By condoning the use of information obtained through torture, the editorial board of the Winnipeg Free Press is digging its own grave.
In “Tortured Information” an editorial writer for the Winnipeg Free Press declares: “. . . as long as one does not promote or condone torture, it would be grossly irresponsible for any security service, any government, including Canada’s, to refuse to use it to defend the safety of its citizens.”
Unfortunately, Canada is not the merely the innocent recipient of torture-tainted information. Inquiries into the detention and torture of Canadians Maher Arar and Ahmad El Maati have shown that CSIS participated in their interrogations and provided the “intelligence” that led to their detention.
Abousfian Abdelrazik was imprisoned in Sudan in 2003 on the recommendation of CSIS and tortured. He interrogated on at least one occasion by people he identified as Canadian. Despite being declared innocent of any crime by the Sudanese government, our government refuses to let him return to Canada.
The issue is not merely that of refusing to use information obtained from torture to defend Canadian citizens. It involves refusing to participate in the torture of Canadian citizens.
Canada must not only denounce torture, it must refuse to participate in it in any way. This includes directing CSIS to respect human rights and dismissing any Canadian officials who refuse to follow this direction.
Whether the Winnipeg Free Press knows it or not, its editorial board has come out on the side of torture. Whether wilfully or through incompetence, the editorialist has told only a small part of the story — enough to obfuscate the reality of Canada’s role in undermining human rights in the world, enough to hide the fact that Canadian institutions are complicit in the detention and torture of Canadian citizens.
What will it take for the Freep, as it is known colloquially in these parts, to understand that it must defend human rights? In siding with the torturers, the Freep is digging its own grave, because if our government is allowed to continue on its present course, we have to wonder how long freedom of the press will be allowed to continue.