrazik who is suing for damages resulting from his prolonged detentions and torture in Sudan and Canada’s alleged role in both. He claims that Canada should have known that Sudan has a documented record of abuse and torture of detainees. In June 2009, the Federal Court held that Mr. Abdelrazik’s right to return to Canada under the Charter had been breached by the government’s refusal to issue him an emergency passport, after his passport expired while he was in Sudanese detention; in that case, the Court further held there was no reason to challenge Mr. Abdelrazik’s claim that he was tortured, but found there was no evidence that Canada knew he was being tortured while detained in Sudan. Mr. Abdelrazik has not been convicted of any crime in Canada or in any other country. CCLA is continuing to monitor this case;
- Canada provided information to the US about Maher Arar without screening the reliability of this information. Maher Arar was detained in the US and then ‘removed’ to Syria where he was tortured. When he returned to Canada, government officials downplayed his torture and leaked misleading and damaging information about him. The O’Connor Commission of Inquiry found there was no evidence to link Maher Arar to any offence or security threat to Canada. CCLA is seeking intervener status, along with other Canadian civil liberties groups, in Mr. Arar’s action against the US government currently before the US Supreme Court;
- Canada participated in questioning Omar Khadr, a minor and a Canadian citizen, during his detention by Americans, despite knowledge that Omar Khadr was being subjected to the ‘frequent flyer program’ – a method of sleep deprivation. The Supreme Court of Canada in January 2010 found that Canada had breached Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights by interrogating him while he was being ‘mistreated’, and sharing this information with the US which may have contributed to his ongoing detention and which may be used in upcoming US proceedings. CCLA intervened in the Omar Khadr case before the Supreme Court of Canada, and continues to monitor his status in the US as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay slated for a hearing before the US Military Commissions;
Accountability is the safeguard against impunity, and part of Canada’s legal obligations to uphold the absolute prohibition against torture. CCLA calls upon Canada to:
- hold an impartial public inquiry into the transfer of Afghan Detainees
- seek the repatriation of Omar Khadr, as an appropriate remedy, following the Supreme Court of Canada 2010 decision that his Charter rights were violated
- follow-through with the December 2010 Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security House of Commons vote to publicly apologize to and compensate Messrs. Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin, and Ahamad El Maati;
- implement all the recommendations of the 2006 Maher Arar Commission of Inquiry
on July 13, 2012
The 2012 Summer Series is a collection of essays, articles and op-eds published by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The Summer Series explores some key questions about rights and responsibilities in democracy and examines topical issues through a civil liberties lens.
To view all articles of the Summer Series, click here.
Senator Romeo Dallaire and Omar Khadr’s Canadian legal counsel are teaming up withChange.org to launch a petition in support of Khadr’s repatriation. Given your commitment to human rights and basic justice, we’d like to a call on your support to help promote this initiative.
Specifically, we would like you to draw attention to this petition.
Change.org is sending the email on behalf of Senator Dallaire to approximately half a million Canadians, but we are hoping to reach many more with your help.
Sukanya Pillay, director of the national security program at CCLA, recently wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post detailing six reasons for which Omar Khadr should be allowed to come back to Canada.
Please read at attached petition, and thanks in advance. Hope to hear back from you soon.
Nathalie Des Rosiers
About this Petition
The case of Omar Khadr-a Canadian citizen and former child soldier-is a stain upon our society and shows a blatant disregard for Canada’s obligations under international law.
During his 10 nightmarish years at Bagram and Guantánamo Bay, Omar Khadr’s rights have been violated time and again. He has been denied the right to due process and a fair trial, the right to protection from torture, and the rights stemming from the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict.
After years of dragging its feet, Canada finally agreed to his return in 2010, so long as he served one additional year in Guantánamo. No one forced the government’s hand. It made its promise voluntarily. That year has passed, and yet the transfer request continues to gather dust on the minister’s desk awaiting his signature. This is simply unacceptable.
