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International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Coalition pour la surveillance internationale des libertés civiles

September 3, 2022 - 3 septembre 2022

ICLMG: We need answers and accountability from Prime Minister Trudeau and CSIS on Canada’s role in the Shamima Begum affair

ICLMG 01/09/2022 - The new revelations about how the human trafficker who helped Shamima Begum, a 15-year-old British girl, and two other British girls aged 15 and 16, enter into Daesh (ISIS) controlled territory in Syria in 2015 was a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) asset is deeply disturbing — if not surprising — given previous reporting and CSIS’ record. We deserve clear answers and accountability from the Canadian government and its intelligence agencies on how this occurred, and what will prevent it from happening again.

In contrast, Prime Minister Trudeau decided to strongly defend national security agencies on Wednesday, saying, “The fight against terrorism requires our intelligence services to continue to be flexible and to be creative in their approaches. But every step of the way, they are bound by strict rules by principles and values that Canadians hold dear, including around the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we expect that those rules be followed.”

However, it isn’t at all clear that, at the time in 2015, CSIS was in fact adhering to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this instance. While Trudeau pledged to “look into” this issue further, it requires more direct action.

Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety (SECU) should call a special session to demand answers of CSIS officials and the Minister of Public Safety. Review bodies such as the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency should consider undertaking their own reviews. But beyond all this, it is imperative that we have a public conversation — with answers and accountability — about the consistent failures of CSIS to follow the law and to be honest with the courts, and for the impact that Canada’s anti-terrorism activities have on human rights, civil liberties and systemic discrimination in Canada and internationally. A public inquiry into these issues is needed to provide these answers, and to chart a new direction for Canada’s efforts to protect the safety of Canadians. This may seem to be a drastic response, but it is necessary because of how deep this issue runs.

The initial concern is with CSIS recruiting a human smuggler, Mohammed al-Rashed, who is said to have appealed for asylum at Canada’s embassy in Jordan. Instead, he was approached by a CSIS official, who recruited him to continue his illegal activities in exchange for citizenship. By some accounts, al-Rashed helped bring dozens of people into Daesh territory, both before and after he became a Canadian double agent. It was during this time that he helped smuggle Begum and her travel companions into Syria. All this was also while Canada was providing military support for the fight against Daesh and prosecuting Canadians for traveling to Daesh territory. This alone should prompt investigations by Canada’s national security review bodies, and for CSIS officials to answer questions publicly in front of parliamentary committees.

It is all the more outrageous, though, given Canada’s refusal to repatriate the more than 40 Canadians, including two dozen children, who remain held indefinitely in North Eastern Syria, with no prospect of trial or release. They are stuck in life-threatening conditions, some raising serious allegations of torture. To know that Canadian intelligence were complicit in smuggling people into Syria, and now play a role in Canadians being detained there indefinitely is absolutely shameful. Then there is the question of CSIS and the courts. The spy agency has faced the fury of Canadian judges for failing in what is known as their “duty of candour” to the courts – that is, their duty to provide truthful and complete information to the courts about their activities when they are seeking out new warrants, especially if they engage in unlawful activities to gather info in support of those warrants.

For years, the courts have lambasted CSIS for failing to be up front with them, leading to a scathing decision in 2020 and a devastating report from the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency this summer. How are these linked? One of the central issues was that CSIS had been working with sources who engaged in illegal activity, and CSIS happened to withhold that important bit of information from the courts. According to reporting from Justin Ling, a central case of withheld information was in regards to CSIS working with al-Rashed. At the time in 2015, CSIS did not have clear legal authority to recruit and provide resources to someone engaged in supporting terrorism. That changed, though, with the passage of Bill C-59 in 2019, which brought in rules that allow for CSIS agents and their sources to engage in certain designated unlawful activities. We at the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group opposed that change at the time, because it raised deep concerns around what unlawful activities CSIS could be supporting, and do not believe that the safeguards the government put in place go far enough to make up for the potential harm these powers can cause.

Regardless of it now being made legal, CSIS still lied to the courts at the time to cover up working with a human smuggler who helped secure passage for dozens of people, including minors, into Daesh territory. We don’t know how many of those people were intent on joining Daesh, were coerced or forced into going, or a combination of the two, or had other reasons. What we do know is that CSIS knew of these operations, supported these operations, lied to the courts about it, and when it was raised multiple times over the years, CSIS was allowed to walk away unscathed. Some will argue that CSIS will need to work with the “bad guys” at time in order to collect information, and that doing so in secret is the only way to protect human sources. This can at times be true, but does that mean that anything goes and that no limits or boundaries should be placed? If when Bill C-59 was being studied, Members of Parliament were told that the new law could allow CSIS to promise citizenship in exchange for information to a human smuggler trafficking minors, they may have reacted differently.

It’s also important to remember these allegations aren’t new. CBC and the Globe and Mail, among others, had stories in 2015. But it sheds new light on the problem, and reminds us that for years government officials have known of this issue, but have not acted. This can’t be allowed to persist. CSIS must answer for these activities, and action needs to be taken to ensure this doesn’t continue to occur. Like so much of the legacy of the war on terror, this is a case of impunity for security agencies, while other people face the dire consequences. Source + Share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

Shamima Begum ‘smuggled into Syria for Islamic State by Canadian spy’

Trudeau backs CSIS amid allegations of informant smuggling schoolgirls into Islamic State territory

Should Shamima Begum be allowed to return to the UK to argue her case?

