International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
17 juillet 2020
The News Digest will be on a short hiatus. La Revue de l'actualité fera une courte pause.
Open letter: Canadian government must ban use of facial recognition by federal law enforcement, intelligence agencies
ICLMG 02/07/2020 - Today, the ICLMG, OpenMedia and 29 organizations and 46 individuals, all active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties, issued a call for the federal government to enact an immediate ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the RCMP. The full letter, addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and list of signatories is below.

Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada. Studies have shown the racial biases in facial recognition surveillance, with leading technology mis-identifying Black, Asian and Indigenous faces 10 to 100 times more than white faces. As the letter points out, at a time when society is pushing to address systemic racism in policing, adopting a technology that is known for its racial biases is a move in the wrong direction. Even if these biases could be addressed, though, the dangers posed by facial recognition surveillance to our rights would persist. Facial recognition surveillance undermines our freedoms of association, assembly, expression and movement, as well as the right to privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Canada’s existing privacy laws do not regulate biometrics, including facial recognition, allowing the technology to be adopted by police forces across the country without any oversight or clear rules. For example, the RCMP has used the highly controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology without consulting the Privacy Commissioner or issuing a Privacy Impact Assessment. The federal police force went so far as to publicly deny its use of Clearview AI’s technology, when it had actually been operating it for several months. Along with the ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the federal level, the signatories are also calling on the government to:
  • Initiate a meaningful, public consultation on all aspects of facial recognition technology in Canada;
  • Establish clear and transparent policies and laws regulating the use of facial recognition in Canada, including reforms to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Privacy Act.

Source + Share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

RCMP at centre of facial recognition lawsuit
The Canadian Press 13/07/2020 - A Quebec photographer wants a judge to order the RCMP to destroy all the images of Canadians it obtained through a controversial facial-recognition tool. Ha Vi Doan's proposed class-action lawsuit in Federal Court seeks unspecified damages for her and other Canadians whose photos and related information were allegedly part of a massive database compiled by U.S. firm Clearview AI and used by the Mounties. Clearview AI's technology worries many privacy advocates because it allows for the collection of huge numbers of images from multiple sources with the aim of helping police forces, financial institutions and other clients identify individuals from photos.

The federal privacy commissioner said this month the company will stop offering its facial-recognition services in Canada in response to an investigation by the commissioner and three provincial counterparts. Clearview's retreat includes an indefinite suspension of the company's contract with the RCMP, its last remaining client in Canada. [...] Doan's proposed class proceeding says the RCMP became a Clearview AI client even though the company's services entailed a "large-scale invasion of privacy of residents and citizens of Canada," as well as infringement of copyright.

Doan is passionate about photography and takes pictures of herself and others, posting a significant number on her own website and online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, the filing says. She alleges her "personal biometric information" and photos have been collected, copied, reproduced, stored or used by Clearview without her knowledge or consent. The class action would cover three types of plaintiffs:
—people in Canada whose images are in the Clearview AI database,
—those who were the subjects of targeted database searches by the RCMP, and
—those holding copyright and moral rights with respect to photos.

It seeks a court order that the RCMP destroy all documents and information from Clearview in response to searches of the database. The court action also wants the Mounties to be barred from future use of the database "or similar services of other providers." The RCMP "should have known better" and verified compliance with Canadian laws and regulations before using Clearview's services, said Lev Alexeev, a lawyer for Doan. Cpl. Caroline Duval, an RCMP spokeswoman, said the force was reviewing the filing, but declined further comment since the matter is before the courts. Doan has filed a second planned class-action suit in Federal Court against Clearview AI, alleging privacy and copyright infringements. It seeks an order that Clearview destroy all personal information about Canadians and be forbidden from doing business in Canada. Representatives of Clearview AI had no immediate comment. Dozens of groups and individuals working to protect privacy, human rights and civil liberties recently wrote to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair urging a ban on the use of facial-recognition surveillance by federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. Read more - Lire plus

Questions from the Just Governance Group, Answers by Tim McSorley
Multiples 07/2020 - JGG: Why are human rights and democratic mechanisms so vulnerable amid health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic? Tim McSorley: It’s important to recognize that even outside of a time of emergency, human rights protections and democratic institutions are often partially or completely unavailable for a large portion of the population. We see this lack of access in our work on national-security related issues at the ICLMG, including racial profiling, diminished rights due to surveillance and secret trials, and restrictions on fundamental rights like freedom of expression, assembly and movement.

This issue plays out in other sectors on a daily basis as well: unequal access to health care, working conditions that undermine physical and mental health, discrimination in the health system, among other concerns. When we are confronted with a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, these rights suffer an entirely new level of threat: systems that were already complicated to navigate become even more difficult as both service providers and service users are attempting to adapt to an entirely new situation. Furthermore, ICLMG has documented how the “emergency” of the so-called “War on Terror” has given cover for governments to limit access to democratic mechanisms and to undermine human rights. In times of emergency, the public is urged to forego their rights, often on a proposed temporary basis, in order to confront the greater enemy – only to see the restrictions become permanent.

