International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
13 décembre 2019
The News Digest will resume in January. La Revue sera de retour en janvier.
Press conference: Minister Champagne: Bring back Canadian Yasser Albaz!
ICLMG 11/12/2019 - On Wednesday December 11, we were at the press gallery to call on the Foreign Affairs Minister to return from his trip to Egypt with Yasser Albaz.

Albaz is a Canadian citizen who had been detained without charge since February. He is forced to sleep on the cold concrete in a small cell he shares with 17 other men. His health is deteriorating. He should not be in prison. The Minister must secure his release and bring Yasser back home with him. Watch - Visionner + Share on Twitter + Instagram

Open letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair: The Liberal Government Must Stop Mohamed Harkat’s Deportation to Torture
ICLMG, Amnesty International Canada and the National Council of Canadian Muslims have co-signed this open letter endorsed by 19 other organizations and individuals.
ICLMG 10/12/2019 - Dear Minister Blair, Today is December 10, International Human Rights Day. Ironically, it also marks the 17th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously undermined his fundamental rights.

We believe it is urgent that you act on Mr. Harkat’s case. Having been recognized as a refugee in Canada, Mr. Harkat has lived here for 24 years without ever being charged or convicted of a crime. Yet, because of the security certificate based on secretive information of questionable origin, Mr. Harkat continues to face deportation to Algeria where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.

Our organizations have long decried the use of security certificates, which undermine the rights of the targeted individual by allowing information not normally considered “evidence” to be used against them, and preventing them or their counsel from accessing the whole case brought against them – essentially eliminating any hope of mounting an adequate and full defense. We believe that security certificates should ultimately be eradicated from Canada’s legal system [...]

More immediately, we are writing because, as the new Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Harkat’s fate is in your hands. Under section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister of Public Safety is granted the power to allow Mr. Harkat to stay in Canada where it is not contrary to the national interest. The courts have consistently relaxed Mr. Harkat’s bail conditions over the years, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service did not deem it necessary to file a risk assessment at Mr. Harkat’s bail hearing in the fall of 2017. As his work colleagues and supporters have attested, and as court assessments and psychiatrists have demonstrated, Mr. Harkat is committed to leading a peaceful life and letting him stay would not be contrary to Canada’s interests. Moreover, deporting a man to a risk of imprisonment and torture is clearly against Canada’s national interest, as well as its international obligations. Read more - Lire plus + Share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

What we've been up to in 2019! End-of-Year Summary
ICLMG 09/12/2019 - 2019 has been very busy, and we are looking at a busy year 2020! Before giving you the summary of what we've been up to in the second half of 2019, here are a few things we will do in 2020:

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

  • We will continue to push for a strong and effective review mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, as it violates mobility rights and due process, 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, as it violates both our rights and Canada’s sovereignty.

Matthew Behrens: A forgotten Canadian returns home from the war on terror 12/12/2019 - Canadian Khalid Awan paid one of the heaviest imaginable prices for the system of racial profiling, mass arrests and indefinite detentions, and deportations that targeted South-Asian, Arabic and Muslim (or perceived Muslim) communities after the attacks of September 11, 2011.Awan, an immigration consultant who happened to be working out of his U.S. office in New York City on 9/11, spent 17 years behind bars in some of the worst American prisons because he was Muslim, because he refused to spy for the FBI, and because Canadian officials appear to have done next to nothing to stand up for his rights as he was being railroaded through a terror-obsessed America that included years in the notorious "Little Guantanamo" isolation units in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In fact, far from being a disinterested bystander, Canada appears to have gone along with the persecution of Awan through the self-admitted complicity of the RCMP and the FBI, which threatened Awan with death by lethal injection, told him his sisters and wife would be arrested, and also claimed they could send him to be tortured in India. But while Awan was finally able to return to Canada in 2018, this devastating chapter in his life will not be closed until he can get some answers and generate systemic changes to ensure what happened to him does not happen to anyone else. He has launched a fundraising campaign (details below) to hire a civil lawyer to take on his case. Awan believes strongly that the failure of Global Affairs officials to properly exercise their responsibilities for a detained Canadian abroad -- not to mention one facing terror-related allegations -- has far-reaching consequences for anyone who travels outside the country and whose heritage or religion automatically places them at higher risk given the global panopticon of databases containing false, inflammatory, racially profiled bits of information shared by Canada's state security agencies with the world's most repressive governments.

Like tens of thousands of Muslims detained after 9/11, the Pakistani-born Awan was targeted by officials whose racial profiling resulted in his extraordinary and violent takedown arrest and detention in October 2001. This dramatic police action was designed to compel his appearance as a "material witness" at the grand jury investigating Osama bin Laden's involvement in the attacks (a simple subpoena would have done the trick).
Never charged in connection with 9/11, Awan was long denied the opportunity to see the affidavit that was used to justify the 2001 arrest warrant in his case. A Federal Court judge ordered its release in 2014, noting that "the requirement that arrest books be open to the public is to prevent any 'secret arrests,' a concept odious to a democratic society." But an FBI that has never had compunctions about being odious to democracy was unwilling to accept that ruling, and went to another court to seek and ultimately receive what appears to be a permanent sealing order.

