Friday, December 07, 2007

Sudburians Demand MP Vote Against Secret Trials

As part of the December 7th national day of coordinated actions against secret trials focused on Members of Parliament, a small delegation from Sudbury Against War and Occupation paid a visit this morning to the constituency office of Diane Marleau, MP. Marleau, a member of the Liberal Party, voted in favour of Bill C-3 at second reading, and as residents of her riding we wished to deliver a strong message that support for this unjust and racist legislation was not something we were prepared to accept. She herself was unavailable to meet, but we spoke to a senior staff member in the office and presented our statement and a fact sheet (both included below, as sent to the media last night) on secret trials.

Later in the day Marleau left a voice mail for one of the SAWO members who had visited her office. She claimed not to like "these secret things because they are unfair" and explained the Liberal support at second reading as a tactic to buy time and get it to committee. She said, "I don't know what is going to end up happening with this bill." She did not, however, commit to voting against it at third reading or to speaking up in caucus against it.

Though the delegation was a short and low-key affair, we are happy to have done it as it is likely, given the demographic of the riding and lack of history of local organizing on this issue, that Marleau had not expected any of her constituents to be aware of Bill C-3. By visiting her, we let her know that we are concerned and we are watching. We are encouraging all people in the Sudbury riding who are opposed to secret trials to phone her office and encourage her to vote to abolish them.

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Media Advisory -- For Immediate Release

Dec. 6, 2007

SUDBURY AGAINST WAR AND OCCUPATION/Sudbury contre la guerre et
l’occupation

Sudbury to Participate in Dec. 7th Cross-country Day of Lobbying
Against the New National Security Certificate Legislation

Anti-war activists in Sudbury will join in a cross-country day of community delegations to Members of Parliament in their home ridings tomorrow. The day of action is co-ordinated by the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada. Members of Sudbury Against War and Occupation (SAWO) will be delivering the attached letter to MP Diane Marleau, who voted for the latest version of the national security certiificate legislation at 2nd reading, and will be visiting her office to speak to her staff about this urgent matter. SAWO is calling on Marleau to withdraw her suport for this legislation and to speak out against it.

Also find attached a Secret Trials Fact Sheet which provides background information on this legislation and details why this legislation is a denial of basic human rights and is being used in racist fashion.

For further information call XXX-XXXX.

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SUDBURY AGAINST WAR AND OCCUPATION/Sudbury contre la guerre et l’occupation

Diane Marleau, MP
30, Elgin St
Sudbury, Ontario
P3C 5B4

December 7, 2007

Madam Marleau,

Sudbury Against War and Occupation/Sudbury contre la guerre et l’occupation is a group of Sudbury residents that are opposed to war and occupation and all consequences related to them.

We see secret trials in Canada as a domestic consequence of our involvement in war and occupation. The legislation creating the secret trials process has been used by the government to target primarily Muslim men of colour for imprisonment based on secret evidence and without due process. A number of these men face deportation, despite the government admitting that this would put them at risk of torture. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled this law unconstitutional. Sudburians, along with many thousands of individuals, community organizations and networks throughout Canada believe that the entire secret trial process must be abolished. Instead, the government has proposed a new law, Bill C-3 that tinkers with the process by the addition of such things as “special advocates.” This small change would still prevent targeted individuals from knowing the charges and evidence against them and from mounting a meaningful defense, and it leaves in place a system of justice that is two-tiered and discriminatory - in which some people in Canada are denied the right to a fair trial, even though their liberty and very lives may be at stake.


If the government has evidence of wrongdoing by those held on security certificates, the individuals should be charged, allowed access to the case against them, and given a fair and open trial in court. As human beings, justice and even international and Canadian law requires that their fundamental rights to life, liberty and security be treated with every bit as much respect as the rights of those who happen to have Canadian citizenship.