While COVID-19 indeed presents a formidable danger to the public that justifies some extraordinary actions, we have also seen numerous instances of far-reaching emergency power legislation that places severe restrictions on speech, association and movement, grants governments the power to suspend or modify laws for months or even years, limiting access to courts and human rights bodies. Finally, the nature of the pandemic also means that normal oversight bodies, for example government committees, human rights commissions, even the courts, are not operating on a normal basis. So as rights may be violated, those who would normally aide in securing remedies are not available. Read more - Lire plus page 8

Stop Mohamed Harkat's deportation to torture!
Facebook 07/2020 - Life for Moe Harkat could be as happy as this photograph except for one thing. Canada has spent 18 years, wasting millions, to deport Moe to torture in Algeria, based on unfounded, unsubstantiated secret allegations created by two informants: one failed a lie detector test and the other had an affair with their CSIS agent handler. Neither was allowed by the Federal Court to be cross-examined. This case boils down to racism and Islamophobia. It would be a classic wrongful conviction, but he's never even been charged. One thing you can do to help Moe and stop this illegal act is sign and share this petition. Source

Bessa Whitmore  writes: "I heard about Moe’s arrest in 2002 and became concerned that he (and others) were arrested on the basis of “secret evidence.” This alarmed me as it is extremely dangerous. If that becomes the basis for an arrest, we all become potential targets (remember the words of Martin Niemoller, the Nazi concentration camp survivor). Such things must not be acceptable in a democracy. Since then, I have come to know Moe and Sophie well, and have fully supported their fight for justice. I regard them both as exceptional people – generous, principled, caring human beings. For many years, Moe has been a diligent, skilled and highly creative fix-it person. He finds ways to make just about anything work. I have come to rely on him when I need help and he responds immediately and cheerfully. For me Moe and Sophie are models of courage. No one, in Canada (or anywhere else) should have to endure the years of continual harassment, surveillance and threat of deportation. It’s time to end this nightmare and allow Moe and his family to live in security and peace." Source

NUPGE, ICLMG's member organization, speaks out against security certificates
NUPGE 07/07/2020 - Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), has written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemning the use of security certificates. Brown wrote: “Security certificates have allowed for the detention of non-citizens in Canada without charges being laid, or transparent justification or evidence provided for the detention, all while these individuals face the threat of deportation.”

In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that security certificates were unconstitutional. The Canadian government under Stephen Harper made modifications to the security certificate system, but it remains flawed to this day. “Although the Supreme Court upheld the revised system in 2014,” noted Brown, “human rights advocates have pointed out that, given the minimal changes, the process still fails to provide for a fair and transparent process.”

NUPGE has long  taken a stand against the use of security certificates and secret trials in Canada. “We believe the security certificate process is undemocratic and stands in direct opposition to our commitment to justice. I urge you to once and for all eliminate the problematic security certificate process,” wrote Brown. “It has no place in our democratic country that purports to be committed to human rights.”

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. Read more - Lire plus
Judge calls for review after CSIS fails to flag info likely obtained illegally
CBC 16/07/2020 - A federal judge is calling for a comprehensive review after ruling Canada's spy service failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism. In his ruling released Thursday, Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson found the Canadian Security Intelligence Service breached its duty of candour to the court, part of a troubling pattern dating back years. Gleeson said the review must look at interactions between CSIS and the federal Justice Department to fully identify systemic, governance and cultural shortcomings and failures. Gleeson said anything less will fall short of ensuring that confidence and trust in the spy service as a key national institution is restored and enhanced. [...]

The ruling flows from the spy service's efforts to investigate foreign fighters — Canadian citizens who might return to Canada after travelling abroad to take part in extremism. In one case, CSIS paid someone known to be facilitating or carrying out terrorism an amount totalling less than $25,000 over a few years, the decision said. The ruling comes four years after the Federal Court found CSIS illegally held onto potentially revealing electronic data about people who posed no security threat and breached its duty to inform the court of the data-collection program. [...] "The circumstances disclosed here suggest a degree of institutional disregard for — or, at the very least, a cavalier institutional approach to — the duty of candour and regrettably the rule of law." Read more - Lire plus
Family of Canadian child stuck in Syria taking government to court
CTV News 14/07/2020 - Relatives of a five-year-old Canadian girl stuck in Syria have one question as they head to court in an escalation of a nearly year-long effort to bring the child to Canada: Why won't the government help? The girl known publicly as Amira was found on the side of a road last year after her parents and siblings were killed in an airstrike, and she was taken to a refugee camp. Her uncle, known as Ibrahim, has been trying nearly ever since to get her to Canada to join family in Toronto but the federal government has refused to help.

"Why won't they do it? It's a five-year old Canadian orphan girl and why won't they repatriate her in the face of repatriating thousands of Canadians all over the world, why not Amira?" the family's lawyer Lawrence Greenspon asked Tuesday after filing an application in Federal Court. The family is arguing the federal government has failed to provide her with emergency travel documents and make an official request to the regional Syrian government to repatriate her and has refused to send a representative to assist in making that happen. Taken together, this treatment violates her rights as a citizen, the family alleges.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked on June 29 why the federal government wasn't doing more to get Canadians out of Syria. Trudeau said while there are countries that have diplomats on the ground in Syria, Canada is not one of them and it remains a dangerous place, especially in a pandemic. "We will continue to ensure that we're keeping as a priority the protection of Canadians working abroad, particularly in this COVID context, but in every context," he said. The court documents point out that Amira's uncle has travelled to Syria on his own, with no protection, and was able to not just meet with Amira in the refugee camp but government officials there who agreed she would be allowed to leave once Canada gave the green light.