Over 200 Organizations - including ICLMG - Demand International Community Stand Against Raids and Closures of 7 Palestinian Organizations

CIHRS 22/08/2022 - Amid Israel’s escalating attacks targeting their work, a group of more than 200 Palestinian, regional, and international organizations express our full solidarity with the designated seven leading Palestinian civil society organizations, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).

On the morning of 18 August 2022, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) raided and sealed the doorways into the offices of the seven Palestinian organizations. The IOF also confiscated documents and equipment and destroyed items in the offices. On the doors of the organizations, military orders were left behind ordering the closure of the offices under Article 319 of the Emergency Regulations of 1945. This development follows the 19 October 2021, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist organizations under Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Law (2016), which was then extended to the West Bank on 3 November 2021 by a military order that outlawed the same organizations.

These raids and closures represent the latest escalation in Israel’s widespread campaign aiming to silence and discredit any Palestinian individual or organization that dares to seek accountability for Israel’s grave human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The “persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid” is a method used by Israel, amounting to acts of apartheid prosecutable under the Rome Statute, to maintain its domination and oppression over the Palestinian people. 

We call upon the international community to demand that Israel immediately revoke its designations of Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations,” reverse the military orders designating the organizations and closing their offices and repeal its Anti-Terrorism Law (2016) as it does not meet basic human rights standards. Moreover, we call on the international community to take effective measures to end all other actions that deny Palestinians their inalienable human rights. Lastly, we call on the members of the international community to continue their support and increase funding to the organizations and engage with financial institutions to ensure the transfer of funds to the organizations. Read more - Lire plus

12 ans de prison pour l’ex-dirigeant de l’ONG World Vision à Gaza

Where’s Canada as Israel escalates attacks on Palestinian NGOs?

NDP: Canada must do its part for peace between Israel and Palestine

Defending Palestinian Civil Society: Understanding Canada's Role (webinar)

CIA unable to corroborate Israel’s ‘terror’ label for Palestinian rights groups

The Guardian 22/08/2022 - A classified CIA report shows the agency was unable to find any evidence to support Israel’s decision to label six prominent Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist organizations”.

Earlier this year, Israel passed intelligence about the designation to the US, but a CIA intelligence assessment of the material did not find any evidence to support the claim, according to two sources familiar with the study. The CIA report “doesn’t say that the groups are guilty of anything”, one source said. The assessment was highly classified, a second source said. Numerous states, including allies of Israel, have rejected the terror designation as unfounded. The United States has not publicly criticized or questioned it, but neither has it placed the groups under a US terror designation.

In light of the CIA’s assessment, “the United States should very clearly call on the Israeli government to reverse these designations, and to allow these organizations to continue their vital work,” said Omar Shakir, Israel/Palestine director of Human Rights Watch. “The reality here is that the United States has for too long turned a blind eye, and in some cases even green lighted, quite serious Israeli government abuses,” Shakir added. “The position toward the Palestinian human rights organizations highlights a much larger failing in US government policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and puts the United States squarely out of touch with the consensus in the human rights movement.”[...]

The classified assessment mirrors the findings of European governments that were also shown dossiers of Israeli evidence. Last month, nine member states of the European Union said in a joint statement: “No substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy toward the six Palestinian NGOs.” The designation, according to political analysts, was intended in part to dry up the European funding streams to the Palestinian NGOs, but the tactic has proved unsuccessful. Read more - Lire plus

UN urges Israel to allow humanitarians to continue working in Palestine

UN News 18/08/2022 - Allow human rights and humanitarian organizations to continue their work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), UN agencies and other partners have urged Israel. The United Nations and its partners take seriously allegations of funding terrorism as well as the Israeli designations of these entities as unlawful and/or terror organizations.

Despite offers to review the accusations to determine if funds have been diverted, Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to UN agencies nor NGO partners working in the OPT to support these designations.

Several Member States recently announced that the evidence which was shared with them does not justify the designations. “The attempted closures of these organization offices represent the latest in a series of actions by Israel that are further limiting the ability of human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which affect all institutions working to promote human rights, development and delivering assistance,” the UN Agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies said in a statement.

The statement reiterated a previous one issued last November upholding that counter-terrorism legislation must be in accordance with obligations under international law, particularly international humanitarian law and human rights law. This includes full respect for the rights to freedom of association and expression. It cannot be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work; the breadth of the Israeli 2016 Anti-Terrorism legislation and its impact on the presumption of innocence present serious concerns under international law. “We urge the Government of Israel to refrain from any action that would prevent these organizations from continuing their critical human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the statement concluded. Read more - Lire plus

Israel’s ‘Operation Breaking Dawn’ killed 49 Palestinians. These are their stories.

Mondoweiss 01/09/2022 - During the three-day Israeli assault on Gaza between August 5 – 7, 2022, now known as Operation Breaking Dawn, 49 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children. Since the end of fighting, the Mondoweiss team identified every airstrike conducted by the Israeli air forces and undertook the project of memorializing the Palestinians who were martyred in the Israeli attack, including interviewing many of their families.

While Israeli airstrikes were still ongoing in Gaza, moving from place to place became a deadly mission, and even venturing outside of your home could expose you to deliberate and indiscriminate Israeli bombing. The Israeli military regarded anything that moved on the ground to be a legitimate target, and many of the deaths reported during this invasion were of people sitting in front of their homes — most of them non-combatants, according to Mondoweiss’s documentation. 