Just days ago, Marine Col. Jeffrey Colwell, chief defense counsel for military commissions openly chastised Canada for crippling US efforts to enter into plea agreements: If the US “can’t carry through on their end of the bargain, it has a chilling effect on the willingness of others to plead. There was an expectation by all parties involved that Khadr was going to be home last fall. It’s July, and he’s not.”
The Americans have held up their end of the deal. Omar Khadr has held up his end of the deal. Why is the Canadian government refusing to follow through on its commitment?
Enough is enough. Canada must keep its word – and Minister Toews must authorize Omar Khadr’s return without delay. A deal is a deal.
If thousands join me, we can force Canada to honour its promise. Now is the time to speak up and spread the word. Please sign this petition and help me bring Omar Khadr home.
LGen Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire, (Ret’d), Senator
By Sukanya Pillay
on June 1, 2012
Today, the UN Committee Against Torture (“Committee”) released its Concluding Observations about Canada’s compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture (“UNCAT”). Because Canada has ratified the UNCAT, it has specific legal obligations it must implement.
As you know, CCLA has been concerned that Canada was falling short on its commitments. In earlier posts, we referred you to CCLA’s written submissions and a summary, and provided you with a description of our oral presentation to the UN Committee in Geneva on May 18th, 2012. After being briefed by the CCLA and two other Canadian NGOs, the UN Committee met with the Canadian Delegation on May 20th and 21st, 2012 in Geneva, to engage in a “constructive dialogue” about Canada’s implementation of UNCAT.
Well, we are happy to tell you that the UN Committee seems to have picked up on CCLA’s key concerns and incorporated our suggestions into their Concluding Observations. Some of the issues CCLA highlighted, which appear in the Committee’s Concluding Observations include (but are not limited to) the following:
- the use of information tainted by torture in the Hassan Almrei Security Certificate and potentially in other Security Certificates;
- the limitations of Special Advocates in the Security Certificate process and recommendations to ensure fundamental justice is upheld;
- risks to Canadians detained abroad;
- the need to recognize that non-State or private actors may commit torture — for example through domestic violence — and this triggers legal obligations for Canada as a State Party — namely to investigate and to provide a remedy, or to risk acquiescing in torture;
- the legal argument to interpret Canada’s State Immunity Act to allow torture victims to have access to civil recourse and remedies against foreign State torturers;
- Canada’s use of deportation, rather than prosecution, of individuals over whom Canada would have universal jurisdiction for serious crimes such as war crimes or crimes against humanity — and potential impunity of such ‘deported’ individuals;
- Bill C31 – excessive Ministerial Discretion to deem groups as “irregular arrivals”, mandatory detentions, and the lack of appeals on the merits for all;
- the complicity of Canadian officials in the human rights violations of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay and our call for Mr. Khadr’s immediate repatriation to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada, and that he receive appropriate redress;
- the principle of non-refoulement inadequately upheld in Canadian legislation and practice;
- Canadian security agencies uses of information tainted by torture;
- our repeated call for an integrated oversight mechanism of security agencies be implemented, as recommended by Justice O’Connor in the Arar Commission Report;
- CCLA’s concerns over the detention conditions and segregation of mentally ill individuals;
- CCLA’s concerns over the disproportionately high rates of violence and incarceration found with respect to Aboriginal women;
- CCLA’s concerns over the use of tasers;
- and CCLA’s concerns about policing demonstrations including the G8, the G20, and Montreal student protests.
The Committee has asked Canada to implement specific recommendations regarding the above concerns, and to respond in writing to specific questions by June 1, 2013, in its Concluding Observations – You can read it here. CCLA will continue working to ensure that Canada complies with its legal obligations pursuant to UNCAT, we will monitor Canada’s responses to the UN Committee’s recommendations, and we will continue to keep you posted.