Lawyers also note that countries with no consular services in Syria have leaned on other countries or humanitarian groups to help repatriate their citizens. Greenspon said the family is working to identify one such group that could assist in bringing Amira back, and time is of the essence. She is currently being cared for by a non-governmental organization working inside the Al-Hawl camp, in a region of Syria controlled by Kurdish-led forces. In recent weeks, the family has learned that the Syrian regime has been making inquiries about her, Greenspon said. The regional government supports efforts to repatriate the child but the Syrian regime may not, he suggested.

"We don't want to think about the consequences of what might happen if the Syrian government went after Amira and tried to take custody of her," he said. Amira is one of 47 Canadians, 26 of whom are children, stuck in northeastern Syria and Greenspon said the case could also pave the way for them to be able to come home. The regional government, known as AANES, has urged countries to repatriate their citizens, in part because they no longer want to look after them, Greenspon said. Many are being held on suspicions of collusion with Islamic State militants, and Greenspon said there has been the suggestion Amira's parents were involved in the group as well. "Even if that's the case, so what?" Greenspon said. "With Amira ... an orphaned Canadian, it really matters not to what extent her parents were sympathizers or involved with ISIS." Read more - Lire plus

Fareed Khan: White privilege on display in RCMP handling of Rideau Hall security breach
The View from Here 11/07/2020 - After driving from Manitoba in his pickup truck,  Corey Hurren , a white man in his 40s, arrived at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on July 2nd, where he used his vehicle as a battering ram to break through the RCMP police check point at the gates of the property where the Prime Minister and the Governor General live, in order to (allegedly) harm or kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Following Hurren's arrest it was confirmed by the RCMP that he was in possession of multiple firearms, including a handgun, and that his arrest occurred without Hurren being physically harmed after RCMP officers spent more than 90 minutes talking him down. Contrast the RCMP handling of a heavily armed and dangerous intruder near the residences of Canada’s top two government officials and its outcome with the way that they and other police forces across the country have handled encounters with Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).  This year alone, on eight occasions, Indigenous, Black and Brown Canadians have been shot and killed by police, and none were in possession of a firearm at the time they died.

To BIPOC communities the difference between how Hurren was treated and how they are treated is a clear illustration of white privilege and racism in policing.  Nothing else could explain why police were willing to take greater care and patience dealing with a heavily armed white man bent on violence against the PM than they do when dealing with unarmed Indigenous and racialized individuals. Since the beginning of 2020 there have been 11 documented cases of  police shootings  resulting in the death of civilians. In June alone there were three instances where Indigenous people and a person of colour were shot by police.  Neither  Chantal Moore Rodney Levi , nor  Ejaz Choudry  were in possession of firearms and yet the police used deadly force, while Hurren was heavily armed and police dealt with him without firing a shot. Since the killing of  George Floyd  by a Minneapolis police officer in May, police forces in Canada have been under intense scrutiny for their use of force in encounters with BIPOC.  According to an  analysis  conducted by CTV and released in June, of the last 100 people killed by police dating back to January 2017, 38 percent of the shooting victims were Indigenous and 9 percent were Black, even though they represented 5 percent and 3 percent of the population respectively.  The fact that the number of non-white victims of police shootings are disproportionately higher than their numbers in the general population is not a new revelation.  But when examining police-civilian encounters in Canada, the security incident at Rideau Hall implies if not clearly illustrates the presence of white privilege and racial discrimination in policing in a way that statistics cannot.

It is apparent from the history of police encounters with civilians, that individuals who are BIPOC more frequently face violence and a violation of their rights at the hands of police than do white people.  For years academics, researchers and activists have been saying it is because of racism embedded in police culture.  What else would explain the way a heavily armed white intruder who violently breached the perimeter of Rideau Hall was treated, and it begs the question what would have been the outcome if he had been Indigenous or Black or Muslim? The Rideau Hall incident has strengthened calls for a comprehensive restructuring and review of how policing is done to eliminate an apparent culture of white privilege and racism under which police seem to operate. In addition, activists are demanding that significant resources be shifted from policing to programs that deal with social problems in the community that could lead to individuals facing off against police (with deadly results). If demonstrations across the country are any indication, Canadians are unwilling to continue with policing as usual. Read more - Lire plus

Webinar – The Tragic Injustice of a Canadian Minor with Mental Illness: Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy
Bring Abdul Homw 08/07/2020 - #BringAbdulHome in partnership with #JusticeForSoli is proud to present this important webinar which provides information on Abdulrahman’s El Bahnasawy’s case through different perspectives. The purpose and objective of this webinar is to shed light and have a discussion about Abdulrahman’s story, mental health, entrapment, and how to protect our children from entrapment. Featuring Yusuf Faqiri, Khadiga Ahmad (Mother), Khalil Meek, Hassan Shibly , Monia Mazigh , Imam Mohamed Refaat, and Osama El Bahnasawy (Father). Watch - Visionnez

