INCLO Launches New Report: “Unanswered Questions – International Intelligence…

New report reveals lack of transparency of intelligence sharing agreements at the international level.

(June 11, 2018) – A year ago, ten members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) launched a global public information campaign, asking for our national governments to provide information about the current agreements intelligence service agencies have with other countries.

Today, INCLO releases a new report Unanswered Questions – International Intelligence Sharing, summing up the responses to our Freedom of Information requests.

INCLO’s attempt to shed more light on a practice largely shielded from accountability was met with inconclusive results. The records requests are ongoing, but agencies have tended to delay, reject, or not respond at all. The lack of clarity raises concerns about violations that could interfere with people’s rights to privacy, access to information, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Despite the uproar over Snowden’s revelations of vast and secretive networks seriously affecting our individual freedoms, there is still no public access to agreements governing intelligence sharing anywhere in the world. Today, the only agreements that are public are historical artifacts or those leaked by whistleblowers.

In addition, INCLO’s research has found that there are insufficient domestic laws that govern intelligence sharing partnerships and the way in which agencies operate. Moreover, there is insufficient oversight, review, and a lack of transparency to the existing agreements.

INCLO believes that adequate laws, oversight and transparency are the minimal requirements to preserve democracy and the rule of law.


“Asking for accountability for agencies with extraordinary powers and responsibilities is not naive, it is profoundly practical. It is also necessary for trust, legitimacy and social license for our intelligence agencies,” said Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. McPhail belongs to one of the nine INCLO organizations who filed the FOI request.

Elizabeth Farries, co-author with Eric King of the Unanswered Questions report, warns about the impact on the wider democratic processes of holding governments to account. “By continuing to shroud these arrangements in secrecy, governments have removed the public’s ability to challenge their actions,” Farries said. “Our right to know the structure, content and oversight of intelligence sharing agreements is vital because of the serious implications they have for our fundamental human rights, like the right to privacy or freedom of expression.”

INCLO is a network of 13 independent, national human rights organizations from the global South and North. We work together to promote fundamental rights and freedoms.


Elizabeth Farries, INCLO Information Rights Program Manager,

For more information, please see our Report.

Keep your promise on solitary confinement, groups tell Ottawa

Rights groups in legal challenges unite to urge government to comply with court orders

(le français suit)

OTTAWA, Algonquin Anishnaabeg Territory (May 14 2018) – Rights groups who have won court challenges against indefinite solitary confinement were in Ottawa this morning to urge the federal government to abide by the courts’ rulings. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC) won constitutional challenges against indefinite solitary confinement in decisions by the Ontario and British Columbia courts in late 2017 and early 2018. The groups stated that instead of implementing its election promise to end indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons, the Trudeau government has decided to fight to quash the most recent court ruling.

“Our message is clear. The government must end the torture of indefinite solitary confinement. The courts have laid out a path and the government should stop fighting and obey the court orders,” said Michael Bryant, executive director of the CCLA. “Not one but two courts have found the law unconstitutional, noting the danger and harm in this horrendous practice.”

Courts in Ontario and British Columbia concluded that Canada’s existing law on solitary confinement violates s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it places prisoners at increased risk of self-harm and suicide and causes psychological and physical harm. The B.C. Court further held that that the laws are unconstitutional because they discriminate against the mentally ill and disabled, and against Indigenous prisoners.  Each court suspended the effect of its judgment for a year to give Parliament time to comply.

Catherine Latimer, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Canada, stated: “Some prisoners are spending months and years in small cells, deprived of meaningful human contact. The evidence in our case showed that this isolation causes people severe physical and psychological harm, and can lead them to take their own lives. The BC Supreme Court ruled that the cruelty of indefinite solitary confinement has no place in our prisons, and the government should obey the law, period.”

In filing its appeal of the BC court decision, the federal government stated that it was doing so in order to have “juridical clarity” between the two decisions. Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, took issue with that statement: “There is no lack of clarity and no conflict between the BC and Ontario rulings. Both Courts struck down the existing laws and nothing is preventing the government from complying. The government is choosing to fight.”

The organizations pointed out that they wrote to the government following the court decisions urging the government to end the court battles and to fix the system. The government declined to meet to discuss the issue, instead responding by appealing the BC court decision.


