Security Certificates Primer

What are security certificates?

Security Certificates are documents that, due to what human rights groups like CUSJ and ICLMG believe to be a deeply flawed Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), give the Canadian government authority to detain non-Canadians without charge. The cases of Hassan Diab and Mohamed Harkat are examples of Canadian citizens whose lives were ravaged by the government’s stubborn refusal to update the above act.

Security Certificates timeline

2001-Bill C-51 adopted

2002-Mohamed Harkat detained

In 2002, Mohamed Harkat (Arabic: محمد حركات‎), born August 6, 1968, in Algeria and a permanent resident of Canada, was arrested on suspicion of ties to terrorism and was imprisoned under a security certificate based on allegations by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that he entered the country as a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda.  Many human rights groups, CUSJ among them, believe that his detention is unconstitutional.  He has not seen the evidence against him and has not had any kind of open, fair trial.

2012 and 2013-The ICLMG and CUSJ reach out

The ICLMG undertook a letter campaign to stop the then-proposed Bill S-7, which in addition to promoting racism and xenophobia, allowed the government to arrest “potential terrorists” without trial and to hold them indefinitely.  CUSJ members Bob Staveley and Bob Stevenson, both also ICLMG members, were active in this campaign. The CUSJ wrote to the Minister of Justice to express its concerns.

In 2013, CUSJ participated in this campaign by writing a Letter to MPs on Bill S-7 opposing renewal of Security Certificate legislation.

CUSJ also supported the documentary film:  The Secret Trial 5, which described the psychology behind the rise of bills like C-51 and S-7 (which will be familiar to readers of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine), and which shows how families affected by these bills have suffered.


November 2014-Hassan Diab detained

Hassan Diab was extradited from Canada and placed in pre-trial detention in France, pending investigation into a 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue.


Bill S-7 was passed.

In January 2016, CUSJ passed a motion in support of Hassan Diab. CUSJ also wrote to the new Liberal Government requesting a change in policy.


Hassan Diab was released unconditionally and returned to Canada. The focus is now on changing Canada’s extradition laws.

Unfortunately, Mo Harkat is still living a severely compromised life due to security certificates. That battle is not over.


1 thought on “Security Certificates Primer”

  1. Dear Friends;
    Time for an update to this page. Unfortunately, Hassan was never free from the continued efforts to scapegoat him for a crime he didn’t/couldn’t have committed. The decision of the Court of Cassation, essentially France’s Supreme Court on May 19th, 2021 has set Hassan Diab up for a show trial, a possible defence against a second extradition process and trial in absentia based on incredibly incorrect ‘evidence’. visit for information – links to the petition to Parliament, templates for letters to Prime Minister Trudeau and more.
    Thanks in advance.
    Mary Ann


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