Saturday, January 05, 2008

Canada and torture

According to Ottawa, turning a blind eye to the torture of Canadian citizens abroad is just the price of doing business with the international intelligence community in the 'war on terror'.

CBC : "Human rights abuses are not necessarily enough to keep Canada from sharing information with security agencies overseas, Ottawa tells a federal inquiry on torture in a newly released submission.
Canada must maintain relationships with "non-traditional" allies, some of whom do not always treat people appropriately, in order to fight terrorism, says a government brief made public Thursday."

This astonishing submission was made last week to Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci's federal inquiry into the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, Canadians who allege they were tortured in Syria after Canada submitted a list of questions to Syrian authorites to be asked of them.

This is precisely what happened to Maher Arar. Syria, you will recall, had no interest in Arar but obligingly tortured him for nearly a year as "a goodwill gesture towards the US" after the RCMP labelled him as a terrorist. Indeed Syria attempted to return Arar but Canada was not at all keen to have him back, citing "embarrasment" as one unofficial reason.

Right now Canada is a country which, despite being a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, is complicit in having its citizens tortured abroad as the price of admission to the war on terrorism club.
How many Maher Arars are we willing to hand over so that Syria will trust us? How many Benamar Benattas will it take to keep the US appeased?
The inquiry continues.


Anonymous said...

Shorter Canadian government: The terrorists won. We're so terrified we're throwing our principles out the window.

Anonymous said...

I really want to take Naomi Wolf's 10 steps to fascism and note where Canada is already at work.

Thanks for this, Alison

RossK said...


Maybe, at least in the beginning.

But now, I think that maybe Michael Byers is right - we have become a vassal state.

(details at my place for those interested)


West End Bob said...

Glad to see you back with the living, Alison, and a great post, too!

The portion of the CBC piece I especially liked was:

Amnesty (International) is among several inquiry participants, including the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the Canadian Arab Federation, urging tight restrictions on information sharing with foreign states that use torture or flout the rule of law.

That includes the United States
, says Amnesty's submission. Canada's interactions with its southern neighbour "should be premised on the recognition that the U.S., through its use of rendition, secret detention and detention centres such as Guantanamo Bay, has been widely criticized for serious human rights violations associated with the 'war on terror."'

They got that right, didn't they ? ? ? ?

Anonymous said...

Federal court strikes down refugee agreement
"The United States is not a safe country for refugees, the Federal Court said Thursday as it ruled that Canada will no longer have the right to turn back asylum seekers at the border.
In the surprise judgment, the court found that Safe Third Country Agreement breaches the rights of asylum seekers under the United Nation Refugee Convention or the Convention Against Torture.
The three-year-old agreement denies refugees who have landed first in the U.S. the right to later seek protection in Canada, and vice versa. It has allowed Canada to automatically send refugee claimants at the border back to the United States. There, they are usually either detained or deported."
- Creekside Nov 2007.

Perhaps together the Federal Court and the Iacobucci federal inquiry can trump the Cons on this. Hoping.

Anonymous said...

Good call here, Alison, I think you have it dead to rights - the war on terra is just one of many excuses the Harperites use to suck up to the US.
Why wasn't this more widely reported?

Q said...

Good questions which have no right answers, other than we're wrong to support torture, period.

Philosophically, torture is a logical extension of right wing 'wrong' thinking, such as capital punishment and more prisons will stop crime, so being as cruel as the enemy will obviously defeat him.

In Harper's case, he's also just a fucking sycophant.

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