Only two Liberals stood up to oppose the new bill at second reading, while other Liberals (even those who have previously expressed rejection of secret trials) were missing in action. You, Madam Marleau, voted for it. This is quite troubling to many people who have been campaigning against the secret trial process in Canada, including many of us here in Sudbury. As the representative from our riding it is imperative that you take a stand against the passage of this new law that allows for indefinite detention without charge, secret hearings without the detainee or their lawyer of choice present, draconian house arrest, and deportation to torture. It is imperative that the Liberals take a principled stand against secret trials under any circumstances and block passage of Bill C-3.

End Secret Trials in Canada!

Sudbury Against War and Occupation/Sudbury contre la guerre et l’occupation

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Secret Trials Fact Sheet
prepared by Sudbury Against War and Occupation/Sudbury contre la guerre et l’occupation, Dec. 7/07

What are “national security certificates”?

A security certificate is part of immigration law which allows the government to detain and deport people without due process, supposedly on the grounds of “national security.” The certificate is signed by two cabinet ministers on the basis of information presented in secret by Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). While the named person waits in jail, the certificate is reviewed by a Federal Court judge. Precise allegations and the evidence to support it are kept secret throughout the process, even from the detainee and their lawyer. Key terms in the legislation like “national security” and “membership” are not defined. If, through this process, the judge decides that the government had “reasonable grounds to believe” that it should issue the certificate, the certificate becomes a deportation order and there is no appeal. In practice, the measure has allowed the government to keep people in prison or under house arrest for years without charge, and to threaten them with deportation even if they are at risk of being tortured. In brief, this is a process that draws on racism and fear to treat certain people as outside the norms of justice.


Who is being subjected to this process today?

There are currently five men who are being targeted by security certificates. All are Muslim men of colour. One, Hassan Almrei, is in prison in Kingston, while most of the rest have been transferred from prison to a humiliating form of house arrest with the toughest bail and surveillance conditions in Canadian history. One, Adil Charkaoui, was first arrested under a security certificate in 2003 and his certificate has yet to undergo any judicial review whatsoever. None of these men have been charged with a crime, none of them have had an opportunity to clear their names, and all are being threatened with deportation, with a risk of torture or death for some.


What is wrong with this process?

  • Despite the fact that almost all rights under our constitution - including rights to due process - apply to all people in Canada and not just citizens, this law guts due process specifically for non-citizens.

  • In practice, this legislation has been used in recent years exclusively against Muslim men of colour, as part of larger campaigns of harassment and profiling against their communities.

  • The targeted individuals and their lawyers of choice never get to see the evidence against them.

  • The supposed evidence presented by CSIS can include information gathered by foreign intelligence services through coercion and torture.

  • The standard of evidence for this process, despite the harsh consequences for those who are subjected to it, is extremely low - far lower than in criminal trials.

  • There is no appeal.

  • The endpoint of this process is deportation, and the government has shown a willingness to proceed even when their own assessment process shows that the targeted individuals will be at risk of torture and death.



What about the 'special advocate' provision in the new legislation?

One change introduced in Bill C-3 is the creation of 'special advocates.' Under this provision, the government gets to screen and select lawyers that it will allow to see the secret evidence in national security certificate cases.


What's wrong with that?

The targeted individual must accept a lawyer approved by the government that is targeting them. The targeted individual still never gets to see or hear about the evidence themselves. The mandate for the government-screened lawyer to maintain secrecy essentially forbids them from engaging in most of the sorts of routine information gathering activities that might allow false accusations to be refuted. The British system upon which it is modelled has been criticized by lawyers who have been a part of it and, more recently, by the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the U.K. House of Commons and House of Lords.

What should we do instead?

  • Abolish the security certificate legislation instead of trying to reform it.

  • Release the five men who have been currently targeted, or provide them with fair and open trials.

  • End deportation proceedings against the five currently targeted men.

  • End all deportations that might result in torture.

  • End all harassment and profiling of communities of colour and Muslim communities in Canada.

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