International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
3 juillet 2020
Canada’s Slow-Drip Torture of Ottawa Refugee Mohamed Harkat
Homes Not Bombs 24/06/2020 - Later this week, human rights groups and individuals will mark the June 26 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture with an online writing/call-in  event.  For Ottawa’s Mohamed (Moe) Harkat – a much-loved refugee renowned for acts of kindness and community care, including installing seniors’ air conditioning units during the current heat wave – it will represent 6,048 days of fighting deportation to torture in Algeria.

It’s a Kafkaesque nightmare for Harkat that constitutes a form of psychological torture – also known as no-touch torture – that was  perfected  at Montreal’s McGill University during the 1950s. It is incomprehensible to imagine what it has been like for Moe and his wife Sophie, who have lived with this nightmare hanging over their heads since Moe was arrested on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2002.

To provide a framework for the damage that would be caused living under such conditions, the United Nations  warns  that after three months of lockdown and pandemic-related anxiety, the world faces a profound mental health crisis. While that crisis is real and must be addressed, multiply that three-month stretch of anxiety by 67 times, and that’s how long the Harkats have faced the unimaginable while surviving the completely unacceptable. Read more - Lire plus

Great news! Yasser Albaz Released and Reunited With His Family In Canada
Facebook 02/07/2020 - Yasser Albaz is back in Canada, after more than 16 months being imprisoned without charge in Egypt's notorious Torah prison. Our thoughts are with him as he now recovers, and with his family who fought so hard and for so long for his return, says Tim McSorley, ICLMG's National Coordinator.

It was their unrelenting campaigning, and the powerful words and work of Amal Ahmed Albaz, that led to Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Minister Champagne finally intervening and ensuring Yasser's return to Canada. Thank you also to our colleagues at the NCCM & Amnesty International Canada for their unwavering work raising awareness and bringing pressure to Parliament Hill, and to Ahmad Attia whose tireless campaigning led by example. We're proud to have worked side-by-side with all of you. Here is a message from Amal Albaz, Yasser's daughter:

We are happy to announce that Yasser Albaz has been released by Egyptian authorities and has arrived this morning at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Our family’s ordeal is finally coming to an end. We are extremely grateful for the support of our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Minister Anita Anand, Ambassador Jess Dutton, and supportive members of parliament and government staff. We are forever grateful for each and every person who supported our family. Yasser’s health has deteriorated and our top priority will be his much needed medical treatment. We ask that he be given time to quietly heal from this ordeal and spend quality time with his family. Source
Civil society groups’ joint statement – Too early to launch contact tracing apps
BC FIPA, CCLA, BCCLA, CIPPIC, ICLMG, and OpenMedia are calling for more research and analysis prior to the release of new federally approved contact tracing app
BC FIPA 24/06/2020 - On June 18, 2020 the federal government announced that a contact tracing app, “COVID Alert” will be available for Ontarians in July. The app will be in its testing phase, though the nature of testing remains unclear. BC FIPA, in collaboration with CCLA, BCCLA, CIPPIC, ICLMG, and OpenMedia have written a joint letter to the Prime Minister and First Ministers regarding serious concerns with the application’s implementation and operation at a regional and national level. The federal Privacy Commissioner’s office has not yet received the necessary information and access to the application in order to analyze and provide recommendations on it, nor has a Privacy Impact Assessment been completed or submitted to that office for review. It is highly concerning that a deployment date has been publicly announced before the federal Privacy Commissioner has been given the opportunity to comprehensively review the application and its privacy impacts.

We call on the federal government to provide the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and their provincial and territorial counterparts with the time necessary to fully analyze the application and release an assessment before the application is released to the public. In addition, prior to release, the privacy policy for the application must be clear, detailed, and understandable so users can provide informed and meaningful consent, as well as understand their privacy rights and protections. Lastly, all elements of the application’s source code must be released to the public so that the privacy and security of the initiative can be assessed. Read more - Lire plus

Canada is flouting its international human rights obligations toward Canadians who are arbitrarily detained in northeast Syria: Report
Human Rights Watch 29/06/2020 - More than one year ago, in March 2019, local fighters aided by a US-led, international coalition routed the Islamic State (ISIS) from the Syrian town of Baghouz, the last holdout of the group’s self-declared caliphate. In addition to capturing Syrians, the US-backed fighters, called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), rounded up thousands of others who had been living under ISIS—men, women, and children from more than 60 countries. Since then, these foreigners have been arbitrarily detained in filthy and often inhuman and life-threatening conditions by authorities in northeast Syria, with the tacit approval of the Global Coalition Against ISIS, whose members include Canada. The detainees include at least 47 Canadians.

