CCLA Reaffirms its Position on “Torture Information”

August 8, 2012

There have been recent media stories about CSIS considering use of information either procured from torture, or transferring information to a country where it could be used to torture a detainee.

CCLA’s position is clear:  Canada cannot be complicit in torture.   Torture is illegal in Canadian law and in international law:

1)    This means that no evidence procured through torture can ever be used as evidence in a Canadian courtroom, or to deprive a person of his or her liberty.

2)    Canada cannot pass on information to a foreign country, knowing that it may result in the torture of a detainee. Four Canadian-Arab men – Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, and Muayyed Nurredin – were detained and tortured abroad due to direct or indirect faulty sharing of information by Canadian officials with foreign agencies.  Two Federal Commissions of Inquiry have made detailed and specific recommendations (O’Connor Commission) and specific comments (Iacobucci Commission): CCLA believes the information-sharing recommendations and comments of the O’Connor and Iacobucci Commissions must be followed to ensure that Canada is not complicit in the torture of detainees held abroad.

3)    Finally, the Minister of Public Safety has repeated that Canada will not ‘dither’, and that information procured from torture may be relied upon to “prevent a mass terror event”.  CCLA believes that Canada must not encourage foreign countries to torture.   Canadian police always act upon tips of mass threat – for example an anonymous phone call of a bomb threat will result in police first evacuating the public space, searching for a bomb, and — if a bomb exists — deactivating and disposing of the bomb in a safe manner.  CCLA believes that the comments of the Minister of Public Safety – which conflate the need to act to prevent a mass terror attack, with a supposed need for torture information —  is a harmful syllogism that undermines respect for the law and undermines respect for human life and human dignity – which respect is at the heart of the absolute legal prohibition against torture.