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin: Under Cover of COVID at the UN: Why Counterterrorism Is Not the Answer to a Pandemic
Just Security 10/07/2020 - This week’s first-ever ” Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week ” (CT Week) at the United Nations is framed as revolving around the pandemic. Issues include “multilateral collaboration” between U.N. counterterrorism structures and those responding to the coronavirus, leveraging “existing multilateral (counterterrorism) platforms” to address the crisis, “human security and the threat of bioterrorism in the COVID-19 environment,” and assessing “where … public health and security systems meet.” Yet nowhere on the agenda is there discussion of the misuse and appropriation of the coronavirus to suppress rights, to leverage greater executive power, to limit democratic and independent oversight, and to engage the coercive power of the police and security sector.

Certainly the threat of terrorism persists, notwithstanding the existence of the global pandemic. Global institutions with a responsibility for supporting States in managing genuine terrorist threats have designated obligations to assess, brief, and offer advice on how best to leverage the multilateral system to protect and advance national and human security. For example, the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) and the Security Council’s  1267 committee  that oversees sanctions related to ISIS and al-Qaeda have issued preliminary  assessments  of such threats, and they have acknowledged the methodological challenges in gauging security and measuring the differential impacts of terrorism across States and regions.

But in all such assessments, U.N. counterterrorism entities assume that member States view the concept of terrorism similarly and address it equally, based on the rule of law. In reality, as the mandate I hold and other U.N. human rights entities have persistently articulated, national-level regulation of terrorism is often broad and vague. The result is long-term — and now entrenched — proliferation of excessive counterterrorism laws and sanctions frameworks that have strangled the capacity of civil society — and increasingly humanitarian organization — to operate. In multiple States, terrorism functions as a convenient fig leaf for the legal and political management of dissenters, political opposition, civil society actors, humanitarians, inconvenient minorities, and human rights defenders. Allowing States to define terrorism exclusively on their own terms encourages the proliferation of national legislation that, for example, includes acts protected by international law such as speech and assembly as terrorism or security threats. That is now exacerbated and accelerated by the use of the pandemic as a basis for new security legislation in multiple states. In essence, we face an epidemic of exceptional law and practice under the cover of the coronavirus. Yet, during the U.N.’s CT Week, the single session on human rights focuses on the value of human rights in promoting ‘resilience against terrorism,’ without mentioning the elephant in the room: the now-routine abuse of human rights in the name of countering terrorism and extremism.

The COVID-19 Freedom  Tracker , developed by the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law ( ICNL ) and European Center for Not-for-Profit Law ( ECNL ) and supported by my mandate, monitors the deployment of emergency powers across the globe. The tracker shows us that 88 countries have formally issued emergency declarations since the beginning of the pandemic, 41 countries have adopted measures that affect freedom of expression, 118 countries have measures impacting assembly, and 41 countries have measures affecting privacy. This is only one measurement of the legal exceptionality through the widespread use of emergency powers emerging under cover of the coronavirus, as it does not measure informal or de facto states of emergency, pre-existing counterterrorism legislation being de facto reworked and adapted for security responses to the pandemic, nor the widespread use of executive powers and administrative law, including at multiple levels in federal systems of government. As the Just Security  series  on emergency laws during the pandemic has illustrated at the national level (e.g.  Hungary Brazil Poland UK , and  Nigeria ) many of the formal measures taken are, in practice, overbroad and reach beyond the health emergency at hand. It appears that the specter of COVID-19 is functioning as a means for speeding up the passage of  pending  counterterrorism legislation, including in countries as diverse as the  Philippines France Cambodia Kyrgyzstan , and  China . Read more - Lire plus

A fourth pillar for the United Nations? The rise of counter-terrorism
SaferWorld 07/2020 - Seventy-five years ago, the Charter of the United Nations (UN) established a new institution with three founding pillars: peace and security, human rights and development. Over the past 20 years however, a fourth pillar – counter-terrorism – has begun to emerge, through multiple UN Security Council resolutions, a global strategy from the UN General Assembly, the rise of the countering or preventing violent extremism agenda, and the creation of a stand-alone UN Office of Counter-terrorism. This discussion paper explores the current effects and future implications of the UN’s embrace of counter-terrorism, given the mounting evidence of the harmful impacts of this agenda worldwide.

It is the duty of all states to protect their citizens, and states do have a legitimate right to defend themselves from both external and internal threats. Globally, however, counter-terrorism has become many states’ primary pretext for violating human rights in the name of security, portraying particular groups as a security threat. Education and empowerment for peace programmes have mutated into tools for preventing young people’s radicalisation leading to violence. Directly and indirectly, peace operations now play a growing role in combatting terrorism. Mediation, peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts by the UN and UN partners are being criminalised, discouraged and crowded out. Given that the UN’s work on peace, development and human rights requires building trust and legitimacy with people and communities in an increasingly authoritarian and conflicted world, such approaches put the UN’s effectiveness on the line.