Following a rigorous grand jury investigation and endless questioning, Awan was cleared of any 9/11 allegations and preparing for his release from detention in November 2001 when he was re-arrested, this time for alleged credit card fraud tied to his immigration business. Awan maintained the charges were bogus, as he wasn't even in the United States at the time of the alleged offences, no former client or bank made a claim against him, and the FBI failed to question a single one of the clients allegedly involved. Already traumatized by having been disappeared from the streets of New York City, Awan took the advice of a lawyer who said that, as a Muslim in those fearful days, he was unlikely to get a fair shake from a jury, and would do better to plead guilty. Awan says he entered a plea bargain, which guaranteed no future charges would be brought against him, in exchange for upwards of two years behind bars. But that agreement was not honoured, and instead, he received five years.

His fate was similar to that of many post-9/11 detainees, who often suddenly faced immigration and/or misdemeanour charges prior to release, as authorities sought to justify the original, unwarranted, illegal detention without charge. Such charges were useful because they conveniently fell under the umbrella of "anti-terrorism" statistics, making it look like the government was "securing the homeland." Indeed, Awan's journey was consistent with the findings of an extensive 2014 study, Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Pre-emptive Prosecution , which found: "that there have been remarkably few actual terrorism threats to this country in the last decade…the war on terror has been largely a charade designed to make the American public believe that a terrorist army is loose in the U.S., when the truth is that most of the people convicted of terrorism-related crimes posed no danger to the U.S. and were entrapped by a preventive strategy known as preemptive prosecution…The vast majority of arrests in the war on terror have consisted of:
• the FBI foiling its own entrapment plots; or
• the government arresting people on material support for terrorism charges that effectively criminalize innocent conduct, such as charitable giving and management, free speech, free association, peace-making, and social hospitality; or
• inflation of minor or technical incidents into terrorism events, such as immigration application inaccuracies, old weapons charges, or inaccurate statements to governmental officials." Read more - Lire plus
Transport Canada investigates 'racist' song shared in no-fly list office - 10 years after the fact
CBC 11/12/2019 - It took Transport Canada a decade to launch an investigation into a claim that a song parody with "racist" and "violent" lyrics about turban-wearing travellers was shared via email within the department that oversees Canada's no-fly list. According to a March briefing note released to CBC News under access to information law, a Transport Canada official last year looked into whether the email from 2008 undermined the integrity of Transport Canada's involvement in the no-fly list program, which is meant to stop identified terrorist threats from boarding flights.
The government says it will not publicly release the results of the investigation, citing its legal obligations under the Privacy Act.

Meanwhile, the woman who first brought the incident to Transport Canada's attention a decade ago told CBC News she watched her 17-year career as a federal public servant fall apart as the coworker who shared the song was promoted. "I'm absolutely disgusted," Renée Soeterik told CBC News. "The email contained an extremely racist, vitriolic and hate-filled ... satirical rendition. "The individual who sent this email and the individuals who covered it up, have responsibilities dealing with the public directly. And dealing stakeholders in an airport environment and in a security environment." Soeterik said she complained about the email to senior management for years — but Transport Canada only launched an investigation after Amnesty International Canada became interested in the case last year. "It's astounding and deeply troubling to me, to think that no one would have taken action at the time," said Amnesty's secretary general Alex Neve. "This should have happened 10 years ago. It should have not taken a decade." [...] CBC News has viewed a copy of the email in question, which states that it was sent by Mark Haynes on Sept. 3, 2008. According to Soeterik and a LinkedIn profile under the name Mark Haynes, he was a superintendent at Transport Canada's aviation security office in Toronto. [...]

Toronto lawyer John Phillips worked with Soeterik to help her leave Transport Canada in 2017. Phillips also represented former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, who was given a $10.5 million settlement payment by the Trudeau government in 2017. Phillips said the "very racist diatribe" sent to Transport Canada employees horrified him. Any organization can have bad actors in its ranks, he said, but the fact the email was sent out to multiple people — including managers — without blowback suggests a problem with the department's culture. Phillips said he's bothered most by the fact that none of the other email recipients spoke up. [...]

