Editor’s Note: The board passed a resolution at the May 12, 2017 AGM to amend this resolution to request on no uncertain terms that Hassan Diab be released, and that change is reflected herein.
CUSJ’s mission is to defend and promote Unitarian principles, such as the inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice and equity in human relations, democracy, peace, and liberty for all. These principles call upon us to be a witness for justice on behalf of those who have not had access to fair treatment by the law in Canada.
Hassan Diab was born in Lebanon. He studied sociology in Beirut, received a PhD from Syracuse University, New York, and moved to Canada where he became a Canadian citizen in 1993. He taught Sociology at Carleton University and the Univeristy of Ottawa prior to his arrest. He holds dual citizenship. Dr. Diab was arrested in 2008 by the RCMP after France accused him of being involved in a 1980 bombing of a mosque in Paris. Hassan Diab steadfastly maintains his innocence. He claims this is a case of mistaken identity and that he was not in Paris in 1980.
- France requested his extradition from Canada based on intelligence France received in 1999. Literally no one knows its reliability. France does not extradite its citizens.
- Diab was held in prison until he was able to negotiate bail with strict conditions including curfews, confinement to the Hull-Ottawa area, and having to pay for his own security ankle bracelet at a cost of about $2000 month. He endured constant unscheduled visits to his private living quarters by the RCMP. He was never charged.
- The evidence that France submitted has been thoroughly examined and discredited in several Courts in Canada. The intelligence information offered was found to be unreliable. The Crown Attorneys (representing France) withdrew the intelligence from the case against Hassan. They also withdrew two handwriting analysis reports after the defence showed that documents being used for comparison were not written by Hassan but by his ex-wife. In spite of this embarrassment, the French submitted a new handwriting report making the same claims. Five world-renowned handwriting experts testified that this report is fatally flawed.
- Canadian Justice Robert Maranger dismissed virtually all of the other evidence as insufficient to meet the very low threshold for extradition. However, he declined to exclude the discredited handwriting analysis report despite his numerous misgivings about it. He added that “the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely” but that Canada’s extradition law left him no choice.
- The Court of Appeal for Ontario refused to overturn Justice Maranger’s ruling. In a decision that surprised many Canadian extradition experts, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear Hassan’s appeal in November 2014, despite it’s pointing to conflicts between BC and Ontario Court interpretations of the Extradictions Act. He was extradited to France the next day without being allowed to say goodbye to his family a day before his daughter’s birthday.
- Hassan has been in pretrial detention in a prison outside Paris [since November 14, 2014]. He could wait several years more before the investigating magistrate decides whether to bring him to trial. His applications for bail with house arrest and electronic monitoring have been repeatedly denied. He spends 20 hours of 24 in his cell and has 4 hours a day when he can either exercise or study.
- This makes [nine] years Dr. Diab has been held in detention or on repressive and expensive bail conditions in either Canada or France without charge or trial.
- Canadian law assumes that Canada has extradition agreements with countries that have fair justice systems. However, France was criticized in a well documented 2008 Human Rights Watch report for accepting unsourced intelligence and for running unfair trials.
- In Diab’s case, the intelligence and handwriting reports that the French withdrew in Canada remain in the dossier in France and have been used to deny him bail. If a trial is held, Hassan Diab would not be able to challenge the unsourced intelligence or cross-examine his accusers because no one knows who they are. Hassan Diab was never actually charged with anything prior to his extradition, although Canadian extrdition law only allows extradition to face charge. He has been in detention or out on bail without charge for seven years. According to current Canadian law his detention should be illegal, and is certainly not in the spirit of Canadian values.
Hassan Diab has not had the due process of law that should be the right of any Canadian citizen.
The board of the Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice (CUSJ) supports the right of every person living in Canada, whether legally or illegally, to know the nature of charges and evidence against them, to have a right to review the evidence against them and to have a right to a fair trial according to the standards of the Canadian legal system, including the right to cross examine witnesses as to the validity of their evidence in a Canadian court of law.
Be it resolved that the CUSJ Board:
- Call on the Government of Canada to take action to have Dr. Diab released immediately from prison, and returned to Canada.
- Call on the Government of Canada to review and strengthen its extradition laws to ensure that Canadians are not extradited to countries unless there is evidence against them that would stand up in a Canadian court;
- Ask the Government of Canada to conduct a complete review of the current laws relating to security certificates in order to determine how best to protect the national security of Canadians without impeding the right to due process and a fair trial.