Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

The secret trial of Mohamed Harkat remains an affront to all who cherish democracy and justice. Convicted and condemned to deportation on the basis of secret evidence that he was not allowed to see, Mr. Harkat faces deportation to his native Algeria where he would face imprisonment and torture, if not death.

Mohamed Harkat is continuing his struggle for a fair hearing. Visit his site and read his story. Sign the petition that calls for an end to the police state tactics that allow people to be detained indefinitely and deported without being tried in a fair, public and impartial trial.

And circulate this new video to everyone you know. At a time when people around the world are standing up to demand basic democratic freedoms, it is time Canadians regained some of ours.

See also:

Save Saeed Malekpour

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Human Rights
Tags: ,

Saeed Malekpour is an Iranian-Canadian awaiting execution in Iran’s infamous Evin prison. He’s been held there since 2008 when he was arrested on charges related to developing and promoting a porn site, an allegation he rejects. Since then he’s been held in solitary confinement, tortured and denied the most basic human rights.

Saeed’s plight was news to me until a couple of days ago, and perhaps it is unfamiliar to you as well. Two excellent web sites where you can learn more about Saeed, the danger he faces and what you can do are:

There is no time to lose. Iran is notorious for its willingness to execute prisoners on the flimsiest of pretexts. He could be killed at any moment. Nonetheless, international opinion does save lives. So, please do not delay. Join the campaign to save Saeed Malekpour’s life. Today. Now.

Feb. 12, 2011: Winnipeggers rally at the Manitoba Legislature in support of Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian-Canadian facing execution in Iran. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Mohamed Harkat and wife Sophie at a press conference in Ottawa, Dec. 10, 2010. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick

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.

Rather that acknowledge that growing numbers of Mexican refugee claimants might be fleeing to Canada for legitimate reasons, Stephen Harper has announced that the Mounties will train Mexican federal police to strengthen their efforts in the “war on drugs.” According to the Winnipeg Free Press: “The Mounties will offer tips on interviewing techniques for entry-level police; mid-level officers will learn about money-laundering, undercover tactics, and child exploitation; and senior officers will hear about crisis management, public relations and dealing with civilian leaders.”

It’s a cheap announcement: only 400,000 loonies have been allocated for this program, but it’s a useful one for Harper because it helps perpetuate the myth that Mexico is just like Canada — poorer, perhaps, but fundamentally democratic — and in no way a legitimate source of refugees.

However, it is no coincidence that refugee claims have grown at a time of escalating drug war violence and a marked increase in human rights violations by Mexican police and military forces.

According to the CBC, “Mexico is now the No. 1 source of refugee claims, with the number almost tripling to more than 9,400 since 2005 . . . The figure represents one-quarter of all claims made. About 90 per cent of the claims are rejected.”

In February 2009, Amnesty International reported that:

  • Mexico has so far failed to explicitly recognize the status of international human rights treaties in its Constitution.
  • The authorities have yet to hold anyone to account for the 100 killings and 700 enforced disappearances that took place between the 1960s and 1980s.
  • Mexican federal, state and municipal police officers implicated in serious human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention, torture, rape and unlawful killings, particularly those committed during civil disturbances in San Salvador Atenco and Oaxaca City in 2006, have not been brought to justice.
  • The military justice system continues to try cases of human rights violations despite international human rights standards insisting these should be tried in civilian courts.
  • The number of reports of abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, sexual violence and unlawful killings by security officials has increased during security operations to combat violent criminal gangs.
  • Human rights defenders, particular those in rural areas, often face persecution and sometimes prolonged detention on the basis of fabricated or politically-motivated criminal charges.
  • Indigenous and other marginalized communities sometimes face harassment for opposing development projects affecting their livelihoods.
  • Irregular migrants in transit in Mexico routinely face ill-treatment by state officials as well as sexual and other violence at the hands of criminal gangs.
  • Despite advances in legislation to protect women from violence, implementation is weak. Reporting, prosecution and conviction rates for those responsible for domestic violence, rape and even killings of women remain extremely low. Two years after the adoption of the 2007 General Law to prevent violence against women, two states have not even introduced legislation to enforce it.
  • Poverty and marginalization continue to deprive many rural communities, particularly indigenous peoples, of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to development, in accordance with their own needs and interests.