Like the other foreigners, the Canadians—8 men, 13 women, and 26 children, most under age 6—have not been charged with any crime. Nor have northeast Syrian authorities brought them before a judge to review the legality and necessity of their detention. The innocent, such as the children who never chose to be born or live under ISIS, have no hope of leaving. Meanwhile, any detainees potentially implicated in ISIS crimes may never face justice. In makeshift prisons for men and adolescent boys, food is scarce and overcrowding is so severe that many of the detainees must sleep shoulder to shoulder. More than 100 prisoners and possibly several hundred have died, many from lack of care, since mid-2019. In locked camps for women, girls, and younger boys, tents collapse in strong winds or flood with rain or sewage. Some women, including at least one Canadian, say they are on an ISIS “kill list” for not supporting the group. Drinking water is often contaminated or in short supply. Latrines are overflowing, wild dogs scavenge mounds of garbage littering the grounds, and illnesses including viral infections are rampant. Medical care is grossly inadequate. The Kurdish Red Crescent reported that at least 517 people, 371 of them children, died in 2019, many from preventable diseases, in al-Hol—the larger of two camps for women and children, with about 65,000 detainees.

For months and in some cases years, the detained Canadians have been begging to come home, with many of the adults among them saying they are ready to stand trial for any suspected ISIS crimes. At the same time, family members in Canada have been beseeching the Canadian government to help them bring home their relatives. Four relatives even traveled to northeast Syria in failed quests to help their detained loved ones. The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration for Northeast Syria, which is detaining the foreigners, has repeatedly called on all countries to repatriate their nationals or provide them with funds to investigate and prosecute suspects locally. Canadian officials met the Autonomous Administration in 2018 to discuss repatriations, but Canada has yet to bring home or facilitate the return of any of its citizens—not even children like Amira, a 5-year-old orphan who said her parents and three siblings were killed in Baghouz during a 2019 air strike.

This report finds that the government of Canada is flouting its international human rights obligations toward Canadians who are arbitrarily detained in northeast Syria and providing inadequate support to family members seeking to provide their loved ones with essentials such as food and medicine, and to bring them home. The obligations that Canada has breached include taking necessary and reasonable steps to assist nationals abroad facing serious abuses including risks to life, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment.   
The report also finds that the Canadian government may be unlawfully withholding or limiting effective consular assistance to its citizens detained in northeast Syria based on their suspected links to ISIS. Family members of detainees told Human Rights Watch that Canadian authorities have not even contacted their detained relatives, much less improved their conditions of detention. Nor has Canada facilitated verification of citizenship for the 20 or more children born in Syria to Canadian parents, leaving them without an officially recognized nationality. Family members said the government will not even tell them whether they will be charged with support for terrorism if they send money to their detained relatives for food, medicine, and warm clothes. Read more - Lire plus

Police Forces in Canada Are Quietly Adopting Facial Recognition Tech
Vice 23/06/2020 - Police in York and Peel regions, both near Toronto, are buying controversial facial recognition software that will let cops compare photo and video evidence against a database of mugshots in the hopes of identifying suspected criminals. The impending purchase comes as protests against racism and police brutality continue across Canada and the U.S., with many activists calling for the  defunding of police . Research has shown that  facial recognition systems are racially biased .

In February,  York police admitted  members of the force had used a free trial of the powerful facial recognition app Clearview AI, which had  come under fire in the U.S.  for building a large database of photos of U.S. citizens not accused of any wrongdoing, and making that database searchable for the thousands of clients to whom it has already sold the technology. P ublic documents show that  York Regional Police budgeted $1.68 million in 2019 to pay for a “Facial Recognition and Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification System” over two years. VICE reached out to police in both regions to ask how the forces will use facial recognition. Police in York said they are in the process of buying the technology. Peel police confirmed they will have their own licence to use the system. Read more - Lire plus

Group calls on Canada to intervene as Philippines pushes ahead with draconian anti-terror law in the wake of damning UN human rights report
OCHRP 16/06/2020 - According to the report, despite a long-standing and robust tradition of human rights advocacy and activism in the Philippines, human rights defenders have been subject to verbal and physical attacks, threats and legal harassment for nearly 20 years. The report notes the vilification of dissent and attacks against perceived critics, which are “increasingly institutionalized and normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse.” The phenomenon of “red-tagging” or the labelling of individuals or groups (including human rights defenders and NGOs) as communists or terrorists has posed a serious threat to civil society and freedom of expression. Ongoing threats to freedom of expression, with legal charges and prosecutions being brought against journalists and senior politicians critical of the Government, as well as actions to shut down media outlets.