Until 2018, Haynes was the Transport Canada manager at the Ottawa Airport. He's currently working with Global Affairs Canada as a senior liaison officer in Zambia, that department confirms. He's on a secondment to improve women's participation in international police peacekeeping operations, according to his LinkedIn profile. "It's beyond belief," said Soeterik about Haynes' new job. "The government would rather move these individuals around like pieces on a chessboard than deal with systemic sexism and racism in the government. "The individuals who covered that up, they've all since been promoted and I'm out here in the cold. I'm fending for myself and making my way. These individuals are still padding their pensions." Read more - Lire plus
Open Letter to Law Enforcement in the U.S., UK, and Australia: Weak Encryption Puts Billions of Internet Users at Risk
ICLMG is one of the signatories to the open letter.
New America 10/12/2019 - International Coalition of 102 Civil Society Organizations, Tech Companies and Trade Associations, and Experts Call for Stronger Encryption. Today, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), along with 101 other signatories, released an open letter to law enforcement officials in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia expressing grave concerns with the countries’ recent statements about encryption. These officials penned a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on October 4, 2019 asking Facebook to delay the implementation of end-to-end encryption across its messaging services, something the company announced it was planning last March.

Our diverse and global coalition of civil society organizations, tech companies and trade associations, and security researchers has come together to urge these three governments to abandon their misguided efforts to weaken encryption. If Facebook were to fulfill their request, this would endanger the security and privacy of billions of internet users around the world. Strong encryption is essential for national security and public safety, and exceptional access mechanisms—commonly referred to as “backdoors”—would create significant security risks, which in turn, threaten human rights. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia have all taken steps to undermine encryption in the past, and are using exaggerated claims that encryption is an insurmountable hurdle to law enforcement in order to pressure Facebook to make individuals less secure. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing to discuss the issues surrounding encryption and law enforcement access. We want to take this opportunity to urge lawmakers more broadly to support companies’ efforts to further encrypt their services, and to reject law enforcement attempts to weaken encryption for all users. Read more - Lire plus

UN assistant secretary general for human rights: The Children of ISIS Don’t Belong in Cages, Either
The New York Times 09/12/2019 - Children peer out from behind the bars into the light, scarred by intense trauma and uncertain of their future, terrified both of their prison and the outside world. The  images and stories  of these youngsters, robbed of their childhood by the extreme violence of life under the Islamic State, are harrowing. Many are unaccompanied, the large majority are under 12. They now find themselves abandoned in appalling conditions in rudimentary camps in Syria. Governments have to do better: This is not the way to treat children who are also victims of terrorism. Nor is it effective counterterrorism policy.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children with an alleged connection to the Islamic State are currently held in camps in northeastern Syria. Most are Iraqis and Syrians, but there are also thousands from some 70 other countries. The situation is tense, and fears have grown recently that remnants of the Islamic State will attack the camps in order to free the actual terrorists. With notable exceptions, most governments have been slow or reluctant to take back their own nationals, citing security risks and the challenges they face identifying nationalities, gathering admissible evidence to prosecute, and developing reintegration programs. Governments clearly have legitimate security concerns: The fight with the Islamic State is not over. And some of those in the camps — men and women — are hardened fighters who have committed horrifying crimes and must be brought to justice. But it is wrong to leave the countries and communities of this conflict-battered region to bear such a large burden of this fight. Governments in the rest of the world can demonstrate solidarity in countering terrorism by at least taking responsibility for their own nationals. [...]

A number of governments have been more forward-thinking: Kazakhstan and Kosovo, for example, have taken back hundreds of women and children, and some men. Other countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Tunisia and Britain have accepted back individual children, sometimes with their mothers. But this is simply not enough. In the course of many United Nations postings over 30 years, mostly in countries confronting a terrorist threat, I’ve always been struck by how often governments pursue counterterrorism campaigns in such a brutal way that the result has been to create more terrorists. As we survey the illegalities, barbarities and strategic blunders that marked the ill-named “global war on terror” after the attacks of Sept. 11, there can be little doubt that counterterrorism can only succeed if it is based on human rights. We should start with an approach to foreign nationals in Syria that ensures accountability, while giving these children some hope, dignity and whatever remains of their childhood. Read more - Lire plus

Washington Post: Top US officials repeatedly misled public about Afghanistan War
CNN 09/12/2019 - Confidential documents obtained by  The Washington Post  reveal that top US officials misled the American public about the  war in Afghanistan  in order to conceal doubts about the likelihood that the US could be successful in the nearly 20-year effort since its earliest days, the paper reported in a major investigation on Monday.

The Post said it obtained the more than 2,000 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information Act request made three years ago that sought to win access to the documents, which it said were part of a lengthy government report titled "Lessons Learned" that examined "the root failures" of the war effort through interviews with more than 600 people, including a number of foreigners connected to NATO and 20 Afghan officials. The first interviews for the report were conducted in 2014, according to the Post, which said seven parts of the report have been published since 2016. The paper said the interviews "bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day" as "U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation." "Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public," the Post reported. "They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case." [...]

