Minister of Public Safety and Secret Trials refuses to meet with families of secret trial detainees

Mclellan slams the door on five families seven months after prime minister's office refused a similar request to meet

Toronto Families Will Demonstrate Saturday, April 3 at Metro West Detention Centre to Demand Bail, not Jail

OTTAWA (1 April, 2004) - ANNE MCLELLAN, Minister of Public Safety, refused today to meet families of five Muslim men who are detained without charge, on the basis of secret evidence, in Canadian prisons. The families had come from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in the hope of meeting with her. Instead they were told that no one from the Minister's office would be available to meet with them.

About fifty people gathered in front of Parliament to support the families and demand that the rights of the five men be respected. They were accompanied, among others, by Kim Koyama of Project Threadbare, a group working in solidarity with 21 Pakistani men who were arrested last year in Toronto on grounds of national security. The allegations were later revealed to be baseless, and many have been deported despite fears for their safety. Koyama's own parents were interned in Canada during the Second World War because they were Japanese.

Also present at the rally was Monia Mazigh, the wife of Maher Arar, who was deported to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured. Deborah Bourque, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Roch Tassť, Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, as well as Murray Thomson, who has received the Order of Canada for his work for peace and justice. All were united to demonstrate their opposition to secret trials in Canada.

The families of the detained men - Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei, Mohamed Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui - who have been preventively imprisoned for a collective 134 months, were deeply disappointed that the Minister refused to meet with them. They wondered whether the questions they wanted to ask the Minister were deemed to pose a risk to national security. Added to the injustice of the secret trials, which is a matter of life and death for the detainees, is the silence of the Minister who is supposed to represent the people. "National security" is being used to silence people, even on questions of fundamental liberties and freedoms - the very values which are supposed to differentiate our democracies from dictatorial regimes.

Under a security certificate, a measure of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, an individual can be arrested and detained indefinitely without charge, and subject to a process where secret evidence, to which neither the accused nor his lawyer have access, is used. The decision of the Federal Court is without appeal and based not on facts, but whether there are reasonable grounds to assume such facts. The detained face deportation to countries where they risk being tortured and even executed.

It is worth noting that it is CSIS which supplies the secret evidence and decides who to target as a threat to national security. Under a security certificate process, this evidence is not challenged in open court. CSIS has a track record of exaggerating threats and presenting facts from an angle which will carry their case (see Security Intelligence Review Committee reports, www.sirc-csars.gc.ca ). In an era of anti-terrorist paranoia and Islamophobia, its cooperation with American security agencies and countries like Syria who use torture (in the case of Maher Arar), is highly questionable. The secret trials are a way in which Canada can prove to the government of the United States that it is doing its part in the "war on terrorism."

http://www.adilinfo.org/ministerrefuses.htm

For more information: 514 290 5589 or 613 276-9102 or 416 795 8206 www.adilinfo.org, www.geocities.com/mohamedharkat/ , www.homesnotbombs.ca

The Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui formed in Montreal in a matter of days after his abrupt arrest. The Coalition - an alliance of Muslim groups, refugee and immigrant rights organizations, anti-oppression groups and the Charkaoui family - demands the immediate release of all Security Certificate detainees, no deportations, a fair trial, an immediate end to the "Security Certificate" system, an end to scape-goating in response to American pressure, and an end to the harassment of Muslims and Arabs

Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui tel. 514 859 9023, justiceforadil@riseup.net, www.adilinfo.org


Comments to : shunpike@shunpiking.org
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.