This latest round has led many in Gaza to conclude that “there is no such thing as security when you’re living under occupation in Gaza,” according to Saleh Tahrawi, the father of a 30-year-old martyr killed in the recent airstrikes. “Whether you’re sheltering in your home hoping to survive the war, or fighting Israel on the front lines, you’re going to be killed either way. Homes in Gaza are more dangerous than battlefields.” Tahrawi lost his daughter while she was sheltering in place in her home. The following is a profile of each person killed during the offensive. Those killed have been listed to correspond with the day and time they were killed, and location of the airstrike that killed them. Read more - Lire plus

Stop selling arms to Israel, activists urge Canada at protest for Palestinians killed in Gaza

Victory for Khalil Awawdeh: Palestinian prisoner suspends hunger strike, to be released 2 October

Canada is complicit in the starvation of Afghanistan

Canadian Dimension 31/08/2022 - Since the Biden administration stole $7 billion from the Afghan central bank in February 2022, the United Nations has reported that 95 percent of Afghanistan’s population is not getting enough to eat. 3.5 million children are in need of nutrition treatment. 800,000 children are “acutely malnourished,” and UN researchers expect this number to reach 3.2 million by the year’s end.

It is already estimated that more Afghans will die because of Biden’s sanctions than died in the last 20 years of war. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov has not minced words: “The fate of an entire generation of Afghans is at stake.” In the Biden administration, there is simply no discussion of returning the full $7 billion to Afghanistan. Rather, the administration split the total sum into two and promised $3.5 billion to the families of those who died in 9/11, even though many of them are refusing to accept the money on the grounds that it was stolen from a starving nation. Last week, a federal magistrate judge recommended that victims not be allowed to use the seized central bank assets to pay off debts owed by the Taliban. [...] As the Biden administration sits on these stolen billions, only one out of every 20 Afghans is getting enough food to sustain themselves.

“The country’s aid-dependent economy was already on edge when the Taliban seized power last August,” Huang explains. “Then the international community froze about $9bn in Afghan assets overseas and halted all funding… The consequences have been devastating for a country already battered by decades of war and poverty.” Now, “[m]any are making desperate decisions to survive, including selling their children—specifically young daughters—into marriage or arranging their marriages in order to receive a dowry or mahr.” For many Afghans, this dowry is their only way to raise the money they need to eat. Others have taken to selling their kidneys on the black market. For many Afghans, this dowry is their only way to raise the money they need to eat. Others have taken to selling their kidneys on the black market.

The Trudeau government has totally ignored the Biden administration’s responsibility for this atrocious situation. On top of that, Canadian laws are actively preventing food aid from reaching Afghanistan. On August 10, the CBC reported that the Canada-based charity World Vision had to cancel a shipment of food that would have fed 1,800 children because of a federal law that bans Canadians who “directly or indirectly” provide “terrorist organizations” (in this case the Taliban) with property or finances. Anyone who breaks this law can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Read more - Lire plus

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Rideau Institute: Canada still imperilling Canadian aid workers in Afghanistan

To end ‘hell on earth’ the US must free Afghanistan's $7bn reserves

Double Standard: Afghan Refugees Still Seeking to Enter U.S. as Biden Admin Opens Door to 68,000+ Ukrainians

Major banks have been cutting ties with some Muslim organizations. This is why the process should be more transparent

The Toronto Star 25/08/2022 - Mosques, schools, community centres, food banks, and humanitarian groups operating as charities that issue tax receipts are being embargoed by major banks and online financial services. This cripples the organization, which is left wondering whether they are being treated fairly by powerful financial institutions and what, if anything, they can do about it. Muslim charities depend heavily on online payment processors to handle millions in donations from the community. These transactions are handled by specific companies that work mostly with non-profits. Major Muslim organizations receive millions in donations that get stored in banks. They need these services to survive.

But I recently spoke with five major Muslim organizations that have effectively been told by their banks or online donation processors to get lost. The message is usually a short letter or email: the Muslim client has exceeded the financial service’s “risk appetite.” They have a month or two to take all their money out and find a new home. One mosque I spoke to was fined once by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Another had an overseas director arrested on terrorism charges (then acquitted). They all blame the bad press for scaring off their financial providers who want to avoid risk. Still, these financial services, which include Canada’s biggest banks, almost always refuse to disclose exactly why they stopped serving their Muslim clients. These charities are so scared of more bad publicity that they all asked me not to use their names. None of them feel like they’ve been fairly treated. I investigated these five Muslim institutions who showed me their internal documents, but I know there are more out there. I just haven’t got to them yet. It is a systemic problem. Banks and other financial services get to kick them out anytime. It’s not an equal relationship.

Now, it’s no secret that banks conduct routine risk assessments of their clients. Some may find that a client’s relationship with the CRA has gotten too turbulent. Or that a Muslim humanitarian group does relief work in a country overrun by banned terrorist entities. No financial service wants to be accused of helping terrorists launder money. That’s obvious.

But how these financial services assess risk should be a more transparent process. If they conclude that a client isn’t worth the trouble, then they should show their work. Research by the University of Toronto and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has already shown that Muslim charities in Canada are unfairly scrutinized by the CRA’s Research and Analysis Division, which hunts for terrorism financing (mostly among Muslims). Unfair CRA scrutiny can affect how banks see and treat their Muslim clients. Banks and financial services might refuse to serve these clients if they see them getting too much unwanted CRA attention. And there’s nothing the client can do.