The Post, which said its investigation includes information from previously unreported memos written between 2001 and 2006 by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, noted that the newly disclosed Defense documents "broadly resembles the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's top-secret history of the Vietnam War" because of the candor in the accounts included in both collections of documents. Most of those interviewed assumed that their remarks would not become public, the paper said. In one such case, the Post said Douglas Lute, "a three-star Army general who served as the White House's Afghan war czar" under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told interviewers "we were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan -- we didn't know what we were doing." "What are we trying to do here? We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking," Lute said in 2015, according to the Post.

In another example, Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, bemoaned the cost of the war to interviewers, asking, "What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?" the Post said. "After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan," the former SEAL said, according to the paper. The Post said that in one of Rumsfeld's memos, the former Pentagon chief wrote: "I may be impatient. In fact I know I'm a bit impatient ... We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave." "Help!" he wrote in the memo, according to the paper. Read more - Lire plus

Amnesty International USA Calls for Declassification and Full Release of Torture Report
Amnesty USA 09/12/2019 - December 9 marks the 5-year anniversary of the release of an executive summary of the United States Senate report on Central Intelligence Agency torture of people who it had detained, many of whom are still in detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba today.

On this anniversary, Amnesty International USA is calling for the so-called “Torture Report” to be fully declassified and released, and for all those responsible to finally be held accountable. “The pain and suffering that the United States inflicted on detainees continues to haunt this country, years later,” said Daphne Eviatar, Director of the Security With Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA. “The full truth about the abuses committed still have not seen the light of day and even worse, some of those guilty of supporting these crimes have been promoted to high-ranking posts within our government. We deserve to know in full what was done and must hold those responsible accountable. Sweeping this dirty past under the rug gives a green light to those tempted to engage in such atrocities again.” Read more - Lire plus

Ahmed Rabbani: I’m innocent but still in Guantánamo because Trump is denying me justice
The Guardian 05/12/2019 - tuck in Guantánamo Bay detention camp, year after year, I often wonder if I will ever get my “day in court”. Not as a defendant – I have never been charged with a crime – but as a claimant seeking redress for the torture and mistreatment I have suffered at the hands of the US and its allies.Today my lawyers are at least getting a hearing at the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague. The ICC’s prosecutor wants to investigate crimes against humanity committed during the Afghan war. In April, ICC judges decided an investigation would “not serve the interests of justice”. This came after the US revoked the prosecutor’s visa.

This week’s hearing is a chance to appeal against April’s decision. Many people want to keep their names confidential. I have waived anonymity as I am willing to stand up against the world’s most powerful people and demand justice. I only ask that the ICC does the same. The ICC said in April that it would not proceed, partly because any prosecution would be unsuccessful because the United States, Afghanistan and the Taliban would not cooperate. In reality, it looks like the court succumbed to US pressure: the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the decision to refuse visas to the prosecutor and other ICC staff was “part of the [US’s] continued effort to convince [the court] to change course”. John Bolton even threatened “sanctions”. I have trodden a very long road in search of justice since I was taken from my wife and my infant son in Karachi in 2002 by Pakistan’s intelligence service. I was tortured by the Pakistanis, who tried to get me to “admit” that I was Hassan Ghul, a notorious member of al-Qaida. Naturally, I refused.

When I was sold to the US for a bounty, I thought the situation would change. I told my American interrogators the truth: I was a taxi driver, a victim of mistaken identity. I expected justice immediately. Instead they sent me to a notorious CIA black site in Kabul where I was tortured for over 540 days and nights. Their methods included severe physical abuse and sleep deprivation. When I was eventually moved in 2004 to the US prison at Bagram airbase, in Afghanistan, the Red Cross was allowed to visit, and I thought again it might be time for everyone to accept that a big mistake had been made. Instead all I got was months more abuse, followed by a one-way ticket, in shackles, to Guantánamo Bay. [...] My lawyers tell me there is a section of the ICC website titled “defendants at large”, which includes militia members, politicians and terrorists. The names of the people who tormented me should be added to that list. Perhaps Trump himself should be included, since his administration has been “perverting the course of justice” by interfering. It would be an affront to justice were the ICC to bow to his wishes. Read more - Lire plus
D.C. Circuit Considers Limits on Guantanamo Detention
Just Security 11/12/2019 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments today in Abdul Razak Ali v. Trump, a case whose central question is whether the Due Process Clause applies to limit the length of detention at Guantanamo Bay. Forty men remain detained at Guantanamo Bay, but only nine have been charged or convicted. Five of those 40 have been cleared for transfer, but they remain detained with no apparent chance of release. Appellant Ali, who has been detained at Guantanamo without charge or trial for more than 17 years, argues that:
  • The Constitution’s Due Process Clause applies at Guantanamo.
  • D.C. Circuit precedent does not foreclose the application of the Due Process Clause.
  • Ali’s continuing detention violates due process.
  • The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force limits continuing detention at Guantanamo.