The report examined key national security laws and policies and their impact on human rights, particularly in the southern island of Mindanao and Negros Island, which have seen increased militarization through the imposition of emergency measures. The effect of this militarization – coupled with the long-standing presence of armed groups and the pressure by powerful landed elites and large business projects – is particularly dire on already embattled indigenous and farming communities. ICHRP Canada calls on the Canadian government to respond in the strongest and unequivocal terms to the subversion of human rights and democracy by the Duterte government by ending Canadian support for it.  Specifically, we call on the Canadian Government to: 

  • Publicly support the UNHCR process and investigation of human rights crimes in the Philippines under Duterte and actively lobby other governments to support the process.
  • Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines through the Parliamentary Human Rights Sub-committee during the current session of Parliament. 
  • Establish a Philippine Peace secretariat at Global Affairs Canada, including a Senior Peace Liaison officer to conduct liaison work between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).   The Peace Secretariat would support restarting discussions for some of the tables examining social and economic reforms as part of the peace process and provide logistical and research support to the two sides as well as host meetings in Canada for the discussion of technical issues. 
  • Play a facilitating role in the peace process between the Philippine government and the NDFP by removing the Communist Party of the Philippines and Jose Maria Sison from its own so called terrorist and proscribed lists (i.e. FINTRAC) and allow for safe passage of all NDFP negotiators to Canada in support of the Philippine Peace Process. 
  • Challenge the Duterte Regime on its abysmal human rights record with concrete and measurable steps. The Canadian government should make representation to the Duterte government to: reverse the terrorist listing of Indigenous and other civil society leaders; revoke Executive Order #70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation counterinsurgency approach; and stop the anti-terror legislation.

The Canadian government should end all Canadian support to the Duterte government, including financial, socio-economic programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defense cooperation. ICHRP Canada calls on the Canadian government to provide leadership in the international community to call the Philippine government to account for widespread and systemic human rights violations, and give substance to its own commitment to global human rights! Read more - Lire plus

Defunding the Police Must Include Ending the Surveillance of Muslims
The Intercept 25/06/2020 - The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, the ensuing uprisings, and the work of Black women abolitionists like  Mariame Kaba Ruth Wilson Gilmore , and Angela Davis have sparked a global conversation with demands to defund the police. The movement has focused primarily on state and local governments, which spend over $100 billion on policing every year, but has also set in its sights on  federal funding of law enforcement, most prominently a community policing program  known as COPS. There are less direct ways the federal government helps perpetuate dangerous policing programs, among them controversial Countering Violent Extremism grant programs that unnecessarily expose immigrant, Black Muslim communities, including Minneapolis’s Somali community, to law enforcement scrutiny. To defund the police, CVE programs must also come to an end.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security allocated a combined $20 million in 2016 and 2020 toward so-called Countering Violent Extremism programs that operate on the false assumption that Muslims are uniquely predisposed to commit violence and merit specialized government interventions. Under CVE models, First Amendment-protected activities like vocalizing opposition to U.S. foreign policy or attending a mosque are deemed “risk factors” and “indicators” of future acts of violence and are categorized as behaviors that the state must monitor. Under the guise of stopping violence, CVE programs insidiously target Muslim communities for police interactions and surveillance by local and federal law enforcement. Posing as a “community-partnership,” CVE programs have paired vulnerable Black Muslim youth with police officers, while simultaneously training police officers to pathologize dissent and criminalize mental health issues. [...]

