22/02/2010

An Injustice, Pure and Simple


Just before Christmas Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley threw out a security certificate against Syrian born Hassan Almrei who had been arrested eight years earlier on submissions of terrorism. Simply put, Mr. Almrei didn't do anything to justify keeping him locked up. The judge's ruling is just one of several recent decisions which continue to chip away at this controversial legislation.

Harper and his crew like these certificates. I think this fits into their agenda to make Canadians afraid. It is very like their tough on crime strategy.

When parts of the security certificate process were found to violate of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007. The Conservative government responded by introducing introduced a bill to amend the security certificate process by introducing a "special advocate", lawyers who would be able to view the evidence against the accused. However, these lawyers would be selected by the Justice minister, would only have access to a "summary" of the evidence, and would not be allowed to share this information with the accused, for example in order to ask for clarifications or corrections. The amendments are modeled on a much-criticized process already in use in the United Kingdom.

The Conservative bill amending Canada's security certificate regime, with support from the Liberals, was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent in February 2008.

So we continue to have laws being used in this country that do not meet even the most basic test. CSIS has exploited these security certificates to incarcerate people based on shoddy investigative work. And ministers of the crown rubber stamp these certificates based on the work of incompetents. I don't know about you but, it makes my skin crawl.

There are however a few things about Mr. Almrei that get under my skin too.

I guess when you don't have ties to terrorists then spend eight years in jail because our bungling security agency screwed up and thought you did, you come out a bit bitter and with a sense of entitlement.

Notwithstanding that, I can't agree with Almrei's statement that "This is my country. It is my country as much as it is yours."

I'm sorry Mr Almrei it isn't. You are not a Canadian citizen. You abused our system by coming into our country using forged documents then used them to apply for refugee status. Not to mention that other aspects of your conduct before your arrest was hardly exemplary either.

But eight years out of anyone's life is a long time.

Does the fact that CSIS and some federal cabinet ministers breached their duties of "good faith and condor" as the judge suggests they did entitle you to stay here? Maybe it does. Does the fact that you spent eight years in jail on a security certificate without even being charged entitle you to an apology, compensation and the right to stay here in Canada? I'd have to say, "I think so"

So come on CSIS, it is time to go public, cap in hand and apologize. It is also time for the government to compensate Mr. Almrei for losing eight years of his life. And it is time for this government to scrap these ill conceived security certificates which go against every reasonable rule of law in what we like to think is a democratic country.

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