Judges Judith W. Rogers, Patricia A. Millet, and A. Raymond Randolph will hear the arguments. The appellant’s brief is available here , and the government’s brief is here .
Several friends of the court submitted amicus briefs in the case, as well. The amicus brief of my organization, Human Rights First, explains why the Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Board (PRB), the discretionary administrative review body that decides whether to clear a Guantanamo detainee for release or transfer, is inherently limited and woefully flawed. The PRB, which has become a “ one-way ratchet ” for continued detention, is not charged with reviewing the legality of an individual’s continued detention under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force or laws of war, let alone the Constitution, highlighting the need for meaningful judicial review in Guantanamo cases.

Human Rights First has served as an independent observer of the PRBs since 2014, tracking and analyzing the proceedings at the Pentagon since shortly after they began. Another brief , submitted by Guantanamo detainees Tofiq Nasser Awad al Bihani and Abdul Latif Nasser, highlights the situation of the individuals whom the government continues to detain at Guantanamo Bay, despite the executive branch clearing them for release. Their cases, they argue, demonstrate “how deferring to the whims of the political branches in such a situation leads to absurd, arbitrary, and unconscionable results,” and that “[t]he only way for such results to be avoided is for the Court to apply reasonable procedural and substantive due process safeguards to Guantánamo.” Read more - Lire plus
John Kiriakou: Those Torture Drawings in the NYT
Consortium News 12/12/2019 - With that said, the Times article, although revelatory in terms of Abu Zubaydah’s personal story, was woefully inadequate. It never mentioned, for example, how the Obama administration did literally nothing to make any of this right. Remember former President Barack Obama’s decision to hold no one accountable for the torture program and instead “look forward, not backward?”  That didn’t serve justice. It just protected the torturers and the criminals who supported them. Remember the promise to close Guantanamo? It never happened. 

And what about that Senate’s torture report? We talk about “the Senate torture report” like we actually know what was in it. We don’t. The 5,500-page report was never released. Instead, after a battle royal with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Obama finally allowed only a heavily redacted version, less than 700 pages, of the report’s executive summary to see the light of day. And all of that happened after then-CIA Director and Obama loyalist John Brennan ordered CIA officers to secretly hack into the SSCI’s computer system to see what committee investigators were up to. Of course, no charges for that were ever filed. 

Abu Zubaydah has been in U.S. custody for a long time. It’s already been nearly 18 years. I know. I captured him on the night of March 22, 2002, in an al-Qaeda safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan. We were convinced at the time that he was the third-ranking person in al-Qaeda. That was wrong. He was certainly a bad man. He had founded both of al-Qaeda’s training camps in southern Afghanistan and he had also created an al-Qaeda safe house in Peshawar, Pakistan, called the “House of Martyrs.” Want to go to Afghanistan to make jihad? Call Abu Zubaydah. Already in Afghanistan and you want to go home? Call Abu Zubaydah. But he was not the No. 3. He had never even joined al-Qaeda. And he had never pledged fealty to Osama bin Laden.

A Pakistani policeman shot and severely wounded Abu Zubaydah on the night we captured him. He was then transported to a secret CIA prison to recover and to be tortured. As you can imagine, he confessed to a wide variety of terrorism-related crimes, whether he had actually committed them or not. A torture victim will tell his torturer literally anything just to make the torture stop. None of that information, because it was collected illegally, is admissible in a court of law. And so, Abu Zubaydah, like every other Guantanamo detainee with the dubious exception of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, sits in solitary confinement year after year without ever having been charged with a crime.

There is only one way out of this national embarrassment. Abu Zubaydah has a constitutional right to face his accusers in a court of law. He has a right to be tried by a jury of his peers. If he is not charged — if he cannot be charged — with a crime, he must be released. That’s the law. It’s the American way. Former President George W. Bush got us into this situation by allowing the likes of his Vice President Dick Cheney to run the country. Barack Obama did nothing to improve the situation. Indeed, he sided with the CIA at every opportunity. President Donald Trump (who has publicly supported torture), well… it’s not even worth having that conversation. But the bottom line is that what Abu Zubaydah and others have endured in secret prisons and at Guantanamo is not the American way. It’s not constitutional. It’s not legal. We have to correct this immediately.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program. Read more - Lire plus

China: Government must show proof that Xinjiang detainees have been released
Amnesty International 09/12/2019 - Responding to a claim by a Chinese government official that all people held at so-called “vocational education centres” in Xinjiang have “graduated” and achieved “stable employment” and “happy lives”, Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director at Amnesty International, said: “While this may sound like progress, it’s more likely just the Chinese propaganda machine’s latest attempt to shift the narrative on its horrendous human rights violations in Xinjiang in the face of growing international condemnation.