Despite vast federal efforts and funding, researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice and  Duke’s Triangle Center   have concluded  there is no evidence that CVE programs actually prevent violence. Additionally, civil rights and community organizations have consistently opposed CVE programs,  noting  in  coalition letters  the stigma and harm that governmental targeting  causes  to already marginalized communities. This year, DHS rebranded the program as Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. TVTP  almost entirely replicates  the 2016 CVE grant program, including an additional $10 million in CVE grant funding. It separately allocates $70 million for additional federal law enforcement training, cybersecurity, and enhanced data collection. Muslim organizers are not fooled by the programs new name, and they  wrote to DHS  in June to again demand the program’s discontinuation.

The letter, which I wrote in conjunction with the Stop CVE Coalition, notes new and egregious privacy violations within the grant program application process. For example, any individual publicly affiliated with an organization applying to the grant  program is subject to  an investigation by DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. DHS’s over-broad interpretation of “affiliation” means that if a mosque were to apply for a grant, any individual who posted about their attendance at the mosque on social media has “tacitly accepted” the possibility they will be investigated; DHS’s intelligence arm could also share the results of the investigation with other DHS offices, all without notifying the subject. This distortion of security checks provides another opportunity for DHS to investigate an individual solely on account of the community spaces they frequent. CVE programs continue to funnel funds to police departments to interact with and monitor Black Muslim communities. The result: Local police departments are trained to view youth as would-be terrorists, criminalizing Black Muslim youth with federal dollars and remaking local law enforcement agencies into miniature national security agencies. Read more - Lire plus

Today's letters: Fix Canada's unjust extradition law
Ottawa Citizen 27/06/2020 - The Hassan Diab case proved that Canada’s extradition law is deeply flawed. Diab’s freedom was constrained for a decade; during that time he was extradited and spent more than three years languishing in a French jail. After all that, he was released without trial because the French could not even formulate a case against him. Everyone recognized that the case against Diab was unusually weak; the extradition judge was not allowed to take the weakness of the evidence into account. Canada’s extradition law should have been fundamentally revised immediately after Diab was released; it was a political decision not to do so.

Because of her wealth and influence, Meng is being treated far better than Diab was, but she is subject to the same flawed law. The United States, which wants to try her because her employer refuses to participate in its vendetta against Iran, has included fraud in the accusations – thereby assuring that she is accused of an act that is a crime in both the U.S. and Canada. It is clear that the real crime is trading with Iran but that would not pass the “double criminality” test. Both Meng and her employer contest the fraud charge, but, as was the case with Diab, the strength or weakness of the case is irrelevant.

The easiest way for a country to deprive someone of their freedom seems to be to ask for their extradition from Canada; no proof required. Diab lost a decade of his life because of our flawed law. We should not let that happen to anyone else. Dave Parnas, Ottawa. Read more - Lire plus

'Forgotten in a dark, cruel place': The two Michaels are not the only Canadians held as political prisoners by China
The Expositor 02/07/2020 - Through Huseyn Celil’s 14 long years of imprisonment in China, Kamila Talendibaeva has been unable to exchange so much as a word with her husband. But at least Celil’s relatives could visit him every six months or so and report back to the Toronto-area resident. Then, about three years ago, they, too, disappeared, probably into the vast system of re-education camps Beijing set up for its Uyghur minority. With them, the wife’s last life line to her spouse, a Canadian citizen like her, also vanished. Now Celil, a Uyghur activist jailed on dubious terrorism allegations, is an increasingly dim memory for their four sons, aged 14 to 20.

“It’s been really tough for us,” says Talendibaeva. “I always say ‘I wish he would come back and see you guys, how much you’ve grown.’ They are becoming adults and they haven’t seen their Dad since they were little.” The plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians detained by China in the wake of the arrest of a Huawei executive in Vancouver, has drawn increasing public and political attention. But largely forgotten in recent months are a group of Canadians, or people with strong blood ties to Canada, jailed for political and religious “crimes” long before the Huawei affair erupted, earlier reminders of Beijing’s routine trampelling of human rights. Their plight was underscored Tuesday when one of them, Canadian citizen Sun Qian, was hauled before the courts and sentenced to eight years in prison, essentially for following the banned Falun Gong movement.