So, at the very least, there needs to be a review of how the CRA treats Muslim organizations. Any entity being asked to move all their money out of a bank should have some sort of recourse to plead their case. Right now, the system doesn’t allow for due process. There is zero accountability. A community organization shouldn’t be pushed to the brink of shutting down just because their bank doesn’t like one or two media articles written about their client. The evidence should be assessed by an objective body before powerful financial services take the extraordinary step of debanking an organization. Yet the system favours such one-sided decision making right now, with little to no recourse for the client. There are no checks and balances for inequitable or discriminatory treatment. This unaccountable status quo is doing systemic and often irreparable damage to a string of Canadian Muslim organizations. And these are just the ones we know of. The results amount to yet another form of systemic Islamophobia that erodes the structure of Muslim communities and thus the fabric of Canadian society. Read more - Lire plus

More details: The Untold Story of “De-banking” in Canada’s Muslim Community

Monia Mazigh: Canada's Muslim charities deserve fairness from tax officials

The Ottawa Citizen 31/08/2022 - Growing up, I heard stories from my father, a public servant in Tunisia, of how some respected political opponents of the Tunisian president would immediately find themselves the targets of “audit services” when they “crossed” political boundaries, took opposing political stances or gently criticized the regime. My father, a finance inspector, had first-hand knowledge of these administrative shenanigans, whereby the state uses its institutions to “punish” those with whom it does not see eye to eye.

Many years later in Canada, a long-time Canadian union activist told me, laughing, about how he and a bunch of his comrades were audited by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after they were “rude” in a meeting with a high-profile politician. Exaggeration, paranoia, legends? How do we distinguish between the legitimate work of government agencies versus those influenced by political interests or discrimination? Only fairness and transparency can guide us through these complex meanders into possible political interference and abusive administrative or law enforcement practices — among which CRA audits of Muslim charities have received the greatest criticism in recent years.

Last year, a few weeks before the Islamophobia summit that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “offered” Muslim Canadians as a gesture of good will to combat hate and racism faced by the community, I wrote an op-ed in which I highlighted two recent reports by the University of Toronto Institute of Islamic Studies and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Both exposed disproportionate and biased audits of many Muslim charities by the CRA’s Review and Analysis Division (RAD), which is responsible for countering terrorist financing.

Human Concern International (HCI) is an obvious example of how these “biased” audits can negatively affect the reputation and mission of these charities. HCI was registered with the CRA in 1983 and is Canada’s oldest Muslim international relief charity. It has distributed nearly $200 million in relief aid since its inception. The CRA arrived at HCI’s doorstep in 2014 to perform an audit, not the first time the charity had been audited. Seven years later, in 2021, the verdict came: CRA was suspending HCI’s ability to issue tax receipts. That suspension was lifted in 2022. Mahmuda Khan, HCI executive director, describes this audit as “disruptive, confrontational, and instead of focusing on progress, it left the charity in limbo for seven years, only to be slammed with a harsh punishment.”

Let’s be clear: RAD found no proof of terrorism financing and instead punished the charity based on administrative technical findings. The CRA predicated its suspension on the alleged noncompliance of six projects and how HCI issued tax receipts, although the charity says that it did not engage in any inappropriate receipting practices. Most Canadians would think the rule of law requires a trial before any penalty is imposed. However, not with the CRA. HCI was never offered the chance to postpone the suspension while the charity challenged the findings’ validity. In this case, there was no natural justice. The suspension has now ended and HCI recently asked the Supreme Court to review the CRA suspension. But after a one-year suspension, where is the fairness and transparency? This is simply what the Muslim charitable sector has been advocating for.

“Allegations of terrorism” or working in countries torn by war and violence are not the same as evidence of wrongdoing. HCI and other Muslim charities shouldn’t be considered “guilty until proven innocent” because of the religion of the people or the countries they serve. Instead of heavy-handed suspensions and revocations, the CRA should be working with charities to help them improve. This should especially be the case when a charity has not committed a breach that is criminal in nature, and its shortcomings are purely administrative and pose no risk to Canadians. Resources and funds raised by HCI should be channelled towards helping people on the ground — like the millions of Pakistanis currently devastated by the flooding from a recent huge monsoon — and not spent on fighting allegations never proven. Read more - Lire plus

Upcoming book: Reasonable Cause to Suspect: A Mother's Ordeal to Free Her Son from a Kurdish Prison

Dundurn Press - In a story of deceit, betrayal, and injustice, two parents are tried as terrorists for attempting to rescue their son from a Syrian war zone.

On September 2, 2014, Jack Letts, an idealistic 18-year-old British-Canadian, phoned his mother saying, “Mum, I’m in Syria.” Those chilling words from a raging war zone set in train his family’s seven-year-long battle to rescue Jack from his disastrous mistake.

When an unscrupulous journalist invented the term “Jihadi Jack,” a false image of Jack spread throughout the world. Sally and John, Jack’s parents, faced the mammoth task of persuading a hostile public their son was the victim of a smear campaign. He should, they argued, at least be allowed home to face a fair trial to address the claims against him.

But the Canadian and British governments had other plans. Jack is currently detained in a Kurdish prison, while the Canadian government claims it doesn’t know if he is alive or dead. This is his parents’ story of their painful struggle to persuade the world to save the son they love. Available February 7, 2023. Pre-order it here or here.

TAKE ACTION: Children Forced to Eat Sand: Free Jack Letts & 43 Canadian Kids, Women & Men in Syria

Couple entrapped by the RCMP in 2013 sues police

CBC News 30/08/2022 - In their lawsuit, the pair claim the investigation was a "travesty of justice," echoing the language of the B.C. Court of Appeal decision in their case, which upheld a B.C. Supreme Court finding that police had entrapped Nuttall and Korody. Despite a jury finding the two guilty of terror charges, the proceedings were stayed, and no verdict of guilty was entered. In their lawsuit, Nuttall and Korody claim that as a consequence of the misconduct of the defendants, they suffered serious harm, including imprisonment, emotional distress, psychiatric injuries and damage to their reputations. The lawsuit claims federal prosecutors Peter Eccles and Sharon Steele "acted with malice in the form of a deliberate and improper use of the office of the Crown."