“If Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities are really being released from these repressive detention camps, then the onus is on the Chinese government to prove it. Otherwise the claim that former ‘trainees’ are now in ‘stable employment’ leaves them at an extremely high risk of being subjected to forced labour. The government should at the very least allow independent UN experts to assess the situation and allow Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities to freely communicate with their relatives overseas. Until now, this is something the authorities have repeatedly refused to do. As ever, it's almost impossible to independently verify the Chinese government’s claims given the extreme constraints to reporting in the region and the authorities’ attempts to cut it off from the outside world.” Read more - Lire plus
Aung San Suu Kyi impassive as genocide hearing begins
The Guardian 10 /12/2019 - Aung San Suu Kyi has sat impassively through graphic accounts of mass murder and rape perpetrated by Myanmar’s military at the start of a three-day hearing into allegations of genocide at the UN’s highest court. “I stand before you to awaken the conscience of the world and arouse the voice of the international community,” Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, the Gambia’s attorney general and justice minister, said as he opened his country’s case against Myanmar at the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague. “In the words of Edmund Burke: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

“Another genocide is unfolding right before our eyes yet we do nothing to stop it,” he said. “This is a stain on our collective conscience. It’s not only the state of Myanmar that is on trial here, it’s our collective humanity that is being put on trial.” Before dawn on Tuesday, a long queue had formed outside the Peace Palace in the Dutch city to witness the first of three days of hearings that will focus attention on military clearance operations in 2017 against the Rohingya Muslim minority, 700,000 of whom were forced to flee across the border to neighbouring Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi , Myanmar’s state counsellor and effective prime minister, is expected to defend her country’s military on Wednesday by arguing that the operations were a legitimate counter-terrorism response to attacks by Rohingya militants. [...]

The case has been brought by the Gambia, a predominantly Muslim west African state that alleges Myanmar has breached the 1948 genocide convention enacted after the Holocaust. The Gambia’s claim states that Myanmar has perpetrated “manifest” contraventions of the convention through the acts of its military, and continues to do so. Those acts, the court was told, included “extrajudicial killings, rape or other forms of sexual violence, burning of homes and destruction of livestock … calculated to bring about a destruction of the Rohingya group in whole or in part”. Read more - Lire plus

Ontario Parliamentarian Follows in Trump’s Footsteps, Introduces Bill Equating Criticism of Israel with Antisemitism
IJV 11/12/2019 - Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is dismayed to see that efforts to brand criticism of Israel as antisemitic have made a return to Queen’s Park today. Will Bouma, Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament for Brantford-Brant, introduced a Private Member’s Bill this afternoon calling for the adoption of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. The Bill, entitled An Act to Combat Antisemitism , would require the Ontario government to be guided by the IHRA definition as well as its examples. It would also amend a previous bill, the similarly intended Standing up Against Anti-Semitism in Ontario Act of 2016 , to include the IHRA definition. 

The IHRA definition has been strongly criticized by prominent civil rights groups , the Federal NDP as well as dozens of Jewish organizations , for conflating legitimate political opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict with antisemitism. Efforts to adopt the definition are widely viewed as attempts to silence the growing movement for Palestinian rights, especially on college and university campuses. The Ontario Bill comes after US President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he would be issuing an executive order to adopt the IHRA definition. Trump’s order would also empower the US Education Department to withhold funding to educational programs that are perceived as overly critical of Israel. 

“Just a day after Donald Trump announced his decree to adopt the IHRA redefinition of antisemitism, the Ford Conservatives are riding the wave and hoping to pull something similar off in Ontario,” said Sheryl Nestel, a member of IJV’s Steering Committee based in Toronto. “Make no mistake, this Bill has very little to do with protecting Jews from antisemitism and a whole lot to do with shutting down the growing movement for Palestinian human rights. It’s ironic, though sadly not surprising, that both the Ford and Trump administrations are the ones leading this McCarthyist crusade against critics of Israel, all the while claiming to champion free speech.”

If adopted, Ontario would become the first Canadian legislative body to adopt the IHRA redefinition. In June it was adopted by Heritage Canada as part of its “Anti-racism Strategy”. Subsequent efforts to have it adopted by municipal councils in Vancouver and Calgary have since failed or been postponed on account of widespread public opposition led by IJV and its allies. Read more - Lire plus
US plans to introduce facial scanning for all travellers
Airport Technology 03/12/2019 - The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reportedly planning to introduce facial scanning for all travellers entering and exiting the country. The regulation, which includes US citizens and foreign travellers, is expected to put a check on the illegal use of travel documents and identify criminals and terrorists. US citizens and permanent residents currently have the option of refusing biometric scans at airports. With the new regulation, the exemption will be removed for all travellers.