Links: Ontario Superior Court of Justice rulingB.C. Supreme Court ruling


Michael Bryant, Executive Director and General Counsel, CCLA: 416-230-8658
Catherine Latimer, Executive Director, JHSC: 613-219-6471
Josh Paterson, Executive Director, BCCLA: 778-829-8973

For more information, visit our segregation challenge post here.

Tenez votre promesse au sujet de l’isolement cellulaire, disent des groupes à Ottawa

Des groupes de défense des droits dans des affaires juridiques s’unissent pour inciter le gouvernement à respecter les ordonnances de la cour

(Le français suit)

OTTAWA, Territoire Algonquin Anishnaabeg (14 mai 2018) – Des groupes de défense des droits qui ont remporté des contestations judiciaires contre l’isolement cellulaire indéfini étaient à Ottawa ce matin pour inciter le gouvernement fédéral à se conformer aux jugements rendus par les tribunaux. L’Association canadienne des libertés civiles (ACLC), l’Association des libertés civiles de la Colombie-Britannique (ALCCB) et la John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC) ont remporté des contestations constitutionnelles contre l’isolement cellulaire indéfini par des décisions rendues par les tribunaux de l’Ontario et de la Colombie-Britannique à la fin de 2017 et au début de 2018. Les groupes ont affirmé qu’au lieu de mettre en oeuvre sa promesse électorale de mettre fin définitivement à l’isolement cellulaire dans les prisons fédérales, le gouvernement Trudeau a décidé de lutter pour invalider le plus récent jugement du tribunal.

« Notre message est clair. Le gouvernement doit cesser la torture de l’isolement cellulaire indéfini. Les tribunaux ont défini une voie à suivre et le gouvernement devrait cesser de lutter et obéir aux ordonnances de la cour, » a affirmé Michael Bryant, directeur général de l’ACLC. « Non seulement un, mais deux tribunaux ont jugé la loi inconstitutionnelle, faisant remarquer le danger et le tort associés à cette horrible pratique. »

Des tribunaux de l’Ontario et de la Colombie-Britannique ont conclu que les lois actuelles du Canada portant sur l’isolement cellulaire contreviennent à la s. 7 de la Charte des droits et libertés puisqu’il   expose les détenus à des risques accrus d’automutilation et de suicide, en plus de causer un préjudice psychologique et des lésions corporelles. Le tribunal de la Colombie-Britannique a jugé que les lois sont inconstitutionnelles puisqu’elles discriminent contre les personnes handicapées et les malades mentaux, ainsi que les détenus autochtones.  Chaque tribunal a suspendu les effets de sa décision pour un an afin de donner au Parlement le temps de se conformer aux décisions.

Catherine Latimer, directrice générale de la Société John Howard du Canada a déclaré : « Certains détenus passent des mois et des années dans de petites cellules, privés de contacts humains significatifs.  La preuve apportée démontre que cet isolement cause de graves souffrances physiques et psychologiques qui peuvent aller jusqu’au suicide.  La cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique a décidé que la cruauté associée à l’isolement cellulaire indéfini n’a pas sa place dans nos prisons et le gouvernement doit obéir à la loi, point final. »

En déposant son appel contre la décision de la Cour de la Colombie-Britannique, le gouvernement fédéral a affirmé vouloir obtenir une « clarté juridique » entre les deux décisions. Josh Paterson, directeur général de l’Association des libertés civiles de la Colombie-Britannique avoue ne pas être d’accord avec cet énoncé : « Les jugements de la C.-B. et de l’Ontario ne manquent pas de clarté et ne sont pas source de conflit. Les deux tribunaux ont aboli des lois existantes et rien n’empêche le gouvernement de se conformer aux décisions. Le gouvernement choisit de lutter. »

Les organisations ont signalé qu’elles avaient écrit au gouvernement suite aux décisions des tribunaux afin de l’inciter à mettre fin aux batailles juridiques et à réparer le système. Le gouvernement a décliné l’invitation pour discuter de l’enjeu, choisissant plutôt de faire appel à la décision du tribunal de la C.-B.


Liens: Jugement de la Cour supérieure de justice de l’Ontariojugement de la Cour suprême de la C.-B.