By Sukanya Pillay
on May 21, 2012
On Monday May 21, 2012 and Tuesday May 22, 2012, Canada will be appearing before the UN Committee Against Torture. Canada will engage in a constructive dialogue with Committee Members, regarding Canada’s implementation of, and compliance with, the UN Convention Against Torture.
To watch Canada’s appearance before the UN Committee Against Torture LIVE click here http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/
Canada has signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, which means Canada has voluntarily assumed binding legal obligations contained in this treaty.
CCLA appeared before the UN Committee on Friday, May 18th,2012 to brief Committee members of our concerns. We hope the Committee members will use CCLA’s briefing materials to engaged in a more informed question and answer session with the Canadian delegation.
By Sukanya Pillay
on May 18, 2012
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association today made a presentation to members of the UN Committee Against Torture, at the United Nations Palais Wilson in Geneva. The Committee is comprised of ten legal experts from around the world, charged with overseeing how State Parties implement the Convention at home.
CCLA presented highlights from our report to the Committee Members, on Canada’s compliance with its legal obligations pursuant to the UN Convention Against Torture. To read our report, click here: FINAL CCLA UNCAT MAY 2012 To read a SUMMARY, click here: CCLA SUMMARY UNCAT
CCLA answered questions regarding (i) the need for Canada to provide legal redress for victims of torture and State Immunity — in particular CCLA argued that interpretation of the State Immunity Act to bar civil suits for torture is tantamount to granting impunity for a violation of jus cogens; (ii) the need for Canada to recognize that domestic violence in the case of Nathalie Morin and her three children — all Canadian citizens unable to leave Saudi Arabia — can constitute torture and requires States to investigate and intervene – particularly where both Canada and Saudi Arabia are State Parties to the Convention Against Torture; (iii) CCLA’s concerns on the lack of implementation of legal safeguards and policy recommendations coming from the two Federal Commissions of Inquiry headed by Justices O’Connor and Iacobucci; (iv) and following from the last point, our concerns that plans for “information sharing and pooling” pursuant to the proposed Canada-US Security Perimeter must comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the recommendations of the two Inquiries; (v) Bill C31 and CCLA’s ongoing concerns regarding violations of the rights of refugees; (vi) incarceration and segregation of individuals with mental health issues; (vii) extradition, the principle of non-refoulement, and CCLA’s concern that individuals should not be deported or extradited to the risk of torture, the risk of a manifestly unfair trial, or to face charges based upon corrupted information procured from torture; and (viii) CCLA’s work in seeking accountability for the failures of the G20 policing in Toronto in 2010 and CCLA’s reaction to the OIPRD report released earlier this week.
The Canadian delegation will be appearing before the UN CAT on Monday, May 21, 2012, and Tuesday, May 22, 2012. CCLA will be providing the Committee Members with a summary brief, which we hope may be useful during the Constructive Dialogue between the Committee and the Canadian Delegation. We will keep you posted on the proceedings.
By Sukanya Pillay
on April 17, 2012
Canada has publicly urged Iran not to execute 44 year-old Canadian-Iranian Hamid Ghassemi-Shall. Mr. Ghassemi-Shall is being held in the notorious Evin prison. While on a family visit to Iran in 2008, he was arrested by Iranian authorities and accused of being a spy. Since then, Mr. Ghassemi-Shall has been imprisoned and unable to return to his home and family in Canada.
CCLA welcomes the actions of Prime Minister Harper, and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, in seeking to protect the fundamental rights of Mr. Ghassemi-Shall — a Canadian held abroad — and in seeking to ensure that Iran complies with international law. CCLA is particularly concerned that Mr. Ghassemi-Shall faces the threat of execution, that he has been arrested and detained without fair trial, and, reportedly, that he has been subjected to cruel treatment — all contrary to international legal standards.
Previously, CCLA has called on the Canadian government to protect the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens detained in foreign countries, by urging these foreign governments to comply with their legal obligations in international law.