The couple is seeking charter, general, special and punitive damages, along with costs and interest, though no amounts are included in the statement of claim. Charter damages are awarded as compensation for breach of a plaintiff's charter rights and to deter state agents from future breaches. "They say there wouldn't have been any sort of plot if it weren't for the actions of the RCMP, and they say the RCMP violated their rights," said Nathan Muirhead, a lawyer representing the couple. "John and Amanda were unjustly kept behind bars for more than three years. They say during the course of their trial, their physical and mental health both suffered. They were kept separate from each other, and the stigma from this case is something that is going to follow them for the rest of their lives." None of the defendants has filed a response to the lawsuit. Read more - Lire plus

Migrante Canada's Statement on Danilo De Leon's Deferred Removal Order

Migrante Canada 28/08/2022 - Migrante Canada welcomes the Canadian government's decision to postpone the removal order for Migrante Canada’s Chairperson Danilo de Leon. The removal order has been postponed "until the final determination of Danilo's application for leave and judicial review of the Decision" by the Federal Court in charge of Danilo's case. The threat of deportation still exists.

Migrante Canada reiterates its position that Danilo de Leon should be allowed to stay in Canada because he faces the serious threat of political persecution, arrest and detention, harm to his life and safety from the Philippine government, the military and the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). De Leon is an active migrant rights activist who has been outspoken about the Philippines' poor human rights record and has always advocated for migrant rights and welfare. De Leon is also the Chairperson of Migrante Canada and a founding member of Migrante Alberta. Migrante Canada is a member of Migrante International that has been tagged by the Philippine government as being a “front” or accused as having connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines, vile accusations fueled by disinformation spread by paid trolls and hecklers.

The threat to De Leon’s life and safety is real. The granting of a "stay of removal" is critical at this time. Filipino activists, including labour leaders, migrants advocates, journalists, lawyers, peasant leaders, environment and land defenders, and human rights defenders continue to be targeted by the the NTF-ELCAC using the unconstitutional Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), a law which has been criticized by Philippine lawyers and people’s organizations and international human rights organizations. The government intent is to malign and silence the critics and dissenters, arrest and detain them, and in the worst-case scenario, target them for extrajudicial killings.

There is still the agony of waiting for the decision of the judicial review but the deferral of the removal order until then is welcome. Whether De Leon is allowed to stay or is removed from Canada to go back to the Philippines, where the threat of persecution, harm to his life and safety are very real, remains to be the question. Meanwhile, De Leon will continue his advocacy for the rights and welfare of his fellow migrant workers and other undocumented workers who, like him, are looking for a better future in Canada.

Migrante Canada and its member organizations will continue to campaign to stop the deportation of Danilo de Leon and we will continue to push for a Regularization Program that will help provide permanent status to all undocumented workers in Canada. Together with workers, migrant-serving organizations, unions, and communities, Migrante Canada will continue to call on the Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser to intervene in the case of Danilo de Leon. Read more - Lire plus

War on Yemen: Stop Canadian arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Spring Magazaine 29/08/2022 - Despite the obliviousness of Western audiences, the war in Yemen has brought upon one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the twenty first century. Since the Saudi led coalition invaded Yemen in 2015, the country has been devastated by unrelenting violence which has taken the lives of over 19,000 people, and caused over 200,000 deaths indirectly. Saudi Arabia and its allies invaded Yemen with the goal of replacing the Houthi forces with the previously overthrown government of Mansur Hadi. In pursuit of its aims, it has not shied away from committing war crimes and instituting a brutal blockade on the country. 

Canada, specifically through its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, has been instrumental in bolstering the Saudi war machine. In 2021, Canada exported $1.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, up from $1.3 billion in 2020. This accounts for 64% of the total value of non-US military exports. The bulk of the arms are Light Armored Vehicles manufactured in London, Ontario by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada. The sale of the vehicles is part of a $15 billion contract which was “brokered by the Harper government but approved by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.” According to government documents leaked in 2016, the Trudeau government’s Foreign Affairs minister Stephane Dion approved the sale of LAV’s to Saudi Arabia following the election of the Liberal government. Dion claims that “these proposed exports are consistent with Canada’s defense and security interests in the middle east.” This is accordant with the Canadian government’s official statement on its bilateral relations with the Saudi Kindgom, which notes that Canada and Saudi Arabia collaborate on “counter-terrorism.”

The Canadian government temporarily halted the arms exports to Saudi Arabia following the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018; however this only applied to new permits and Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia increased by 111% in the following time period. The freeze on arms exports was lifted in 2020 after the Canadian government concluded in its Final Report that there is no risk of Canadian made weapons being used to facilitate war crimes in Yemen, despite damning footage from 2019 indicating the use of Canadian LAVs by Saudi forces. The report claims that “There is no credible evidence that Canadian exports of military goods and technology KSA-led coalition in Yemen.” This is despite the fact the report itself mentions that “Intelligence reports also suggest that the KSA army has used older Canadian-made LAVs in cross-border operations into Yemen.” The Final Report reveals a lot regarding Canada’s decision to arm Saudi Arabia. It claims that “Canadian exports of arms to Saudi Arabia is “More likely to help ensure the stability of a key region for the global economy than to destabilize the region” as it will “protect the regional balance against the expansionist policies of Iran.” The report goes on to say that Saudi Arabia “has been the main bulwark against attempts by Iran to expand its influence in the region, through proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.”

