Release: Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Torture Issue in Security Certificate Case

Posted by admin on Sep 19th, 2008

Montreal, 18 September 2008 – The Supreme Court announced today that it will not consider the question of whether it is legal for Canada to deport someone who is recognized to be at risk of torture. Me. Johanne Doyon, Adil Charkaoui’s lawyer, asked the Supreme Court in April 2007 to consider the constitutionality of the law allowing the Minister of Immigration to balance the alleged risks in national security cases and to deport non-citizens to death and torture.

“I am saddened that the Supreme Court has not taken the opportunity to consider this important question and give the Conservative government a clear directive about the absolute ban on deportation to torture. There is a frightening trend. There are growing numbers of both non-citizens and citizens whom Canada has failed to protect from torture, from Sogi Singh to Maher Arar and more,” said Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal-based teacher and father of three. Charkaoui was first arrested under the much-contested security certificate – a deportation procedure established by Canadian immigration law – in May 2003.

Under its interpretation of the Supreme Court Suresh (2002) decision, the government maintains that it can deport people on security grounds even if they are at risk of torture. The UN Committee against Torture and Human Rights Committee, as well as human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have long criticized Canada for this policy.

On 21 August 2003, an Immigration Canada Pre-removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) officer determined that Charkaoui would be at risk of cruel and unusual punishment, torture or death if forced to return to Morocco. This evaluation was confirmed in October 2007. Canada has nevertheless continued to pursue the deportation proceedings against him.

Accordingly, the Court would have been asked to halt proceedings against Charkaoui on the grounds that: 1) the proceedings threaten him with torture (in violation of the Convention Against Torture); 2) the Minister has repeatedly delayed giving a decision on his application for protection (i.e. against being sent to torture); 3) the government’s interpretation of Suresh is incorrect; and 4) the law allowing the Minister to deport people to torture is unconstitutional.

Charkaoui has been heard twice by the Supreme Court in his prolonged quest for justice and security in Canada. In June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was wrong to systematically destroy evidence, and, specifically, wrong to have destroyed evidence in Charkaoui’s file. In February 2007, the Supreme Court struck down the security certificate process in the landmark Charkaoui (2007) decision.

The Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui believes that the government failed to implement the Charkaoui (2007) decision and that the new security certificate law remains unjust and unconstitutional. Thus in April 2008, Charkaoui filed a constitutional challenge to the new security certificate law; the Federal Court has not yet set a date to hear this challenge. The Quebec Bar Association has applied to intervene in favour of Charkaoui.


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