You can get the entire report here.

It sounds to me like there are plenty of good reasons why someone might claim to be a Mexican refugee.

Meanwhile, education is a 2-way street. I wonder what the Federales will teach our taser-wielding Mounties.

Armed men surround the mainly Mixtec community of Santo Domingo Ixcatlan, Oaxaca on December 3, 2008. The attackers were working for a local political boss who stood to profit from the sale of communal lands. For months, the group threatened those who opposed the sale and killed three of them in April 2008. Photo credit: Private/Amnesty International. Read more.

Speaking at the University of Southern California in April 2009, Mexican senator and human rights activist Rosario Ibarra presents a lecture on forced disappearances (the state’s covert persecution, apprehension and execution of individuals for political reasons) in Mexico, and on her work to promote human rights and freedom.

Stephen the First, and hopefully the Last

The Star Chamber was an English court of law at the royal Palace of Westminster that sat between 1487 and 1641, when the court itself was abolished. Initially set up as a court of appeal, it evolved into an instrument of repression. Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. In that sense, it bears an amazing resemblance to Stephen Harper’s no-fly list.

Today the CBC reported that two boys named Alistair Butt were stopped while trying to board flights last week because their names matched Harper’s list. According to the Canadian Press, Transport Canada won’t confirm if the boys are on a U.S. no-fly list, an airline no-fly list or Canada’s new no-fly list, which went into effect on June 18.

The boys, aged 10 and 15, were eventually allowed to fly, but you have to wonder at the stupidity of it all. Our government, in the interests of protecting us from terrorism is detaining children at airports while it continues to ignore what the Senate has called “gaping holes” in airport baggage handling security.

And apparently they are letting an allegedly dangerous guy named Alistair Butt roam the country at will — except for flying, anyway. If this man is such a threat to our security, why hasn’t he been arrested and tried? And if he is not actually in the business of blowing up planes or whatever it is the authorities think he wants to do, why can’t he get on a plane unmolested?

These, of course, are rhetorical questions. Rather than perpetrators, the Alistair Butts of this world are the latest victims of the so-called “war against terrorism.”

What is not in question is that this latest version of the Star Chamber has gotta go. It is a dangerous infringement of our civil liberties. It protects no one and inconveniences innocent people. It’s only purposes are to instill fear (which nicely dovetails with its criminal “war against terrorism” in Afghanistan), and appease the Bush leaguers to the south.

Transport Canada hopes to launch a no-fly list, officially known as Passenger Protect, as early as this spring. The stated objective is to guard against terrorist threats. A senior Transport Canada official told a Parliamentary Committee yesterday that individuals will not be told why they are on the list — only that they are on it. And, of course, they won’t be permitted to board the plane. Appeals will be permitted, but without knowing why one is on the list, it would be difficult to know how one could appeal. (The list will be compiled by the same spooks from CSIS and the RCMP who fingered Maher Arar. Hmmmm.)

Meanwhile, Health Canada has consolidated regulations regarding asbestos use; permitted uses include children’s toys and drywall joint cement. In case you missed it, asbestos is a highly toxic mineral; exposure can cause asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma. It has been linked to autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Is there a pattern here? Is this a case of government “protecting” us against low risk threats (terrorist evildoers) while facilitating high risk threats (lung cancer, etc.) perpetrated by corporate evil doers.

According to Mining Watch,

“There has been a worldwide movement to ban both the mining and the use of white asbestos. France banned the use of white asbestos completely in 1997. The UK banned any new use of white asbestos in 1999. Further, by 2005 all EU nations must implement a prohibition on white asbestos. However, despite piles of reports showing the dangers of white asbestos, Canada continues to mine it and export it worldwide.”

Canada’s New Government provides $250,000 annually to the Chrysotile Institute (the mouthpiece for Canada’s asbestos industry), uses Canadian embassies to host asbestos promotion events and sends teams of lawyers around the world to oppose international efforts that might restrict the use of asbestos. (So did Canada’s Old Government!!)

Maybe it is time to rename Health Canada. Disease Canada? Death Canada? Any suggestions would be welcome. Alternatively, we could put Canada’s New Government on a no-fly list.