There is no justification as to why Saudi Arabia’s use of proxies to expand its influence is encouraged whereas the opposite is true for Iran. The next sentence of the report says that “Iran’s nuclear ambitions threaten the region, most notably Israel.” There is no explanation as to how arming Saudi Arabia will curb Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, nor as to how Israel’s stockpile of nuclear warheads affects peace in the region. The Final Report also mentions that Saudi Arabia “has also been a key partner to Canada and its allies in efforts to resolve the Syrian civil war and to contain AQAP and Daesh.” This is despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has been one of the main contributors to the Syrian war through its funding of extremist proxies such as Al Nusra, which is an affiliate of Al Qaeda. It is taken for granted that the expansionist policies of Saudi Arabia, which has aimed to install puppet governments in Yemen and Syria contribute to peace and stability, whereas the opposite is true of Iran, which is deemed as a threat to peace and stability. 

In 2021, Ploughshares and Amnesty International published a report challenging the conclusions of the The Final Report, demonstrating that Canada has violated the Arms Trade Treaty, which it joined in 2019. “The Final Report’s assessment and subsequent analysis were conducted exclusively under the Export and Import permit Act (EIPA), while ignoring Canada’s obligations under the ATT.” The report concludes that arming the KSA in order to curb Iran’s “expansionist” policies is “disingenuous under the ATT.” The Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (GEEY) has concluded that supplying arms to any party in the Yemen conflict is helping to “perpetuate the conflict and the suffering of the population.” The report concludes that the Government of Saudi Arabia is “Responsible for human rights violations, including arbitrary deprivation of the right to life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, ill-treatment and child recruitment, and violations of fundamental freedoms, and economic, social and cultural rights.” In light of Canada’s potential complicity in Saudi war crimes, The Ploughshares and Amnesty report recommends that Canada fully incorporate the ATT into law as well as revoking arms permits to the KSA and suspend issuance of new permits. Read more - Lire plus

TAKE ACTION: Canada stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia

La reconnaissance faciale : Un outil de surveillance de masse

LDL - Pour un débat public informé sur la reconnaissance faciale : Depuis plusieurs années, le développement et l’utilisation de technologies de reconnaissance faciale par des organismes publics (police, agence de renseignement) et des entités privées ont lieu sans aucun contrôle et sans débat public, alors qu'il s'agit d'une des technologies de surveillance parmi les plus intrusives. Qu'est-ce que la reconnaissance faciale? Quelles en sont les utilisations possibles et connues? Y a-t-il un lien entre la reconnaissance faciale et le phénomène qu'on appelle le capitalisme de surveillance? Est-ce que les lois actuelles encadrent adéquatement leur développement? Quels droits et libertés sont bafoués par son utilisation?

Un nouvel outil de promotion des droits humains à partager !

Pour répondre à toutes ces questions, et bien d'autres, la Ligue des droits et libertés met en ligne une section Web qui vise à informer et à sensibiliser sur les enjeux sociétaux liés aux technologies de reconnaissance faciale, dans la perspective de susciter un débat public large et informé. Pendant qu'ici comme ailleurs, des actions sont menées et des voix s'élèvent pour contrer son utilisation, des exemples d'utilisations à notre insu, par l'entreprise Clearview AI ou encore la Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC), permettent de saisir toute la portée de ces technologies sur la démocratie et nos droits et libertés. Cet outil a été réalisé en collaboration avec les militant-e-s du comité Surveillance des populations, intelligence artificielle et droits humains de la Ligue des droits et libertés.

Bonne navigation! Read more - Lire plus

Turkish Attack Claims Lives Of 4 Children At UN Center In NE Syria

North Press Agency 19/08/2022 - Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) revealed on Friday casualties toll of a Turkish drone attack that targeted on Friday an educational center under the United Nations auspice, on a road links between the town of Tel Tamr and the city of Hasakah.

The AANES, in a statement, added that Turkey has escalated its military operations against the AANES-held areas after recent meetings held by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with regional and international parties. The AANES was first formed in 2014 in the Kurdish-majority regions of Afrin, Kobani and Jazira in northern Syria following the withdrawal of the government forces. Later, it was expanded to Manbij, Tabqa, Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor after the SDF defeated ISIS militarily there.

The statement noted that the Turkish drone targeted the educational center for girls under the UN auspice in the village of Shmouka near a base of the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, on Tel Tamr-Hasakah road. The shelling claimed the lives of four children and wounding 11 others, all of them are females, the statement read. It called for the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the relevant institutions and the UN to show an urgent and clear stand, limiting Turkish aggression. Read more - Lire plus

US-led coalition in Syria condemns Turkish attack targeting UN-sponsored school

Turkish Shelling Of Bazaar Claims Lives Of Two In Aleppo Countryside

Turkish Attack Shatters Families’ Heart For Losing Two Children In NE Syria

Report: Civilian Casualties of Turkish Military Operations in Northern Iraq (2015 - 2021)

ACTION: Tell the US State department: No More F-16’s to Turkey!

ACTION: Biden: Stop Turkey's invasion

Potential 'crimes against humanity' in China's Xinjiang, UN says

Al Jazeera 01/09/2022 - China’s detention of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang may amount to “crimes against humanity”, the United Nations human rights office said in a long-delayed report that was finally published late on Wednesday.

The 45-page report (PDF) called on Beijing to immediately release “all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty”, clarify the whereabouts of those whose families have been unable to locate them and undertake a “full review” of its laws on domestic security and repeal all discriminatory laws.