Given these trends, this paper articulates seven problems with the UN’s embrace of counterterrorism:
1. ‘PVE-isation’ of peace, human rights, development and humanitarianism – through the infusion of questionable PVE methods and approaches into many traditional areas of UN activity.
2. Blue-washing member states’ abusive approaches – by enabling the UN ‘brand’ to be used by member states to legitimise abusive, corrupt, exclusionary or discriminatory counter-terror approaches.
3. Embracing the contested concept of radicalisation – through lending credibility to unproven approaches and contested terms that result in ineffective and often harmful programming.
4. Fuelling threat inflation – by creating incentives for those inside and outside the UN to exaggerate and prioritise terrorism over other important issues.
5. Co-opting critical voices – by fostering a culture in which mild criticism is welcomed and used to expand the counter-terror industry, while more fundamental questions and concerns are stifled and evaded.
6. Creating incoherence and failing to manage risk – by generating pressures for different parts of the UN system to work at cross purposes, and transferring rather than managing risk.
7. Stymieing improvement: the failure to learn – by neglecting to establish credible learning and review systems that could better manage the performance of ineffective and harmful counter-terror and C/PVE approaches.

It finds that the compromises the UN has struck have come to threaten its ability to uphold its Charter, putting the effectiveness of its work for peace, rights and development on the line. It identifies steps UN leadership and member states can take to: 
  • protect the UN’s credibility and impact 
  • refocus UN strategy on peace, rights and development 
  • turn evidence and experience into improvement. Read more - Lire plus

Hong Kong: books by pro-democracy activists disappear from library shelves
The Guardian 05/07/2020 - Books written by prominent  Hong Kong  democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a new national security law on the finance hub. Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker. Beijing’s new  national security law came into force on Tuesday  and is the most radical shift in how the semi-autonomous city is run since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority”. But it has already  sent fear coursing through a city used to speaking openly , with police arresting people for possessing slogans pushing independence or greater autonomy and businesses scrambling to remove protest displays. Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law. “White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech,” he wrote on Facebook, using a phrase that refers to political persecution. Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan are no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the city.

An Agence France-Presse reporter was unable to find the titles at a public library in the district of Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon. The city’s cultural services department, which runs libraries, said books had been removed while it is determined whether they violate the national security law. “In the process of the review the books will not be available for borrowing and reference,” it said. The law targets acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces. Read more - Lire plus

Turkey: Court deals crushing blow for human rights and for justice as four activists convicted
Amnesty International 03/07/2020 - Following a majority court ruling to convict Taner Kılıç for ‘membership of the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization’ and to convict Özlem Dalkıran, İdil Eser and Günal Kurşun for ‘assisting the Fethullah Gülenterrorist organization’, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher who observed the hearing said: 

“Today, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. This verdict is a crushing blow not only for Taner, Özlem, İdil and Günal and their families but for everyone who believes in justice, and human rights activism in Turkey and beyond. The decision of the court is staggering. During 12 court hearings, each and every allegation has been comprehensively exposed as a baseless slur. The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices it was from day one. This case has been a litmus test for the Turkish justice system. As such, it is tragic to see the part it has played and continues to play in criminalizing the act of standing up for human rights. We will continue to stand with our friends and colleagues as they appeal these shameful verdicts.” Read more - Lire plus
On Hejaaz Hizbullah: The latest victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act
Amnesty International 15/07/2020 - Hejaaz’s family believes he is being targeted for his professional work as a lawyer and his peaceful activism for the human rights of Sri Lanka’s embattled Muslim minority. Hejaaz is currently serving a detention order for 90 days authorized by the Sri Lankan President, even though a detention order can only be made by the Minister of Defence and Sri Lanka has no cabinet Minister for Defence. Under the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), one of the main tools used to perpetrate human rights violations in Sri Lanka, any “suspect” can be placed in detention – without charge and without being produced before a judge. The detention order can be renewed for a further 90 days and continue to be renewed for up to 18 months.

The PTA has long been criticized as an abusive law that has been used to crush dissent and forcibly disappear people, along with other violations. The Sri Lankan authorities have acknowledged the inherently abusive character of the PTA but have failed to repeal it as promised. The last government proposed its own legislation to replace the law but failed to amend the draft law in order to secure sufficient support for it before being replaced themselves. Hejaaz, who has only been able to see his lawyer and family a few times and always in the presence of the authorities, could remain under arbitrary detention until October 2021. While in detention, he will have been subjected to arbitrary deprivation of his liberty and had a myriad of his rights violated, without being able to mount an appeal in the courts. The authorities have plunged him in this predicament on the basis of nothing more than his legitimate associations with Mohamed Ibrahim, the father of the bombers who perpetrated attacks on churches in Sri Lanka over Easter 2019. The authorities have publicly stated that the reason for his arrest were his interactions with the bombers and their family.