American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst Jay Stanley was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Travellers, including US citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel.” The DHS had previously proposed the changes and stated that it is ‘required by statute to develop and implement a biometric entry-exit data system’. The government agency has existing plans to install biometric scanners at 20 of the country’s largest airports by 2021. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started programmes to obtain the photographs and fingerprints of foreign travellers. Read more - Lire plus

Social Media Vetting of Visa Applicants Violates the First Amendment
Just Security 06/12/2019 - Since May, the State Department has required almost everyone applying for a U.S. visa—more than 14 million people each year—to register every social media handle they’ve used over the past five years on any of 20 platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The information collected through the new registration requirement is then retained indefinitely, shared widely within the federal bureaucracy as well as with state and local governments, and, in some contexts, even disseminated to foreign governments. The registration requirement chills the free speech of millions of prospective visitors to the United States, to their detriment and to ours.

On Thursday, on behalf of two U.S.-based documentary film organizations, the Knight First Amendment Institute and the Brennan Center for Justice sued to stop this policy, arguing that it violates the First Amendment as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. The plaintiffs, Doc Society and the International Documentary Association (IDA), rely on social media to support and engage with filmmakers from around the world. They also host events in the United States to connect those filmmakers with funders, advocates, and other partners. The registration requirement impedes these efforts by chilling foreign filmmakers’ online expression and by discouraging them from traveling to the United States to attend Doc Society’s and IDA’s events here.

The registration requirement dramatically deters visa applicants from speaking freely and associating with others online. The plaintiffs’ members and partners use social media to discuss an array of social and political issues, including corruption, human rights atrocities, women’s rights, climate change, racial injustice, and the global impact of U.S. policy. Now they must consider whether this kind of speech will lead U.S. officials to subject their visa applications to additional scrutiny, delay the processing of those applications, or deny the applications altogether. Because of the registration requirement, some Doc Society and IDA members and partners have stopped posting on social media, left online groups, stopped interacting with certain friends online, or deleted their social media posts or accounts completely.

The chilling effects of the registration requirement are particularly pronounced for individuals who use pseudonymous social media handles. Some plaintiffs’ members and partners use pseudonymous social media handles to conduct research in sensitive online communities, to avoid stalkers and trolls in public forums, to promote or participate in political demonstrations, or to speak out against their own governments. The registration requirement forces these individuals to surrender their anonymity and accept the risk that their handles will end up in the hands of rights-abusing governments , hackers, and others. Read more - Lire plus
Human Rights First Statement on 2020 NDAA
Human Rights First 11/12/2019 - In response to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees’ release of the final, conference-negotiated defense bill (National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 Fiscal Year, or “NDAA”), Human Rights First’s Sharon Kelly McBride issued the following statement:

“This bill falls short of what we need to bolster our national security through human rights-respecting policies. We are deeply disappointed that Congress dropped critical provisions in the House bill during conference negotiations, including sanctions for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, provisions that would pave the path to close Guantanamo, limits on war authorities, and restrictions on the use of the military for immigration detention. With an unprecedented assault on human rights from this administration, we need a Congress that will rise to the occasion and insist that our national defense is best served by policies that promote human dignity and universal values.

“The final bill does incorporate some important provisions, including much-needed transparency for civilian casualties, reporting requirements on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and additional visas and protections for wartime allies and other vulnerable immigrants.” While the final bill includes some important and meaningful legislation, many of the most critical provisions in the House bill were dropped. [...]

At the same time, the bill falls short on the issues of Guantanamo Bay and war authority. For example, against the advice of military leaders and national security experts, the bill retains the unnecessary and unhelpful restrictions on transfers of Guantanamo detainees to the United States, including for medical treatment or prosecution. The bill also disappointingly lost a chance to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)—the outdated and unused Iraq war authorization—and failed to codify the sense of Congress that the Afghanistan war authorization (2001 AUMF) has been abused to perpetuate endless and expansive wars.

Unfortunately, critical provisions that would limit the military’s role in immigration detention were dropped from the final bill. The bill does include 4,000 additional Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to protect wartime allies who are at risk of persecution for supporting American efforts overseas. The bill also codifies a “parole in place” policy to allow immigrant members of the military and their family members to apply for a status adjustment without having to leave the country. But overall, the defense bill was a huge missed opportunity to send a clear signal that our national security is best served by protecting refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants more generally. Read more - Lire plus
White House veterans helped Gulf monarchy build secret surveillance unit
Reuters 10 /12/2019 - In the years after 9/11, former U.S. counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke warned Congress that the country needed more expansive spying powers to prevent another catastrophe. Five years after leaving government, he shopped the same idea to an enthusiastic partner: an Arab monarchy with deep pockets. In 2008, Clarke went to work as a consultant guiding the United Arab Emirates as it created a cyber surveillance capability that would utilize top American intelligence contractors to help monitor threats against the tiny nation.

