Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei, inmates of Canada’s “Guantanamo North” are on hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention at Kingston’s Immigration Holding Centre. After two months without food or medical care, they are extremely weak and suffering from various medical problems.
According to rabble.ca, “Despite last week’s visit by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who did not meet with the detainees, there has been no negotiation with the men, and no effort to end a critical situation that could turn deadly at any time.”
Their crime? No one, least of all the prisoners, knows. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service can initiate a process which leads to the arrest of permanent residents or refugees who have committed no crime, throw them in jail, and detain them indefinitely with the aim of deporting them, even in the face of potential torture and death. Neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see the “information” upon which CSIS makes allegations against them.
Consequently, all have been imprisoned under a “security certificate,” Mahjoub, since 2000 and the others since 2001.
As the revelations surrounding the illegal deportation, imprisonment and torture of Canadian Maher Arar show, the shadowy, undemocratic processes of Canadian and American intelligence agencies violate human rights, rather than protect them. If there was ever a time to demand that the Canadian government respect human rights, it is now, and a good place to begin is to join with the hundreds of organizations and individuals who have demanded an end to the use of “security certificates” by the government of Canada.
How? You can begin by endorsing the following statement by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, title, affiliation and address, saying: “I ENDORSE THE STATEMENT”
Statement Against Secret Trial Security Certificates
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”.
We are particularly concerned that those detained under security certificates are:
- Being imprisoned indefinitely on secret evidence, though no charges have been laid against them;
- Tried in unfair trials where the evidence is not disclosed to the detainee or their lawyer;
- Denied the right to appeal when the certificate is upheld in a process that uses the lowest standard of proof of any court in Canada;
- Subject to deportation even when they face unfair imprisonment, torture or death.
We believe that the Security Certificate process is undemocratic and that it violates fundamental human rights, which the government of Canada has committed itself to through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on Torture. Accordingly, we demand that the Security Certificate process be abolished. For those currently imprisoned under security certificates, we demand:
- That they be released immediately; or, 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.
While you’re at it, write your MP. Better yet, insist on a meeting. The existence of “Guantanamo North” is a national disgrace, and the sooner we put an end to it, the better.