Hejaaz was connected to Mohamed Ibrahim in two ways. For the past five years, he had served as his lawyer, handling legal cases related to his business. Hejaaz and Mohamed Ibrahim were also part of the “Save the Pearls” organization, a charity that supports the education of underprivileged children, hoping to lure them away from criminal activities and drug abuse. Mohamed Ibrahim served as the organization’s treasurer as part of his wider philanthropic activities, a role he later handed over to his son Ilham, one of the bombers. Ilham was asked to step down from the role in 2016 by the organization’s board, barely a few months after taking over the post. Hejaaz, a member of the board, only attended eight of its 52 meetings in a span of 5 years. Amnesty International is extremely concerned that the case and evidence against Hejaaz may now be subject to fabrication. [...]

The Sri Lankan government must immediately restore Hejaaz’s due process rights, including producing him before a judge, allowing him to challenge the grounds of his detention, ensuring that he has unfettered access to his family and lawyers, and, in the absence of any charges of credible evidence of a crime being committed, release him. And to stop further such travesties of justice taking place, the Sri Lankan authorities should finally repeal the abusive PTA, and provide people who have suffered because of it the justice they are owed in the form of remedies and reparations. Read more - Lire plus
Russian Journalist Sentenced on Bogus Terrorism Charges
HRW 06/07/2020 - Today, a Russian court sentenced  journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva  to a fine of 500,000 rubles (approx. USD$ 7000) on bogus terrorism charges. The conviction of the journalist, who works for the Echo of Moscow and Radio Free Europe, is another devastating blow to media freedom in Russia.

Prokopyeva’s nightmare began in February 2019, when police searched her apartment, seized her electronic devices, and interrogated her about a November 2018 radio broadcast. During the broadcast, Prokopyeva commented on an attack perpetrated by a 17-year-old suicide bomber in the Federal Security Service (FSB) building in the city of Arkhangelsk. She argued that Russia’s repressive policies, including the lack of free and fair elections and the crackdown on free assembly, made peaceful political and civic activism nearly impossible and served to radicalize the youth. In July 2019, the authorities put Prokopyeva on the  list of “terrorists and extremists,”  freezing her assets and allowing her to withdraw only 10,000 rubles (about $140) a month for basic necessities. In September, she was indicted for “public justification or propaganda of terrorism,” based solely on the published transcript of her broadcast.

Not only will Prokopyeva have to pay a fine - outrageous in of itself – the conviction will stalk her even after she pays it. She will have a criminal record and until her conviction expires, her name will remain on the list of “terrorists and extremists,” and she will be restricted from foreign travel. After years of  attacks groundless prosecutions stifling fines , and  intimidation  of independent media, Prokopyeva’s case creates another dangerous precedent, with a journalist found guilty of a terrorism offence for normal journalistic work. These prosecutions are clearly aimed at inciting self-censorship and forcing journalists and editors to doubt every critical word for fear of being labeled an “ enemy of the state ”. Read more - Lire plus
UN: Armed drones: Special Rapporteur examines the dawning of the "second drone age"
statewatch 10/07/2020 - The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has issued a new report examining the expanding use of armed drones.

"[The report] interrogates the reasons for drones’ proliferation and the legal implications of their promises; questions the legal bases upon which their use is founded and legitimized; and identifies the mechanisms and institutions (or lack thereof) to regulate drones’ use and respond to targeted killings. The report shows that drones are a lightning rod for key questions about protection of the right to life in conflicts, asymmetrical warfare, counter-terrorism operations, and so-called peace situations. With their lot of unlawful deaths and arbitrary killings, they are also revealing of the severe failures of national and international institutions mandated to protect human rights, democracy, peace and security." Read more - Lire plus
New Bill Looks to One-Up Previous Anti-Encryption Law by Requiring Backdoors in Nearly Every Electronic Device
CPO magazine 07/07/2020 - The  proposed EARN IT Act  set off a firestorm of controversy in privacy circles when it was introduced in early March. A new proposal makes its terms look tame and reasonable by comparison. Dubbed the “Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act of 2020”, the new anti-encryption law would require that a backdoor be placed in nearly every electronic device that has at least 1 GB of memory and all encrypted services.

The bill is essentially the Armageddon scenario of a complete government ban on encryption that some privacy advocates have been fearing (and sounding alarms about) for years. However, the terms of the bill are so outlandish and impractical that it would appear to stand little real chance of going anywhere. When one considers that it is sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was also one of the primary sponsors of the EARN IT Act, it begins to look more like an attempt to make the original proposal sound like a comparatively reasonable compromise. Read more - Lire plus
Secret Federal Police Deployed by Trump Snatch Protesters Off Portland Streets
Common Dreams 17/07/2020 - Oregon’s Democratic governor and other state lawmakers are demanding that President Donald Trump immediately remove all federal law enforcement officials from the streets of Portland after alarming video footage posted online late Thursday showed unidentified officers dressed in combat fatigues arresting Black Lives Matter protesters without explanation and throwing them into unmarked vehicles. “This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a  statement . “The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.” “Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.”

Brown said she told Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to “remove all federal officers from our streets” but he refused,  claiming  that Portland “has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob.” Wolf’s response, said Brown, shows “he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way. This, coming from the same President who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. to engineer a photo opportunity,” she added. Oregon Public Broadcasting  reported  Thursday that “federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off,” OPB reported.
In response to one such video, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted that “authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters.”