By Sukanya Pillay
on March 23, 2012
The Canadian Press recently published a document obtained through an access to information request. The document is a Directive to CSIS, from the Minister of Public Safety, dated July 28, 2011, and deals with torture.
The Directive, entitled “Information Sharing with Foreign Entities”, essentially permits two types of information sharing:
(1) CSIS is permitted in certain circumstances to share information with a foreign state, even when CSIS knows the information may result in an individual abroad being tortured. Any such information-sharing must be in accordance with Canada’s legal obligations.
CCLA RESPONSE: CCLA argues that Canada’s legal obligations – domestic and international – prohibit complicity in torture.
(2) CSIS is permitted, in exceptional circumstances, to rely on and share information that was procured by torture, with domestic and foreign recipients. All decisions about sharing information will be made in accordance with Canada’s legal obligations.
CCLA RESPONSE: CCLA argues that Canada’s domestic and international legal obligations prohibit the “fruits of torture” – i.e. information procured from torture – being used (i) as evidence in legal proceedings, (ii) to deprive an individual of his or her liberty, or (iii) to deprive an individual of his or her legally guaranteed human rights.
We will continue to monitor developments on information-sharing and torture, and will keep you posted.
The Windsor Star today published a CCLA op-ed stating our position that evidence obtained through torture is illegal in Canadian and international law, is immoral, and is dangerous. Our op-ed was written in mid-February 2012 — in response to revelations that the Minister of Public Safety had written a December 2010 letter (since replaced by the July 2011 Directive described above) to CSIS endorsing the sharing of information procured by torture in exceptional circumstances.
To read our op-ed, click here
By Sukanya Pillay
on February 22, 2012
CCLA Concerned About Lack of Constitutional Safeguards in Security Certificate Process
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association continues to be concerned that Canada’s Security Certificate process unjustifiably impairs key constitutional rights, including due process and compliance with the principles of fundamental justice.
We are concerned that Named Individuals continue to be unaware of the full details of the case against them, and continue to be impaired in making full defence. We argue that the introduction of Special Advocates does not cure these concerns, because the Special Advocate is also constrained in communications with the Named Individual.
We are concerned that evidence obtained from torture has been found by Canadian courts to have formed the bases of some Certificates.
We are concerned that Named Individuals face possible deportation to countries, where these Individuals fear they risk being tortured.
Finally we are concerned that by using Security Certificates against non-Canadians, we are creating a second tier of justice for non-Canadians or permanent residents.
CCLA believes that the Security Certificate process is not compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, does not demonstrably enhance national international law commitment to the absolute prohibition against torture.
*CCLA originally released this statement in press materials made available on February 15th, 2012
By Sukanya Pillay
on February 8, 2012
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is very concerned by reports that Public Safety Minister Victor Toews approves the use, by CSIS, of information procured by torture.
Reportedly, the Minister said that CSIS may “share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment.”
CCLA supports the prioritization of protecting human life, safety and property – but we do not believe that the “fruits of torture” will further these goals. Rather, we believe that torture is incompatible with security.
Torture is the worst physical or mental abuse that can be inflicted upon a human being, and as such, it has been criminalized by civilized nations and absolutely prohibited in international law. The contemporary international law ban on torture was born out of the ashes of World War II, when the international community learned of the atrocities committed upon human beings who were prisoners of war or held in concentration camps. At that time, the world determined that the only way to prevent such evils from recurring was to recognize that there can never be a justification for one human being to perpetrate torture upon another human being. This cornerstone of the international legal framework, which is also part of the Canadian constitution and Criminal Code – permits the punishment of terrorists, but the torture of no one.
To reverse these fundamental beliefs — to practice or condone torture — is ultimately to legitimize an insidious violence that will seep into all spheres of society and human relations. Torture corrupts not only legal systems, it also corrupts human beings.
