Call to endorse petition statement against
secret trial security certificates

HALIFAX (4 December 2004) -- The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, in conjunction with the Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui and Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee is calling on Canadians to endorse the petition statement posted below by 7 December 2004. The endorsed petition will be publicly presented on December 10, International Human Rights Day.

"security certificate" violates all the principles of fundamental justice and norms of an enlightened and civilized society. It contravenes the principles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Refugees, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other conventions and agreements to which Canada is a signatory.
Under a security certificate, a person can be detained indefinitely without bail, without being accused of a crime and without being presented with evidence. Meanwhile, secret trials are held in which the state presents evidence to a judge without the accused or his/her lawyer present. The use of security certificates and secret trials has been widely denounced as medieval for undermining due process. A fundamental premise of rule of law requires that a person be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law on charges that can be objectively verified.

Two years ago on International Human Rights Day, Algerian refugee Mohamed Harkat was arrested in Ottawa on a security certificate. He has been in jail without charge or bail on secret "evidence" neither he nor his lawyer has been allowed to see. He is one of five Muslim men held under Canada's secret trial process: Mohammad Mahjoub (held since June 2000), Mahmoud Jaballah (August 2001), Hassan Almrei (solitary confinement since October 2001) and Adil Charkaoui (May 2003). If convicted, they will be severed from their lives and families in Canada and deported to places where they could face torture and even death.

Neither the detainee nor their lawyer are permitted to know the exact allegations. Nor are they allowed to see or know the exact "evidence" - only a summary, which is a subjective rendering of the "facts". The detainee's lawyer does not have access to all the evidence being used against their client.
Last fall, 31 October 2003, together with Dr Ismail Zayid of the Canada Palestine Association, I spoke on behalf of this magazine and the People's Front (Halifax) against the security trail certificates at a mass information picket at the regional headquaters of the Canadian Security Inteligence Service (CSIS) at Maritime Mall in Halifax -- part of the National Day of Action Against Secret Trails. I also gave different examples from the experience of the Muslim community, the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations and the worker's and fishermen's movement in the Maritimes to show that the targeting of these five Muslim men is the thin edge of an attack on the democratic rights of the entire canadian people.

I call on organizations and individuals to sign the petition. If signing as an individual, include your geographic location and position. Send endorsements to:

Tony Seed,
Editor/ Publisher
Shunpiking Magazine
Halifax, NS

Statement Against Secret Trial Security Certificates

We, the undersigned, have grave concerns regarding the continued use of sections 9, 76-87 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which allow for the imprisonment in Canada of refugees and permanent residents under the authority of a "Security Certificate":

We are particularly concerned that those detained under security certificates are:

- Being imprisoned indefinitely on secret evidence, though no charges have been laid against them;

- Tried in unfair trials where the evidence is not disclosed to the detainee or their lawyer;

- Denied the right to appeal when the certificate is upheld in a process that uses the lowest standard of proof of any court in Canada;

- Subject to deportation even when they face unfair imprisonment, torture or death.

We believe that the Security Certificate process is undemocratic and that it violates fundamental human rights, which the government of Canada has committed itself to through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention on Torture.

Accordingly, we demand that the Security Certificate process be abolished.

For those currently imprisoned under security certificates, we demand:

- That they be released immediately; or, if any case against them actually exists, that they be allowed to defend themselves in open, fair and independent trials with full disclosure of the case against them.

- That they not be deported.

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Copyright New Media Services Inc. 2004. The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of shunpiking magazine or New Media Publications.