“These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end,” Merkley added. During protests over the weekend, a federal agent shot a 26-year-old peaceful demonstrator in the head with a munition,  fracturing his skull . “Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face,” Merkley tweeted Thursday. “These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence. If Wolf is coming here to inflame the situation so Donald Trump can look like a tough guy, he should turn around and leave our city now.” In response to the incident, Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined Oregon Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici in  demanding an full investigation  and accountability for the officer who fired the munition. “In recent weeks, the federal government has deployed to Portland a number of DOJ and DHS officers,” the lawmakers wrote. “This politically driven federal response is intolerable.” Read more - Lire plus

UK may have been complicit in torture of 15 more people, court hearing reveals
Reprieve 09/06/2020 - There are at least 15 previously-unidentified cases of people who may have been tortured with UK complicity, it was revealed today, as part of a High Court hearing where the UK Government is trying to push all evidence of the 15 cases into a secret court. The revelation came as part of a hearing in the Judicial Review brought by human rights NGO Reprieve and MPs David Davis (Con.) and Dan Jarvis (Lab.) on the UK Government’s failure to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK complicity in torture and rendition.

The Government argued that evidence of British involvement in torture and rendition should be kept behind closed doors and heard only in secret courts. This includes the product of a recent secret, internal-only MI6 review, which identified 15 new cases of potential UK complicity in torture and rendition, as happened to Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj who received a historic apology from the UK in 2018. These 15 cases have never been properly independently investigated. The 15 cases were identified by MI6 in October 2018 in the course of an internal review – after the Intelligence and Security Committee published a report identifying several cases of potential UK complicity which had not arisen in any previous investigations (including previous internal reviews by MI5 and MI6). Reprieve believes these 15 further cases – which we understand were never seen by the ISC – may just be the tip of the iceberg. The Intelligence and Security Committee’s report described hundreds of such cases but the individuals involved were not disclosed.

Maya Foa, Reprieve Director, said: When the Government broke its promise to torture survivors, it also broke the law. And now the Government is trying to push these shocking new revelations – and our call for an independent, judge-led inquiry – into secret courts. Evidence of British involvement in kidnap, torture, and rendition, must be opened up to public scrutiny so that victims can seek redress – and so that this country may not be doomed to repeat mistakes of the so-called war on terror. David Davis MP, said: Last year when the Government admitted that it would not proceed with its promised inquiry into torture, after years of dither and delay, I was frankly exasperated. And when I said in Parliament ‘see you in court’, I meant it. But what I meant was transparent, open court – not this un-British, Kafkaesque, secret courts process, hidden away from public scrutiny for the Government to sweep any embarrassing revelations into a dark corner. We owe it to torture survivors, and to the British public, to take an honest, transparent look at this terrible period. 

Dan Jarvis MP, said: The UK is not, nor should it ever be, above the law. Our response to the threat of terrorism must be unequivocal, but it must also be legal. As mounting evidence has shown, that standard has not always been met. This call for an inquiry is not an attempt to damage Britain’s reputation but to rebuild it. I believe the government has a legal and moral obligation to investigate what happened, prevent it happening again, and the public has a right to know what was done in its name. Read more - Lire plus
From January to July 2020
ICLMG - The first half of 2020 has been very difficult given the impact of the pandemic, but we continued working hard to protect our civil liberties. Below you can see what we have accomplished so far this year, but first here is a sneak-peek into what we plan to do for the rest of 2020:

  • We will continue to protect our civil liberties and human rights against the threat of digital surveillance in the response to COVID-19, as well as the growing dangers of facial recognition technology.

  • We will continue to monitor the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), especially around mass surveillance and immunity for CSIS employees.

  • We will continue to push for greater accountability and transparency for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), including the establishment of a strong, effective and independent review mechanism.

  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US.

  • We will continue to call for justice for Dr. Hassan Diab and for the reform of the Extradition Act.

  • We will continue to pressure lawmakers to protect our civil liberties from the negative impact of national security and the “war on terror”, as well as keeping you and our 47 member organizations, informed via the News Digest.

Protect our rights in the fight against COVID-19!
ICLMG - As all levels of government across Canada seek to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are considering using smartphone tracking or other mass public data collection to track infections or ensure compliance with rules.
The pressure to adopt extraordinary measures in response to extraordinary situations is understandably high. But government officials must make sure to protect our privacy, values and human rights by following seven straightforward principles on privacy & surveillance.

Federal, provincial and municipal officials are deciding NOW whether to bring in new surveillance measures to counter COVID-19. Send them a message telling them to follow these principles in any decisions they make.
Share and like on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + YouTube
Ban Police Use of Facial Recognition in Canada
For years, Canadian law enforcement has been secretly using controversial facial recognition technology—that’s been shown to be discriminatory and biased—without any laws governing its use. Now, some of the very companies that make these tools are refusing to sell them to the police until the government creates laws that regulate their ethical use. It is absurd it has come to this. To protect the rights of everyone, we need our lawmakers to act now. Sign the petition to ban the police use of facial recognition technology in Canada!
All-in-one action page: Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture
Call PM Trudeau, write a letter to Public Safety Minister & your MP, and sign Sophie Harkat's petition to stop the deportation of Moe Harkat.

