Tuesday, February 01, 2005

NDP Passes Resolution Against Secret Trials

I have mentioned before on this site how the Canadian state has decided it deserves the power to hold people indefinitely without charges or adequate due process. For more information, visit this site. As it says there:

Five Muslim men have been held, as of January 2005, a collective total of 179 months in Canadian prisons, much of it in solitary confinement, without charge, without bail, on secret "evidence" which neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see. They are men with wives and children they cannot touch or hug. None has ever been convicted of any criminal offence in Canada. Welcome to Canada's own Guantanamo Bay.

The NDP is English Canada's social democratic or labour party. Like social democracy as a whole, the NDP is flawed and limited and deserves all kinds of criticism. At the same time, they have managed to accomplish some important things over the years, and my stay in the U.S. has made me appreciate even more the value of having such a party. At its federal council meeting this past weekend, thanks in part to tireless activism by former party leader and MP Alexa McDonough, it passed the following resolution:

NDP Resolution on Security Certificates

WHEREAS the federal government has not laid a single charge against any detainee currently held in Canada under Security Certificates, for periods of up to four years; and

WHEREAS Security Certificates apply only to Permanent Residents and Refugees; and

WHEREAS denying non-citizens access to the judicial process violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Canada's international obligations and goes against the fundamental notion that human rights are inalienable and do not depend on legal status; and

WHEREAS issuance of a Security Certificate by the Minister of Public Safety restricts the scope of a court's examination of the case to deciding on the possible viability of allegations - not necessarily evidence - on which the Minister has signed the security certificate; and

WHEREAS neither the detainee nor their lawyer are informed of the precise allegations or given access to government information against the accused; and

WHEREAS this process forces judges to base their decisions on one-sided arguments; and

WHEREAS Security Certificates violate a basic tenet of the rule of law by denying detainees the right of appeal; and

WHEREAS Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture; and

WHEREAS detainees face deportation to their countries of origin, even if there is a substantial risk of torture or death; and

WHEREAS the UN Committee against Torture felt bound to remind Canada in 2000 that it is a violation of the UN Convention against Torture to deport someone facing a substantial risk of torture, even if there may be some security concerns; and

WHEREAS Security Certificates have been described by Amnesty International as "fundamentally flawed and unfair"; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP calls on the federal government to:

1. Either lay charges and allow the accused to undergo a fair and transparent judicial trial or immediately release all individuals being held under Security Certificates;

2. Refuse to deport any detainees to a country where there is a substantial risk of torture and possibly death, in compliance with the UN Convention against torture;

3. Immediately halt the use of Security Certificates and re-write the security provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to make them consistent with our Constitution and Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention against Torture;

4. Provide leadership in ending the attacks on civil liberties and racial profiling and targeting of Arab and Muslim individuals and communities and other ethnic and religious minorities occurring within federal jurisdiction, in partnership with other levels of government and civil society.; and

5. Develop a plan of action and provide adequate resources to defeat racial profiling and religious bigotry.

1 comment:

Rick Barnes said...

Now to get the Canadian Governmnet to bring an end to this practice. Reminds me of the Quebec government of the 40's and 50's.

Thank someone for the NDP!


Rick in the Okanagan's Bible belt (yikes)