The document, published 13 minutes before UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet’s term ended, came four years after a ground-breaking report from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that revealed that more than one million people were being held in a network of detention centres across Xinjiang.

The government of the United States as well as parliaments in the United Kingdom, Canada and France have since labelled China’s treatment of the Uighurs as “genocide”. Bachelet’s report makes no mention of the word “genocide”, but concludes that “serious human rights violations have been committed” in Xinjiang “in the context of the Government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies”.

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups … may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” it said.

Beijing at first denied the camps’ existence but later said they were vocational skills training centres necessary to address “extremism” among Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim Turkic people who differ in religion, language, and culture from China’s majority Han ethnic group.

Since the UN’s initial report on the camps in 2018, leaks of official government documents, investigations by human rights groups and academics, as well as testimony from Uighurs themselves have revealed further details about the situation in the region.

It also said allegations of torture and ill-treatment at the VETCs, including individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, were “credible” and raised concern over “serious indications of violations of reproductive rights through the coercive and discriminatory enforcement of family planning and birth control policies”. Similarly, “there are indications that labour and employment schemes” in Xinjiang may “involve elements of coercion and discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds”.

A group of 60 Uighur organisations welcomed the release of Bachelet’s report, saying the document from the world’s leading human rights body offered the “most definitive assessment of the issues faced by Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples” in China. “This UN report is extremely important. It paves the way for meaningful and tangible action by member states, UN bodies, and the business community,” said World Uyghur Congress President Dolkun Isa. “Accountability starts now.”

The groups urged the UN Human Rights Council to to establish a commission of inquiry to independently examine the treatment of Uighurs and other minorities in China and called on the UN Office on Genocide Prevention to immediately conduct an assessment of the risks of atrocities, including genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. It also appealed to governments to take “urgent steps” to protect Uighurs at imminent risk of refoulement to China. Read more - Lire plus

Saudi woman jailed for 45 years over social media use, says group

The Guardian 30/08/2022 - Another Saudi Arabian woman has been sentenced to decades in prison by the kingdom’s terrorism court for using social media to “violate the public order”, according to court documents seen by a human rights group. Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani was sentenced to 45 years in prison after a specialised criminal court convicted her of “using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia’s] social fabric”, according to documents that were obtained and reviewed by Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn), an organisation founded by Jamal Khashoggi. Dawn shared its findings, which it said were verified by Saudi sources, with the Guardian.

Few details are known about Qahtani, including her age or the circumstances around her arrest and conviction. But the news of her decades-long sentence comes weeks after Salma al-Shehab, a 34-year-old PhD student at Leeds University and mother of two children, was convicted and sentenced to 34 years in prison after she returned home to Saudi for a holiday break. Court documents in Shehab case revealed she had been convicted for the alleged crime of following the Twitter accounts of individuals who “cause public unrest and destabilise civil and national security”. In some cases, she retweeted tweets posted by dissidents in exile. Shehab told a Saudi court she had faced abuse and harassment during her detention, including being subjected to interrogations after being given medications that exhausted her.

In Qahtani’s case, Saudi authorities appear to have imprisoned her for “simply tweeting her opinions”, said Abdullah Alaoudh, the director for the Gulf region at Dawn. Saudi laws are designed to give authorities maximum discretion, including the power to detain individuals for vaguely defined anti-terrorism laws such as “disturbing public order” and “endangering national unity”. Qahtani does not appear to have had a Twitter account in her own name. Other Saudis believed to have used pseudonyms to post satirical or critical content on Twitter have faced detention and arrest. Read more - Lire plus

34 years jail for women’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab, who used Twitter to call for reforms

AccessNow: Free Salma al-Shehab, Saudi’s Twitter activist! Even Big Tech has a role to play

Correcting the record on Bill Graham and the Iraq War

Canadian Dimension 22/08/2022 - With the recent death of former Liberal Defence and Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, has come a gush of praise for how he “resisted American arguments” and “stayed out” of the invasion of Iraq. This is a significant revision of history. Graham’s obituary in the Globe and Mail describes him as “a loyal and effective minister, supporting [former prime minister Jean] Chrétien in his decision not to involve Canada in the American-led war in Iraq.” The reality is that Canada was very much “involved” in the invasion of Iraq and the “War on Terror” more generally—and Graham staunchly defended this role.

Graham was first-elected as an MP in 1997. He moved from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to his first cabinet position as minister of foreign affairs, in 2002. Previously, in October 2001, NATO invoked Article 5. Then-Defence Minister Art Eggleton responded with Operation Apollo, readying 1,000 soldiers, the HMCS Halifax, the HMCS Vancouver, the HMCS Preserver and later the HMCS Iroquois to join Operation Enduring Freedom. While the Canadian government had yet not publicly stated an intent to send ground forces, Canada did so, quietly but eagerly, as part of its joint operations with the United States. US Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, recalled that Canada’s Defence Minister was almost “begging” to join the war: “I got a call on my cell phone from Art Eggleton during the build up in Afghanistan. The message was ‘We want to be part of this.’”

Soon after Graham’s appointment to the foreign affairs file, photos revealed that Canada’s clandestine Joint Task Force II commandos were already working “hand in glove” with US forces in Afghanistan, including in a high-profile January 28 battle in Kandahar’s Mirwais Hospital. Graham defended the secret deployment in his memoir, The Call of the World. While acknowledging “Most Canadians weren’t even aware we had Special Forces in Afghanistan until their presence was revealed in a newspaper photo,” Graham nonetheless maintained that “with any Special Operations, only those with a ‘need to know’ knew what their mission entailed. Secrecy is what makes them effective.” Hardly a reluctant participant in US wars, Graham himself was, according to Janice Stein and J. Eugene Lang’s account, marked by his “excellent relationship with Colin Powell,” and his eagerness to join the “War on Terror.”