Celil grew up in the Xinjiang region that is the homeland of China’s mostly Muslim Uyghur minority, and came to Canada with his wife as a refugee in the early 2000s. They were visiting her relatives in Uzbekistan in 2006 when that country’s government arrested Celil and handed him over to China, which eventually convicted him of terrorist activities. No evidence has ever come to light that supports those charges, his wife says, but as a rights advocate he was a thorn in China’s side. Nor has China allowed consular visits by this country’s diplomats, refusing to recognize his Canadian citizenship. Those relatives who used to visit Celil sometimes had grim news, reporting that the inmate received sub-standard food, was often kept in isolation and could not get access to needed medication, says Talendibaeva. She managed earlier this year to talk to Dominic Barton, Canada’s current ambassador to China, who assured her that every effort is being made to advocate for Celil. Yet, she feels Ottawa has fallen largely short on the file. “I was hoping for more from the Liberal government, but Trudeau hasn’t done anything,” said Talendibaeva. [...]

Wang, 72, studied for a PhD in experimental medicine at McGill University in the 1970s, with two of his three children born in Canada. His own parents and siblings later immigrated here and became citizens, says daughter Ti-Anna, who was named after Tiananmen Square in memory of the 1989 massacre there of democracy protesters. Helping found the overseas Chinese democracy movement, Wang worked largely in New York City and never became a Canadian citizen, believing that if he wanted to some day return to a democratic China, he could not abandon that citizenship, his daughter says. He was captured by Chinese secret police in Vietnam in 2002, spirited across the border and convicted at a one-day closed trial of spying and terrorism. There’s no evidence backing up either allegation, says Ti-Anna. She even met with a Thai police detective who investigated China’s charge that her father plotted to blow up its embassy in Bangkok, and concluded there was nothing to it. Barred from entering China, she has not seen her father since 2008. Only a few relatives are allowed in for rare visits. They report he is in poor health, increasingly depressed and anxious over his predicament. Read more - Lire plus
'Hong Kong people will fight on,' councillor says after national security law arrests
CBC 01/07/2020 - It's become much more dangerous to advocate for democracy and independence in Hong Kong — but Coun. Lo Kin-hei says people won't give up fighting for their rights.  Police in Hong Kong say at least 10 people have been arrested  so far under  the new national security law imposed by China  in response to last year's pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous region. The law makes secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities illegal, as well as foreign intervention in the region's internal affairs, and allows China to set up its own national security agency in Hong Kong.  Among those arrested were a man with a Hong Kong independence flag and a woman holding a sign displaying the British flag and calling for Hong Kong's independence. Others were detained for possessing items advocating independence. 

The law came into effect late Tuesday. The following day,  thousands took to the streets  to protest it and commemorate the 23rd anniversary of  the handover  — when Britain transferred sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997 under the condition that the region would maintain a degree of political independence. More than 300 protesters were arrested for other offences, such as unlawful gathering. Lo, a district councillor in Hong Kong and vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, spoke to As It Happens guest host Duncan McCue on Wednesday. Here is part of their conversation. 

The text of this law, it was just released last night. You've had a chance to read it now. What parts concern you? First of all, that there is a mechanism for ... the country and for the government to actually put ... the arrestee to the jurisdiction of China. And this is something very alarming because, you know, in China, the legal system is totally different than in Hong Kong. That kind of so-called mechanism, the conditions they set, is very vague, and they can easily interpret it and make it very easy for people to be extradited to China and to be pursued under the Chinese legal system. I think the other thing that is alarming is the setup of [China's] national security agency in Hong Kong.... Although it's said they have to follow the laws of Hong Kong ... apparently the Hong Kong police or the Hong Kong government can do nothing about it. They can't arrest them. They can't check them. 

And that new security office that Beijing is setting up in Hong Kong will have its own law enforcement personnel as well. Given all of this, what was the atmosphere in Hong Kong like today as people took to the streets? I think most of the people on the street, they want to be there. They want to show the world that we're not giving up. But you can see from their faces and you can see from their actions that everybody is taking it cautious.

The Chinese government says this law was created in response to those massive protests in Hong Kong last year. How is it meant to address some of what played out there? They basically categorize all kinds of things that happened last year in the protests as some kind of terrorist activities. For example, some vandalizing the traffic lights ... it can be categorized as terrorist activities. Vandalizing some public transport, it can be categorized as terrorist activities. And it will give you at least three years of imprisonment. They want to rule by fear. They want to make sure that Hong Kong people are fearful and to be frightened and not to be able to express [themselves] so freely like in the past. Read more - Lire plus