Michael Bryant, directeur général et avocat général, ACLC : 416-230-8658
Catherine Latimer, directrice générale, JHSC : 613-219-6471
(français) Josh Paterson, directeur général, ALCCB : 778-829-8973

Bill 62 (Niqab Ban) Guidelines Cannot Save An Unconstitutional…

Le texte français suivra

– For Immediate Release –

(Ottawa – May 11, 2018) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), two prominent civil liberties & advocacy organizations, say recently issued guidelines for granting exemptions under Quebec’s Bill 62 “niqab ban” are inherently problematic and do nothing to save a law that is fundamentally unconstitutional.

Last October, the NCCM and CCLA filed a lawsuit seeking a stay on the application of Section 10 of the new law, which requires individuals to uncover their faces in order to receive basic public services, including healthcare, social assistance, and public transit. The Quebec Superior Court granted the stay in December pending the release of official guidelines for the requesting and granting of exemptions to the law on the basis of religious accommodation. The guidelines were released on Wednesday by the Quebec government.

“These guidelines do not fix a law that is, at its core, discriminatory and unconstitutional. Requiring Muslim women who wear the niqab to make an application for exemption every time they wish to access basic public services such as healthcare and transit places a further undue burden on them. In our view, these guidelines only reinforce the convoluted and flawed nature of Bill 62,” says NCCM Vice Chair Khalid Elgazzar.

“In the current socio-political climate, Bill 62 only leads to even greater xenophobia and prejudice against a minority group of Muslim women who are already stigmatized and stereotyped to no end. These guidelines do nothing to change this reality. There is no justification for the state to discriminate against one religion by targeting a small group of women within it under the guide of state religious neutrality,” says CCLA Executive Director Michael Bryant.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit advocacy organization that is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to protect the rights and freedoms of all people in Canada. Its mission is to promote respect for and observance of fundamental human rights and civil liberties, and to defend, extend, and foster recognition of these rights and freedoms.

CONTACT:  Catherine McKenzie, Legal Counsel, IMK LLP, 514-934-7727


– Pour publication immédiate  –

Le CNMC et l’ACLC affirment d’une même voix que les lignes directrices du projet de loi n° 62 ne peuvent pas sauver une loi inconstitutionnelle

Ottawa, le 11 mai 2018 – Le Conseil national des musulmans canadiens (CNMC) et l’Association canadienne des libertés civiles (ACLC), deux organismes importants de défense des droits et libertés civiles, affirment que les lignes directrices récemment publiées pour accorder des exemptions en vertu du projet de loi 62 du Québec sur l’interdiction du niqab sont intrinsèquement problématiques et ne font rien pour sauver une loi qui est fondamentalement inconstitutionnelle.

En octobre dernier, le CNMC et l’ACLC ont déposé une action en justice visant à suspendre l’application de l’article 10 de la nouvelle loi, lequel exige que les personnes découvrent leur visage afin de recevoir des services publics de base, notamment les soins de santé, l’aide sociale et le transport en commun. La Cour supérieure du Québec a accueilli la demande de suspension en décembre en attendant la publication des lignes directrices officielles visant la demande et l’octroi d’exemptions à la loi sur la base d’accommodements religieux. Ces lignes directrices ont été publiées mercredi par le gouvernement du Québec.

« Ces lignes directrices ne permettent pas de corriger une loi qui est fondamentalement discriminatoire et inconstitutionnelle. Le fait d’obliger des femmes musulmanes qui portent le niqab à faire une demande d’exemption à chaque fois qu’elles souhaitent accéder à des services publics de base tels que les soins de santé et l’utilisation des transports en commun ajoute un fardeau injustifié sur leurs épaules. À notre avis, ces lignes directrices ne font que renforcer le caractère alambiqué et mal conçu du projet de loi n° 62 », affirme Khalid Elgazzar, vice‑président du CNMC.

« Étant donné le climat sociopolitique actuel, le projet de loi n° 62 ne fait qu’exacerber la xénophobie et les préjugés contre un groupe minoritaire de femmes musulmanes qui sont déjà inutilement stigmatisées et stéréotypées. Ces lignes directrices ne font rien pour changer cette réalité. Un État n’a aucune raison de défavoriser une religion en ciblant un petit groupe de femmes au nom de la neutralité religieuse de l’État », ajoute Michael Bryant, directeur exécutif de l’ACLC.

