In place since 1978, it lets authorities detain and/or deport foreign nationals and other non-citizens suspected of human rights violations, alleged threats to national security, or claimed affiliation with organized crime, using (usually bogus) secret evidence withheld from defense counsel.
Since 1991, 27 residents have been affected. In February 2007, Canada's Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Charkaoui v. Canada. However, eight months later in October, the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill C-3 (a so-called anti-terror measure), amending the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by introducing a special advocate into the certificate process on the pretext of protecting subjects during secret proceedings.
That and other provisions are troubling, including indefinite detentions, with or without charges, draconian house arrest with continuous monitoring and surveillance, and deportations to despotic states unjustly. Doing so assures torture, imprisonment or death. It's why subjects fled to Canada, believing they'd be safe.
The special advocate provision is reprehensible, providing legal cover for a fundamentally unjust process designed to stigmatize, vilify, convict, imprison, or deport mostly innocent victims to oblivion, pretending national and public security were protected.
As a result, human and civil rights advocates, anti-war activists, opponents of extremist government policies, and targets of convenience for political advantage (especially Muslims) are unjustly charged, arrested, and persecuted. Their constitutional right of assured innocence unless proved guilty in a fair and open process beyond a reasonable doubt is denied, subjecting them to police state injustice, common in third world dictatorships.
Once Security Certificates are issued, Federal Courts conduct secret proceedings, delivering summary draconian injustice. The entire process is engineered to convict, much like corrupted US courts against anyone charged with terrorism, conspiracy to commit it, accused environmental and animal rights activists called "ecoterrorists," vocal critics of US injustice, and advocates for human and civil rights.
Canadian and other justice defenders demand Security Certificates be abolished. Click here to endorse its revocation. The petition states:
"We, the undersigned, have grave concerns regarding the continued use of sections 9, 76-87 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which allow for the imprisonment in Canada of refugees and permanent residents under the authority of a "Security Certificate."
The new version of this measure - which included only cosmetic changes in the form of a very limited appeal provision and of the introduction of "special advocates" - still maintains a veil of secrecy over any information that may be used against the detained.
Therefore, we are concerned that those detained under Security Certificates are:
- Imprisoned indefinitely on secret evidence, though no charges have been laid against them;
- Tried in unfair judicial proceedings where information is not disclosed to....detainee(s) or their lawyer;
- Denied the full right to appeal when the Certificate is upheld in a process that uses the lowest standard of proof of any court in Canada;
- Under threat of deportation even when they face unfair imprisonment, torture or death.
We believe that the existing Security Certificate process is undemocratic; violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada's constitutional bill of rights); and violates fundamental human rights, to which the government of Canada has committed itself through the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICEPR) and the UN Convention on Torture.
Accordingly, we demand that the Security Certificate process be abolished.
For those currently detained under Security Certificates, we demand:
- That their certificates be removed, and, if any case against them actually exists, that they be allowed to defend themselves in open, fair, and independent trials with full disclosure of the case against them.
- That they not be deported."
Real democracies assure fundamental human rights, civil liberties, due process, judicial fairness, and equitable treatment for everyone at all times with no allowed exceptions. Anything less is police state justice. Guilt by accusation is unacceptable. It's how Canadian and American courts operate in violation of fundamental legal standards. This injustice must end. Sign the above statement and demand it.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 23, 2010.