Motion in Support of Mo Harkat passed by the CUSJ Board 2016 01 10
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.
- Mo Harkat fled Algeria during the dirty war of the 1990’s after the ruling party refused to accept election results and began rounding up those who had opposed them. He went first to Pakistan, then Malaysia, and finally flew to Ottawa to apply for refugee status in 1995.
- The Canadian Government accepted his claim on February 24, 1997. In March, 1997 he applied for Permanent Resident Status.
- In 1997 CSIS interrogated Harkat but took no action. In December 2002, Harkat was arrested on a security certificate, though the heart of the allegations against him were kept secret from him and his legal counsel.
- He has been in various stages of custody ever since. He has been held in maximum security prison; held in house arrest in the 24-7 custody of his wife Sophie; and wore an ankle bracelet, closely supervised by a CSIS detail involving 6 officers and costing taxpayers over $800,000 per year.
- He is currently battling a deportation order to Algeria where he will certainly be imprisoned and face the risk of torture given the “threat label” that attaches to his name as a result of the security certificate.
- According to Human Rights Watch, in 2014 Algeria did not improve its human rights record. “Authorities curtailed free speech and the rights to freedom of association, assembly, and peaceful protest, and arrested and prosecuted political and trade union activists.”
- According to Amnesty International, “People named under certificates are exempted from legal provisions designed to prevent deportations to risk of torture or other human rights abuse. The government’s position, following its interpretation of the Supreme Court Suresh ruling, is that a named individual can be deported even if it is found that they risk torture or death.”
- Harkat has never been shown the “evidence” against him. Special advocates have been prevented from cross-examining secret informants in the case. He has never actually been charged with anything. He is in permanent detention without charge or trial.
- The Supreme Court of Canada upheld his certificate, but stated that it is not really in the spirit of Canadian values. Harkat has not had the due process of law that should be the right of any person living in Canada.
- Harkat has been gradually given more and more freedom over the past few years. He has not worn an ankle bracelet for almost two years and recently was given permission to travel inside Canada. Based on his behaviour during his partial and now almost complete release there is no reason to believe he is a threat to public security.
Be it resolved that: 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 against them, to have a right to review the evidence against them and to have a right to a fair trial according to Canadian legal standards including the right to cross examine witnesses as to the validity of their evidence in a Canadian court of law.
CUSJ calls on the Government of Canada to cancel the deportation order for Mr. Mohamed Harkat and instead release him from all forms of custody and surveillance. CUSJ calls on 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 removing the human rights of people in Canada to due process and a fair trial.