If sent back to Algeria, Moe faces detention, torture and death.

No one should be deported to torture. Ever.
Defund the police & the RCMP
More and more people are calling on their city councils to reduce and eliminate budgets for policing. We are no longer going to pay for police to harm our communities. These funds can be re-directed to support the recovery and provide much need improvements to public housing, transit, and food security programs among other basic needs. Please use this e-mail tool to tell your City Councillor to act now to defund the police in your communities. Together we keep each other safe.

Philippines: Junk the terror bill and uphold human rights!
The Anti-Terrorism bill is a clear and direct attack against our academic freedom, right to organize, and freedom of expression to air out our grievances towards the inefficiencies and deficiencies of the government's mandate to serve its people through government services.This positions the government to silence the any dissenter or organizer and given the rich history of harassment of law enforcement agencies and military personnel, harassment and terror-tagging has been a step further for even more killings and silencing.
China: Free Canadian Huseyin Celil
The Chinese authorities accused Huseyin of offences related to his activities in support of Uighur rights. They held Huseyin in a secret place. They gave him no access to a lawyer, to his family, or to Canadian officials. They threatened him and forced him to sign a confession. They refused to recognize Huseyin’s status as a Canadian citizen, and they did not allow Canadian officials to attend his trial. It was not conducted fairly, and resulted in a sentence of life in prison in China. His life sentence was reduced to 20 years in February 2016. Huseyin has spent much of his time in solitary confinement. He lacks healthy food and is in poor health. Kamila needs her husband, and the boys need their father back.
Canada must act to end Islamophobia in Xinjiang, China
There is credible evidence that up to one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other mainly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are being detained in secret internment camps. Detainees are brainwashed, tortured and are forced to renounce their religion and culture.

And send a message to Chrystia Freeland demanding that Canada actively support an independent and unrestricted international fact-finding initiative to Xinjiang.

Stop CSIS from targeting everyday citizens & community groups
A recent report revealed that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, collected over 8,000 pages of documents, spying on citizens like you, people who exercise their democratic rights by attending a community meeting at a local church or taking peaceful action for what they believe in. And CSIS shared this info with Big Oil corporations.

Sign this petition to tell the govt to stop using taxpayer money to unconstitutionally spy on Canadians part of peaceful community groups.
Stop Facial Recognition in Canada
Facial recognition is invasive, biased and unreliable. But Canadian law enforcement and agencies have started using the tech despite its dangers. Canada’s out-of-date privacy laws don’t yet cover facial recognition tech, leaving our government free to experiment on us with no oversight or regulations. We need to slam the brakes on this dangerous technology before it’s too late. Demand a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies and a full review of our privacy laws now.

Five Eyes: Save encryption
Ministers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. have gone public with their plans for a huge attack on our personal security.

They want to force companies to crush the encryption that protects our private data and messages. But ordinary people need and use encryption every day, in everything from online banking to personal messaging in apps like WhatsApp.

Tell ministers to stop their attacks, and commit to protecting our privacy and security.
Your phone is not safe at the border
Canada’s border agents can search your phone and laptop at borders and airports, including looking through your private photos, personal messages, and call history.

These ‘digital strip searches’ are allowed because our laws are incredibly out of date. But politicians are refusing to update them for our digital age.

Fight back with us: demand updated laws , learn more about your rights, and make a complaint if your privacy has been violated at the border.
Call on Justin Trudeau to ensure justice for Abousfian Abdelrazik
In September 2003, Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan, while he was back in the country visiting his ailing mother. Over the next three years he was imprisoned for nearly 20 months and was held under house arrest for 12 months. He was denied a lawyer, and was never charged or brought before a judge. During that time he was badly tortured in three different prisons. Not only did Canada fail to take steps to protect him, CSIS officials frequently obstructed efforts to secure his release.
Make January 29 a National Day
On Jan. 29, 2017, a lone gunman entered a mosque in Quebec City and opened fire on dozens of Muslim-Canadian worshipers. By the time the shooting had ended, six had been tragically killed, and 19 more injured. 

 W e, citizens and residents of Canada, call on the government of Canada to henceforth designate January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination or a National Day of Action against Hate and Intolerance .
Freedom of expression
Liberté d'expression

Les opinions exprimées ne reflètent pas nécessairement les positions de la CSILC - The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of ICLMG.
to our amazing supporters!
We would like to thank all our member organizations, and the hundreds of people who have supported us over the years, including on Patreon ! As a reward, we are listing below our patrons who give $10 or more per month (and wanted to be listed) directly in the News Digest. Without all of you, our work wouldn't be possible!

Kathryn Dingle
Mary Ann Higgs
Kevin Malseed
Brian Murphy
Karen Seabrooke
Colin Stuart
Bob Thomson
James Turk
Jo Wood
The late Bob Stevenson

Nous tenons à remercier nos organisations membres ainsi que les centaines de personnes qui ont soutenu notre travail à travers les années, y compris sur Patreon ! En récompense, nous nommons ci-dessus nos mécènes qui donnent 10$ ou plus par mois et voulaient être mentionné.es directement dans la Revue de l'actualité. Sans vous tous et toutes, notre travail ne serait pas possible!