The secret unit Clarke helped create had an ominous acronym: DREAD, short for Development Research Exploitation and Analysis Department. In the years that followed, the UAE unit expanded its hunt far beyond suspected extremists to include a Saudi women’s rights activist, diplomats at the United Nations and personnel at FIFA, the world soccer body. By 2012, the program would be known among its American operatives by a codename: Project Raven. Reuters reports  this year revealed how a group of former National Security Agency operatives and other elite American intelligence veterans helped the UAE spy on a wide range of targets through the previously undisclosed program — from terrorists to human rights activists, journalists and dissidents.

Now, an examination of the origins of DREAD, reported here for the first time, shows how a pair of former senior White House leaders, working with ex-NSA spies and Beltway contractors, played pivotal roles in building a program whose actions are now under scrutiny by federal authorities. To chart the UAE spying mission’s evolution, Reuters examined more than 10,000 DREAD program documents and interviewed more than a dozen contractors, intelligence operatives and former government insiders with direct knowledge of the program. The documents Reuters reviewed span nearly a decade of the DREAD program, starting in 2008, and include internal memos describing the project’s logistics, operational plans and targets. Read more - Lire plus
UPDATED - Canada’s Extradition Act is in urgent need of reform. A recent “external review” of Dr. Hassan Diab’s extradition commissioned by the Minister of Justice does nothing to prevent future injustices like those suffered by Hassan. But we are not giving up! Here's what you can do:

1) Please write to Prime Minister Trudeau to demand an independent public inquiry into the extradition case of Hassan, and reform of Canada’s Extradition Act. You can send a message to Mr. Trudeau from the following web page:

2) Please call PM Trudeau ’s office at (613) 992-4211, and reiterate your message. Click on the take action button for a sample message. Thank you! Version française ici
***Please mention Michele (MM) in your emails and calls. She fought against extradition to the US for 8 years. Her "crime"? Saving her children from a violent father. After the Supreme Court recently refused to hear her case, she was found dead in her cell on November 5, 2019. This tragedy could have been avoided if the extradition law had been reformed and Justice Ministers had acted. This should never happen again. Facebook 1 + Facebook 2 + Radio-Canada + CBC
Send a letter opposing cameras in the ByWard Market
Send a letter in support of CAMS Ottawa's response to Mayor Watson. While we share concerns about ongoing violence in the Market, installing surveillance cameras is not an appropriate solution. The very premise that CCTV can deter violent crime is highly doubtful. Video surveillance also raise significant concerns regarding the treatment of marginalized members of our community. We urge you to take the above problems and the following evidence into consideration and reconsider implementing such an ineffective, costly, and intrusive system.
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.
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 agencies and law enforcement have started using the tech despite the huge controversies.
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 the spread of 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 — before it becomes entrenched as a surveillance method in Canada.
Release Yasser Albaz from arbitrary detention in Egypt
On February 18, 2019, my dad, Yasser Albaz, was stopped at Cairo airport, his Canadian passport was confiscated, and he was kidnapped by Egyptian State Security. My dad remains in the notorious Torah prison where he is forced to sleep on cold, concrete floor. He has not been charged and continues to receive 15-day extensions to his arbitrary detention.

Sign to tell PM Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to do everything in their power to bring this Canadian citizen home to his family.
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.
Free Ahmed Mansoor
Ahmed is an award winning human rights defender and blogger. The UAE has said Ahmed had been arrested for using his social media accounts to “publish false information that damages the country’s reputation” and to “spread hatred and sectarianism”. Right now, Ahmed is being held in solitary confinement and has not had access to a lawyer, an d he is on hunger strike. Act now and demand that the UAE release Ahmed immediately and unconditionally. TWITTER ACTION
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.
OPP must be held accountable for violent repression of land defenders
The terrifying incident happened in April 2008 during a land occupation and road blockades by members of Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation, near Belleville, Ontario. Although the road blockades involved only a small number of community members – none of whom were armed -- the Ontario Provincial Police sent more than 200 officers, including the Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU), tasked with responding to “the most serious threats to peace and order”. The UN Committee against Torture called on Canada to launch a thorough and impartial review to ensure accountability.
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.
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

Terror group designation
Désignation de groupe terroriste

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 our patrons who are supporting ICLMG on Patreon ! As a reward, we are listing our patrons who give $10 or more per month (and wanted to be listed) directly in the News Digest. Without you, our work wouldn't be possible!

Kathryn Dingle
Mary Ann Higgs
Kevin Malseed
Brian Murphy
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Nous tenons à remercier nos organisations membres et toutes les personnes qui soutiennent la CSILC sur Patreon ! En récompense, nous nommons ci-dessus nos mécènes qui donnent 10$ ou plus par mois directement dans le News Digest. Sans vous, notre travail ne serait pas possible!