A Canada that condones torture – even abroad — will devolve into a very different society than that which we know today. Further, by condoning torture abroad, we expose Canadian troops, citizens and residents to the risk of torture if they are captured or detained abroad.
Torture does not occur in a vacuum. It is inevitably accompanied by a host of other serious human rights violations including the encouragement of security and law enforcement officials to engage in brutal and vicious behavior.
Information procured from torture is not only immoral and illegal – it can often be unreliable. Former US army and FBI interrogators have reported that torture is an unreliable source of information. The US army manual 2006 states that ‘torture is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the collector wants to hear’.
The debate on torture has been amplified in the United States with allegations and admissions of “coercive techniques” at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Prominent Americans such as Colonel Dwight Sullivan, head defence lawyer at the US Office of Military Commissions, and US Senator John McCain – have publicly stated that the ‘waterboarding’ of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided “false and misleading information” — and it was the lawful interrogation of detainees held elsewhere that provided useful information.
Indeed, human rights lawyers have long argued that torture is unreliable in addition to being immoral and illegal. Individuals being tortured are prone to say whatever they believe the torturers want to hear, in order to stop their suffering. In other cases, individuals are trained to provide false information to intentionally deceive their torturers. In yet other cases, an individual who is wholly innocent of the suspicions against him or her may be subjected to torture.
Proponents of torture argue that in some cases, the only way to get “life-saving information” is through torture. We disagree. Experienced interrogators – including retired US army and FBI officials – have dismissed the “ticking bomb’ scenario as rife with flawed premises. Over and over, history has shown us that lawful interrogation methods have proven more successful than unlawful methods.
CCLA believes that Canada’s commitment to the international absolute prohibition against torture is paramount and should not be undermined in any way. Accepting the fruits of torture, as the Minister suggests, is incompatible with such a commitment and leads to the condoning practices that are abhorrent to the Canadian constitution. We urge the Minister to return to the initial position that a firm commitment against the use of torture and its fruits is at the heart of the fight against terrorism.
on December 6, 2011
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is monitoring the case of Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, currently being argued in Federal Court. Lawyers for Mr. Mahjoub – who is subject to extremely strict release conditions pursuant to a Security Certificate – are asking the Court to lift these conditions.To read more about Security Certificates and how the process works, click here.
The Security Certificates issued against Mr. Mahjoub
Mr. Mahjoub was granted refugee status in Canada in 1996.
Despite facing no charges, Mr. Mahjoub was arrested and detained in 2000 on a Security Certificate alleging he was a threat to national security. Mr. Mahjoub faces deportation to his country of origin – Egypt – and argues he will be tortured if he returns there.
In 2008, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s finding the previous year that the Security Certificate scheme under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was unconstitutional, a new certificate was issued against Mr. Mahjoub under a re-crafted regime.
Some of the evidence on which both certificates were issued remains secret and, as discussed below, was found in 2010 by a Federal Court judge to reasonably include information derived from torture.
Mr. Mahjoub’s Detentions and Releases
In 2007, on Mr. Mahjoub’s third application for release from detention, a judge found that he would not pose a threat to national security if released under the strict terms set out in the order.
Mr. Mahjoub was held in detention from 2000-2008. In March 2009, Mr. Mahjoub chose to return to the detention facility as his family was having trouble living under the strict conditions of his release, including, for example, the family home being subject to intense surveillance. In late 2009, he was released from the facility once again on stringent terms. He argues that conditions of his release, such as wearing a permanent tracking device, remain invasive.
Mr. Mahjoub’s lawyers reportedly will argue this week that the basis for CSIS’s assessment that Mr. Mahjoub may be a threat to national security, is not sufficient to justify the strict conditions of his house arrest, which have resulted in irreparable psychological harm to him. While Mr. Mahjoub’s broader challenge to the reasonableness of the Security Certificate remains to be heard, his lawyers will challenge CSIS’s assessment of the threat Mr. Mahjoub poses as too vague and lacking reasonable grounds to justify the strict conditions and monitoring he faces.
