Thursday, December 29, 2011


(apologies for the belated nature of this report; the issues, however, remain urgent, so see at the bottom what you can do to help)


In the early morning hours of October 26, an Ottawa communiqué was produced by the RCMP’s home-grown Crisis Management Cell (Al Qaeda is not the only disreputable and shady organization that organizes itself with cell structures). The communiqué warned of an impending evolving situation at the Prime Minister’s Office and called on Special Operations as well as Ottawa Police to attend to the scene.

The cause of the crisis, apparently, had to do with “anti-torture” protesters who were set to gather that morning at 9:30 am. While the special bulletin did not explain the whys and wherefores, it would have been obvious to anyone who had been in the city for the previous three days, during which copious amounts of crime scene tape had appeared, accompanied by evidence flags and hooded “detainees,” at a variety of Canadian government agencies and private corporations complicit in torture.

Members of the Crisis Management Cell were also concerned, no doubt, with the banner headline of that morning’s Ottawa Citizen, which revealed that just-released internal RCMP documents indicated that the Mounties knew that the alleged case against Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki was completely unfounded. Yet the Mounties nonetheless made up dangerously inflammatory allegations about him that resulted in 22 months of torture in a Syrian dungeon. No one in the institution has been held to account. (for more on those memos see )

Indeed, October marked three years since the release of a report based on the highly secretive and biased Iacobucci Inquiry, which, despite its major structural faults (the three men at the inquiry’s focus were not allowed to attend the completely secret process), nonetheless found that Canada was complicit in the men’s torture. Despite a subsequent Parliamentary committee’s recommendations, and a vote by the majority of the House of Commons calling for an apology, compensation, and accountability, Prime Minister Harper, as well as the complicit institutions and individuals, have failed to comply with that vote and simply do the right thing.

Hence, public pressure to jump-start a process of accountability to mark that anniversary sprang into action, and for three days, members of Crime Scene Investigation: Ottawa (CSI Ottawa), a fully realized subsidiary of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, had been showing up at dozens of locations, reading aloud damning documents from federal inquiries, court decisions, and independent research that focused both on the cases of three Canadians targeted for torture – Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nereddin – as well as the larger pattern of complicity in torture that has ruined the lives of countless Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and refugees.

And so individuals dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, accompanied by others in CSI jackets and one booming sound system, set out to mark the city’s numerous shameful connections to torture. The first day began during the bitterly cold and damp morning rush hour on Monday, October 24 in the city’s east end where, after the group members parked their vehicles in the massive St. Laurent shopping centre parking lot, they headed out on the torture trail leading to the RCMP.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Canada’s Secret Trial Cases Built on Torture

(this story originally appeared at
By Matthew Behrens

Four years after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously found them unconstitutional, secret hearing “security certificates” are still in use, with a number of Muslim men fighting unseen allegations while under threat of deportation to torture.
Security certificates have long been used by Canada’s scandal-plagued spy agency CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) to tar refugees and permanent residents as national security threats without having to explain their alleged case. Those detained under the process are never charged, and subjected to lower standards than those applying to any citizen facing similar accusations. Indeed, the law governing the procedure allows for the introduction of any piece of information “even if it is inadmissible in a court of law.”
For the past decade, five Muslim men – dubbed the Secret Trial Five – have endured this Kafkaesque process both behind bars and under humiliating house arrest. Last month, the release of two formerly classified documents indicates that the national security secrecy claims that form the bedrock of these cases have in fact served as a cover for illegal and unethical acts by CSIS.
Indeed, the documents reveal the secret trial regime relies almost entirely on information gleaned from torture. A 2008 letter written by Jim Judd, then head of CSIS, bemoans legislative changes then being proposed that, in raising the bar on the admissibility of information possibly extracted under torture, “could render unsustainable the current security certificate proceedings.”
The CSIS memo does not comment on the ethics or legality of using information gleaned from torture; rather, it speaks to whether or not that information can somehow be corroborated. Judd claims that CSIS must maintain relations with countries that have poor human rights records as part of its so-called counter-terrorism efforts, and he shudders that with a proposed amendment on torture, “a Court could require CSIS to certify that all intelligence gathered in support of Certificates was done without resort to torture. This would almost certainly result in the Security Certificates regime falling into disuse as a consequence of its unworkability.”
Judd adds that a Court could render inadmissible “any and all information provided by agencies in countries whose human rights records are in question – of which there are many.” This scenario could arise, the memo continues, because “much” of the information put forward by CSIS in these cases “corroborates, or is corroborated, by [words blacked out, but clearly implying derived from torture], which under this interpretation of the amendment may no longer be admissible.”