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29 June 2006
Hon. Stockwell Day
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
RE: Respect for requests from the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee
We are writing to ask your government to adopt a policy of fully complying with requests from the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee to stay a removal while an individual complaint is being examined. We are aware that such a request has recently been made to the Canadian government by the Committee Against Torture with respect to the complaint of Mr Bachan Singh Sogi and we ask that you ensure that his removal be delayed pending the Committee’s examination of the complaint.
As a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Canada must not deport anyone to a place where there are substantial grounds for believing that they are in danger of being tortured. The absolute prohibition on return to torture reflects the extreme gravity of the crime of torture with which no State should ever be in any way complicit.
Canada has also recognized the competence of the UN Committee Against Torture to receive and examine complaints from individuals who believe that Canada is not respecting their rights under the Convention. In order to be consistent with its own recognition of the role of the Committee Against Torture and to ensure that no one is returned to torture in error, Canada must comply with Committee requests to stay the removal of individuals such as Mr Sogi who have submitted complaints.
Canada has over the years earned a reputation as a defender of human rights and prided itself on its role internationally as a human rights leader. However, the shameful truth is that Canada has shown itself willing to violate its fundamental human rights obligations by knowingly deporting people to face torture and has shown disrespect for the UN human rights bodies in cases where there is a difference of opinion about the potential risk of torture.
These positions threaten individual rights and tarnish Canada’s reputation. They also weaken the international struggle against torture at a time when torture and support for torture have become more widespread. The present context makes it particularly important that Canada clearly and unequivocally commit itself to full compliance with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture and to full respect for the human rights bodies of the United Nations.
cc. Hon. Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Alain Jolicoeur, President, Canada Border Services Agency