|For Immediate Release|
|23 October 2007|
|Rights organizations oppose Bill C-3 on unfair security certificates|
The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) called today on Parliament to reject Bill C-3, which provides for continued use of security certificates, relying on secret evidence.
This bill is the government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charkaoui decision, which ruled that, because of the use of secret evidence, those subject to security certificates are denied a fair hearing. The bill proposes to maintain the use of secret evidence, but introduces a “special advocate” who would be able to hear the secret evidence.
“Special advocates are not the solution,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, CCR President. “Even with a special advocate, the hearing will not be fair, as the Supreme Court made clear, because the person will not know and have the opportunity to respond to the case against them. This is not good enough, especially since we know from the Arar Commission that security agencies can make mistakes.”
“The introduction of a special advocate model in response to the Charkaoui ruling would dangerously erode the right to due process at the core of the Canadian justice system,” said Roch Tassé, coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. “We need to be clear that such a model has no place in Canada - not for security certificates, nor for other procedures.”
Contrary to statements made by some, it is not clear that a special advocate system would withstand legal challenge. University of Toronto Law Professor Audrey Macklin explained: “The Supreme Court of Canada did not declare that the introduction of the UK Special Advocate model would render the security certificate regime constitutional. Rather, it surveyed a number of alternatives, including the Special Advocate model, in order to demonstrate that less draconian options existed, without endorsing any one of them as constitutionally adequate.”
Maintaining the security certificate procedure is not necessary to protect security: criminal investigations and prosecution should be used rather than immigration processes. “Criminal prosecution is a much better approach, because it allows more effective protection not only of individual rights, but also of security,” said McWeeny.
Canada has been criticized by United Nations human rights bodies for using immigration processes rather than criminal prosecutions in security cases, as well as for the use of secret evidence.
A CCR submission on the choices before Parliament in responding to the Charkaoui decision is available at www.ccrweb.ca/documents/Certificates07.pdf. The key points can be found at www.ccrweb.ca/documents/certificateskey.htmContacts:
Janet Dench, CCR Executive Director, tel. 514-277-7223 (ext. 1) or cell. 514-835-2046
Colleen French, CCR Communications Coordinator, (514) 277-7223 ext. 1
Roch Tassé, ICLMG Coordinator, tel. (613) 241-5298
Audrey Macklin, Professor, University of Toronto, tel. (416) 946-7493