Adil Charkaoui asks federal government to abolish security certificate process
Adil Charkaoui arrived in Vancouver today (June 25) from Montreal to ask the federal government to abolish the security certificate process in Canada.“The purpose of this Canadian tour is simple,” said Charkaoui at a news conference this morning. “I want to talk directly to Canadians, to show them that I was treated unfairly by their government, by our government.”
Charkaoui arrived in Canada from Morocco as a permanent resident with his mother, father and sister in 1995. On May 21, 2003, he was arrested after the federal government signed a security certificate against him, and later accused him of being a threat to national security. Charkaoui was jailed for 21 months and released under the strict conditions of a security certificate in 2005.
Today, he wears a GPS tracking device and must alert the Canadian Border Services Agency 48 hours before leaving the island of Montreal. As well, he is not allowed to associate with anyone with a criminal record or use the Internet outside of his home.
“Never has the federal government been able to prove the so called ‘reasonable character’ of the security certificate issued against him,” said Fernand Dechamps, who travelled to Vancouver with Charkaoui.
Charkaoui, who to this day has not been allowed to see any of the evidence against him, is one of five men in Canada currently living under a security certificate. These men “have been detained indefinitely, without knowing the reasons for their detention, the evidence underlying their detention, and without having an appropriate opportunity to argue their case for their release, and to argue against their deportation,” said Jason Gratl, vice-president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, at the same news conference.
“After six years of suffering, of jail, [and] of house arrest, I’m not asking any more about fair trial. It’s too late,” said Charkaoui, who is demanding a public apology.
The federal government should take steps to “close Guantanamo north in Kingston [Ontario], to abolish this unfair law of security certificates, to [bring] Omar Khadr back from Guantanamo,” Charkaoui said. “They have to change their policy to give us, like a minority, like immigrants, Arab and Muslim, fair treatment, to have the same rights like any Canadians.”
Security certificates have twice been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. In February 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the legality of security certificates, and gave the government a year to come up with a new system.
In September 2007, the federal government introduced Bill C-3, which “fell dismally short of what would be required to meet minimum international standards and Constitutional fair trial guarantees,” said Amnesty International’s Don Wright, who also participated in the news conference.
Bill C-3 was passed in February 2008, and did not fundamentally change the security certificate framework. Instead, it introduced a system of special advocates, lawyers who are security cleared and able to see the evidence against people under security certificates, but without having a relationship with the accused.
Charkaoui confirmed this morning that he was on board a June 3 Air Canada flight between Fredericton and Montreal, which turned around before it landed in Montreal and returned to Fredericton, where he was then required to deplane.
“I live with the stigma of being an ex-alleged, and I think it’s time that it stops,” Charkaoui said in French. “The harassment from secret services, CSIS, the information leaks, the calls to my home country—I think all of that has to stop.”
Charkaoui will speak in Vancouver at a public forum tomorrow (June 26) at 6:30 p.m. at SFU Harbour Centre (515 W. Hastings).