Le Conseil national des musulmans canadiens (CNMC) est un organisme communautaire indépendant neutre à but non lucratif qui est l’un des principaux porte-parole de l’engagement civique des musulmans et de la promotion des droits de la personne.

L’Association canadienne des libertés civiles (ACLC) est un organisme national non-partisan et sans but lucratif qui œuvre en vue de protéger les droits et libertés de toutes les personnes au Canada. Elle a pour mission de promouvoir le respect des droits humains fondamentaux et des libertés civiles. Elle vise en outre à défendre, à accroître et à favoriser la reconnaissance de ces droits et libertés.

PERSONNE‑RESSOURCE:  Catherine McKenzie, conseillère juridique, IMK LLP, 514‑934‑7727





March 29, 2018 (Toronto, ON) – After exchanges this week between York U’s President and CCLA’s Executive Director, the civil liberties’ defender released its preliminary report on York U strike. “It’s time for York U to remove the private security, stop the surveillance, and end intimidating tactics that chill constitutional rights to protest and strike,” said CCLA’s Michael Bryant. “To everyone on campus: you’ve got the power. We’ve got your back. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey, and to President Rhonda Lenton for hearing us out and responding to our charges directly by phone and in writing.”

As the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) has concluded, there is a disturbing global trend wherein public institutions, like a university, suppress democratic rights in the name of public safety or security: “the tendency [is] to transform individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right – the right to protest – into a perceived threat that requires a forceful… response.”  At York U, the unexpected arrival of private security personnel, combined with surveillance tactics (to aggressive affect, according to our survey) escalated tensions, chilled free speech, and suppressed civil liberties. “President Lenton committed this week to de-escalation. So CCLA recommends removing the private security, ditching the cameras, and formally investigating allegations of violence. People have the right to protest and to strike, especially on a university campus,” said Bryant.

Caroline Hill


INCLO Report Release: Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing…

In many countries across the world, governments have stepped up attacks on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), making it harder for them to function effectively. A global pattern has emerged, in which certain governments seek to stigmatise and delegitimise these organisations, particularly by demonising their acceptance of foreign funding or other foreign connections they might have. Moreover, governments often impose debilitating regulations, limiting NGOs activities or simply shutting them down. These measures are often cloaked by the authorities as efforts to curb money laundering, corruption or terrorism.

Such state tactics are not new and include public vilification, hostile legislation, arbitrary enforcement, surveillance, arrest and intimidation. But the speed and scale of this latest spreading wave of repression has been astonishing, fuelled by geopolitical trends and national political shifts that are weakening international human rights protection and support.

NGOs are essential for mobilising private initiative, facilitating citizen engagement and protecting people’s rights. To anticipate and prepare for potential threats, they need to closely observe the signs of a sector-wide assault on civic freedoms.

In recent years, many members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) have had to respond to a sudden increase in threats to civic freedoms. In support of these and other NGOs who have experienced similar treatment from authorities, today, INCLO is releasing the report Gaining Ground: A Framework for Developing Strategies and Tactics in Response to Governmental Attacks on NGOs.

To inspire international solidarity and enhance cross-border exchange between different organizations, Gaining Ground provides resources and analysis designed to support national organizations who wish to formulate strategic tactics to counteract governmental threats and assaults. It identifies five strategic questions, related to specific threats observed around the world, and enumerates possible responses, evaluating their pros and cons while addressing the possible considerations determined by the context in which the organizations operate. Moreover, the publication shares relevant case studies that INCLO collected from NGOs around the world.

While the approaches adopted by other NGOs would need to resonate within the national context, INCLO’s report seeks to provide a framework of strategic proposals that can be used as a starting point to address NGO vulnerabilities.

INCLO is a network of 13 independent, national human rights organizations working to promote fundamental rights and freedoms. The INCLO members are: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Argentina, Dejusticia in Colombia, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in India, the International Human Rights Group Agora (Agora) in Russia,  the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in South Africa, and Liberty in the United Kingdom.

Gaining Ground is currently available here in English.

For more information, contact Andreea Anca at