Louisiana Activists Face 15 Years for “Terrorizing” Oil Lobbyist with Box of Plastic Pollution
DemocracyNow! 29/06/2020 - Two environmental activists with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade face up to 15 years in prison for leaving a box of plastic pellets, found on the Texas coast, at the home of an oil and gas lobbyist in December. Advocates say the “terrorizing” felony charges reflect longtime attempts to criminalize environmental activists in Louisiana and come amid a campaign to block Formosa Plastics from building a new plant in St. James Parish, an area known as Cancer Alley. We speak with Anne Rolfes, director of the group Louisiana Bucket Brigade and one of those facing felony charges, and Gregory Manning, activist and pastor of Broadmoor Community Church, who was charged with inciting a riot as he led a peaceful protest along Cancer Alley in October of 2019. Read more - Lire plus
Could Donald Trump claim a national security threat to shut down the internet?
Brookings 25/06/2020 - “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about,”  Donald Trump told a reporter in a 2020 Oval Office exchange. One of those powers is his authority to shut down radio, television, both wireless and wired phone networks, and the internet. An obscure provision tucked at the back of the Communications Act ( Sec. 706 , codified as 47 USC 606) empowers the president to “cause the closing of any station for radio communications” (such as broadcasting or mobile phone networks) as well as “cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communications” (such as telephone and internet networks). All that is necessary for the exercise of these huge powers is a “proclamation by the President” of “national emergency” in the case of broadcast stations and mobile phones, or the “interest of the national security” for the internet or telephone networks. The statute also gives the president the power to suspend or amend FCC regulations.

Such authority makes one tremble when considered alongside Donald Trump’s  stated belief,  “When somebody’s the President of the United States, the authority is total.” His recent threat to social media platforms to  “close them down”  continues his efforts to use government authority to coerce and manipulate the media. Previous threats include a September 2018 tweet targeting the television licenses of a company that displeased him. “I have long criticized NBC and their journalistic standards – worse than even CNN,”  he wrote . Then he threatened government action: “Look at their license?” Of course, NBC, the network, does not hold a “license,” but the parent company does own very valuable FCC-granted broadcast television licenses in many major cities. While pulling those licenses never happened, the threat was designed to have a chilling effect on the network’s editorial decisions. [...]

Only days after being sworn in, he  restricted travel  from majority-Muslim countries for alleged security reasons. As a part of his trade war, Trump imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, declaring  importation a national security threat  because of its impact on domestic production. [...] We have all watched as even before the 2016 election the intelligence community warned that  foreign powers used the internet to interfere in the exercise of democracy . Trump ignored these reports fearing they impugned his legitimacy. But what if the 2020 election starts going the wrong way for him? Could Donald Trump suddenly announce new evidence of a foreign infiltration national security threat to trigger Section 706 and shut down or constrain the internet? Read more - Lire plus
FBI expands ability to collect cellphone location data, monitor social media, recent contracts show
The Intercept 24/06/2020 - The Federal Bueau of Investigation may be watching what you tweet and where people gather. The federal law enforcement agency’s records show a growing focus on harnessing the latest private sector tools for mass surveillance, including recent contracts with companies that monitor social media posts and collect cellphone location data. On May 26, as demonstrations around the country erupted over the police killing of George Floyd, the FBI signed an  expedited   agreement  to extend its relationship with Dataminr, a company that monitors social media. A few days later, the agency  modified  an agreement it signed in February with Venntel, Inc., a Virginia technology firm that maps and sells the movements of millions of Americans. The company purchases bulk location data and sells it largely to government agencies. [...]

“We are deeply concerned that the FBI is further expanding their surveillance capacity,” said Mary Zerkel, coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Communities Against Islamophobia program. “The FBI has for decades used surveillance and racial profiling to target Muslims, immigrants, people of color, activists in general, and Black activists in particular. AFSC itself has a substantial  FBI file ,” added Zerkel. “Mass data collection tools will only serve to further criminalize protests and free speech, and expand the criminalization of Muslims and people of color.” Few regulations exist to restrict the use of location-tracking data, a form of data collection that many common phone applications collect and monetize. The Supreme Court’s 2018 Carpenter v. United States ruled that government prosecutors require a warrant to obtain cellphone location data from service providers. But many experts worry that the ruling  may not apply  to third-party data brokers such as Venntel. Read more - Lire plus
Russia Jails 2 Anti-Fascists, Ending Terror Case Plagued by Torture Claims
The Moscow Times 22/06/2020 - A court in St. Petersburg has sentenced two members of an anti-fascist activist group on terrorism charges, the final verdicts in a case the authorities say has prevented high-profile attacks and rights groups condemn as fabricated, the Mediazona news website reported  Monday. Eight members of the Set activist group — Russian for “Network” — were previously  sentenced  in 2019 and early 2020 to jail terms ranging between 3.5 years and 18 years. Investigators claimed that they planned attacks during Russia’s 2018 presidential election and the football World Cup, while activists say the case against them was built on testimonies obtained through torture.