CSIS and Evidence Derived from Torture
In a 2010 hearing on the admissibility of information relied on by Ministers in their case against Mr. Mahjoub, Justice Blanchard of the Federal Court found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that some of the secret evidence constituting the basis for the Security Certificate, had been procured through torture. In his ruling, the judge held that the Security Intelligence Report about Mr. Mahjoub be reviewed to exclude information obtained through torture, which is inadmissible in Canadian law. Justice Blanchard wrote that, in his view, CSIS policies and practices “do not provide for an effective mechanism to ensure that such information is actually excluded from the evidence relied on by the Ministers.” Click here to read the decision.
This past weekend, the Montreal Gazette reported that it had obtained a January 2008 letter written by the former director of CSIS, Jim Judd, arguing against a legislative amendment that would have legally banned information procured from torture, in the Security Certificate process. Mr. Judd expressed concern that a derivative information ban would hinder the CSIS’s information-gathering and analysis function, and could make Security Certificate proceedings at the time unsustainable. The amendment, which eventually was adopted, made any information obtained from torture, or “derivative information”—information that was derived from information initially obtained through torture– inadmissible.
CCLA is concerned that the comments in Mr. Judd’s letter speak to the extent to which CSIS may have continued to rely on evidence taken from torture in its information gathering and reporting, despite assertions to the contrary.
We will continue to keep you posted on Mr. Mahjoub’s case.
By Sukanya Pillay
on December 6, 2011
The Montreal Gazette reported on Saturday December 3 that it had obtained a memo written in 2008 by former CSIS director, Jim Judd. The memo argues in favour of CSIS relying upon information procured through torture — or “torture leads” that are subsequently corroborated — in the Security Certificate process. The CCLA is very concerned to read that CSIS favoured relying upon the “fruits of torture” even in 2008, and and may have been forwarding such information as part of the underlying bases of Security Certificates, to Ministers and to the Courts.
CCLA argues that Canadian agencies must not in any way condone or rely upon information procured from torture. Torture is a violation of human dignity and human rights. Torture not only debases and dehumanizes its victims, it also debases the torturer and the society that condones torture. Worldwide international human rights activists have argued about the clear unreliability of information procured from torture – a person being tortured can confess to anything to stop their torture. Torture is such an affront to human dignity its use can never be justified.
CCLA notes that Canada is legally bound to uphold the absolute prohibition against torture — a peremptory norm of international law from which there can never be any derogation. The prohibition against torture encompasses a prohibition against relying upon information obtained from torture in any proceedings. Similarly, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the Canadian Criminal Code, both prevent Canada from relying upon such information.
Indeed, one of the recommendations directed to CSIS from the Arar Inquiry Report (2006) is that information should never be exchanged or solicited from foreign governments known to engage in torture or other serious human rights abuses. Justice O’Connor also recommended that agencies should provide trainings for staff to learn to identify and distinguish information that may be the result of serious human rights abuses. The CCLA argues that torture is illegal, immoral, and cannot be tolerated or condoned in any manner.
As such, the CCLA is very concerned to note that in 2008, Mr. Judd’s memo argued against a legislative amendment in Bill C-3 that rendered “derivative information” – that is information initially procured from torture – inadmissible in the Security Certificate process. However, Bill C-3 passed in February 2008.
Canadian courts have found that information procured from torture was included in the bases for Security Certificates in the cases of Adil Charkaoui, Hassan Almrei, and Mohammed Mahjoub. For more information on the cases of Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei, please click here.
This week in Ottawa, Mr. Mahjoub’s lawyers are requesting a Federal Court judge to remove Mr. Mahjoub’s stringent release conditions, given that the very reasonableness of his Security Certificate has been called into question.
CCLA will continue to monitor this important case and keep you posted.
>> Read more about CCLA’s position on the absolute prohibition against torture