I don’t know whether Mohamed Harkat is a terrorist or not. Neither do you. How could we? Harkat was convicted in a secret trial, based on secret “evidence” provided by shadowy sources who will remain unknown to Mr. Harkat and the rest of us unless we overturn the unjust, draconian laws that made this travesty of justice possible.
Yesterday Federal Court Justice Simon Noel upheld the security certificate issued against Mohamed Harkat in 2002, opining that ” . . . although the danger associated to Mr. Harkat has diminished over time, he still poses a danger to Canada, but at a lesser level . . .” This decision makes it possible for Immigration Canada to deport Mr. Harkat to his native Algeria where he would face imprisonment and torture, if not death.
A security certificate according to Public Safety Canada is a document issued by the immigration minister to force the “removal from Canada of non-Canadians who have no legal right to be here and who pose a serious threat to Canada and Canadians.”
Under the legislation governing security certificates (Bill C-3), courts are permitted to consider secret information in closed sessions. The defendant is not permitted to see this information or to question it. “Special advocates,” appointed by the minister who issued the certificate, are allowed to see the secret information, but they are not allowed to disclose it to the defendant or his lawyer. (See this in-depth analysis of security certificates.)
This process is such an egregious violation of the principle of natural justice it boggles the mind that we allow it to exist. Under Canadian law, citizens are allowed to face their accusers in open court, to have ALL of the evidence laid out before them, to cross-examine witnesses, and defend themselves. They are considered innocent until they are proven guilty in a fair and transparent process. The security certificate process violates all of these principles and should outrage any Canadian who believes in human rights.
This process should also make citizens fear for their own safety. We are next, as the Combating Terrorism Act, which passed second reading this fall, makes clear. This act, which applies to ALL OF US, provides for warrantless arrests, compulsory testimony and 12-month preventive imprisonment of people suspected of planning terrorist acts. It is the perfect companion to the practice of allowing courts to rely on “evidence” provided by anonymous spooks hiding beneath the cloak of “national security.”
Mohamed Harkat is continuing his eight year struggle for a fair hearing. Visit his site and read his story. It is one that should concern all Canadians.