St. Petersburg’s military court sentenced Viktor Filinkov, 25, to seven years and Yuli Boyarshinov, 28, to 5.5 years in a penal colony on charges of associating with a terror group, according to Mediazona. Prosecutors had  requested  nine years for Filinkov and six years for Boyarshinov. Filinkov denied the charges and said his initial guilty plea was obtained under duress. Boyarshinov had pleaded guilty to the charges, saying he was unaware that Set was a terror group when he had joined it. Filinkov has alleged being beaten and tased in the woods for several hours to obtain a confession. Boyarshin claimed  that he was placed in a “confession cell” in pre-trial detention where cellmates had allegedly beaten the confession out of him.

“It’s built on fantasies — that’s exactly how the ‘Network terrorist community’ was created,” Filinkov was  quoted  as saying during closing statements last week. Authorities blacklisted  Set as a terrorist organization in 2019. Police  detained  at least 20 people who gathered outside the courthouse in support of Filinkov and Boyarshinov, according to OVD-Info, an organization that monitors police arrests. They were heard shouting slogans including “anti-fascists aren’t terrorists,” according to Mediazona. Read more - Lire plus

UAPA: When laws turn oppressive | Opinion
hindustan times 30/06/2020 - Many of India’s laws have become instruments of oppression rather than vehicles to regulate conduct. One such law is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). It is primarily meant to combat terror and proscribe known terrorist organisations. Parliament, in the latest amendment to UAPA in July 2019, chose to proscribe individuals and their activities by paving the way to name individuals as terrorists even though they may have no affiliation with any of the 36 terrorist organisations referred to in the First Schedule of the Act. The government seeks to justify this amendment consistent with its alleged desire to effectively deal with terrorists and terrorist organisations who threaten security. Unfortunately, the provisions of UAPA have, in the recent past, been used against those known to speak up for the oppressed, those who foster the cause of civil rights, and others who oppose the government and its policies. [...]

The home minister further said that there are others who attempt to plant “terrorist literature” and infiltrate young minds with “terrorist theory”. What kind of literature is “terrorist literature”, what “theories” influence young minds, and what kind of “propaganda” is perceived to be a “terrorist act” are concepts ill-defined and easily misused. So far, no individual has been named as a “terrorist” under UAPA. But many highly-regarded leaders of society, journalists, students who have opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, and who were perceived by the State to hold views contrary to that of the government, are currently being investigated with intent to prosecute under UAPA. [...]

An indication of the law’s indiscriminate misuse is reflected in the kind of people arrested under UAPA. Some disturbing examples among others are: Akhil Gogoi, a Right to Information Act activist; Safoora Zargar, a research scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia; Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, both of whom have done seminal work in protecting India’s most vulnerable communities, namely the Dalits and Adivasis; Masrat Zahra, a 26-year-old internationally-acclaimed photojournalist; Umar Khalid for allegedly instigating the Delhi riots with his speeches at anti-CAA rallies; and Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri author and journalist, for his social media posts. The reason why naming individuals is oppressive and violates citizens’ fundamental freedoms is because of the onerous provisions relating to bail. First, those being investigated can be kept in custody for 180 days pending filing of the charge-sheet. Bail is refused if the court, on perusal of the case diary or upon filing of a charge-sheet, is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against the person are  prima facie  true. It is the settled position in law that the accused cannot have access to the case diary. As far as the charge-sheet is concerned, the act of taking cognisance by the court is based on a  prima facie  belief that the accusations are true. At that stage, the accused is not heard by the court. This makes the law onerous and offensive, with no hope for the accused to access bail. Trials, too, take long. At the end of 2018, of the 2,008 cases, only 317 were sent to trial. Read more - Lire plus
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.
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NEW 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.
NEW 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 .
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 continue to call for justice for Dr. Hassan Diab’s case and for the reform of the Extradition Act.

  • 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.

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
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!