On March 17, 2003, Prime Minister Chrétien told Parliament that Canada would not participate in the invasion. However, that same day, a WikiLeaks cable noted, Canadian diplomats pledged their support for the invasion behind the scenes to US officials—in the foreign affairs headquarters in Ottawa, while Graham was minister. The classified document stated: “While for domestic political reasons… the GOC [Government of Canada] has decided not to join in a US coalition of the willing… they are also prepared to be as helpful as possible in the military margins.” At the meeting foreign affairs official James Wright (presumably under Graham’s direction) advised US officials that Canadian naval and air forces could also “discreetly” assist the US-led assault. US ambassador Paul Cellucci remarked: “Ironically, the Canadians indirectly provide more support for us in Iraq than most of those 46 countries that are fully supporting us.” [...]

Further, the campaign in southern Afghanistan, most notably Operation Medusa in September 2006, was enormously violent. “We antagonized the local population but we didn’t rout the Taliban,” one officer recalled. “We destroyed infrastructure, tore up villages.” In a letter to the Toronto Star, Corporal Paul Demetrick recalled:

We respond to hostile fire by indiscriminate bombing and shelling of villages, killing innocent men, women and children; we fire white phosphorus shells (a chemical weapon outlawed by the Geneva Conventions due to the horrific way it burns human beings) into vineyards where it was known Afghan insurgents were deployed; we hand over prisoners of war to Afghan authorities, who torture them; and we shoot and kill a two-year-old Afghan boy and his four-year-old sister. Do we want to be remembered for hating, killing and destroying, or caring, healing and helping with reconstruction?”

Still, Graham defended the war well after the Liberals’ defeat. “Operation Medusa defeated the Taliban in a large-scale battle that saved Kandahar and perhaps the whole country,” Graham wrote in his memoir. “If the war had stopped at that point, everybody might still be congratulating us on our intelligent and triumphant policy.” While lamenting that “public support for the mission, which had been considerable in the wake of 9/11, eroded in the face of mounting casualties,” Graham defended the war itself, calling it a “mission to be proud of.”

The only problem, Graham insisted, was that the war wasn’t violent enough. Graham lamented that Canada underestimated the “scale, intensity, and duration of the fighting” and that “NATO failed to get other partners to take their turn in a full combat role.”

When the war was up for review, Graham was interim Liberal leader and he insisted the party’s caucus vote in favour, saying: “I do understand one thing: if we vote against this motion, Canadians are going to look at us and wonder what kind of chumps would flip-flop on such an important issue.” Read more - Lire plus

Retaliation isn’t justice: Biden’s assassination of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was illegal. Canada should not have condoned it

Canadian Dimension 12/08/2022 - If you blinked you might have missed it. On August 1 Justin Trudeau tacitly endorsed the CIA’s extrajudicial assassination of a foreign national. Judge for yourself (see the image):

A little more than a week ago, a CIA-piloted drone operating in the airspace of a sovereign country assassinated Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with a Hellfire missile. President Biden emphasized the lack of collateral damage—about as close as any official will get to acknowledging drone strikes more often than not kill civilians—and stated justice had been delivered.

There is of course a considerable difference between justice and retaliation. Though the US has given itself broad and sweeping powers to carry out extrajudicial hits on suspected terrorists, Biden’s decision to kill al-Zawahiri broke numerous international laws, including the Geneva Convention, as law professor Marjorie Cohn amply demonstrates in a recent article for Truthout. What’s more, she writes, “extrajudicial executions are prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the United States has ratified.”

If that wasn’t enough, consider that the assassination of al-Zawahiri would have been an intolerable abuse of international law to none other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had this to say about Donald Trump’s 2020 drone assassination of top-ranking Iranian military officer Qassim Suleimani:

[W]e cannot put the lives of American service members, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions. Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America–and the world–cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return. The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassim Suleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.

Contrast that with Pelosi’s statement on the assassination of al-Zawahiri: “The President is to be commended for his strong leadership to keep Americans safe and to deliver justice to this despicable terrorist.” Despicable terrorist or not, according to both international and US law, al-Zawahiri had the right to his own life, as well as a trial for whatever crimes he’s accused of. That al-Zawahiri was the leader of Al Qaeda and likely the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (among others) does not give the US the license to execute him.

What’s of paramount concern for Canadians is not that the United States has once again launched a strike without due process and in defiance of international law and convention (conventions we ostensibly support and would rigorously apply in our prosecution of just about any other nation), but that our own prime minister would make a statement supporting such actions.

No peace or security can be achieved through extralegal assassinations or drone strikes that terrorize and kill countless civilians. Those killed by these strikes—and all their families, friends, supporters, and associated—have been denied fair due process according to international law, and it is the constant violations of these laws that breed anti-Western sentiment in the first place. Canada should resolutely condemn the extrajudicial killing of anyone and seek to uphold the universal laws meant to govern all nations. By tacitly supporting al-Zawahiri’s killing, Trudeau demonstrated belief in a Western exceptionalism that has directed the actions of our leaders for decades and helped to make the world less safe and less fair. It is remarkable that it even has to be said: murder is not justice. Our prime minister should know this. Read more - Lire plus

We’re Suing DHS to Uncover Its Use of Social Media Surveillance Tools

Brennan Center for Justice 18/08/2022 - The Bren­nan Center sued the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity on Thursday to force the govern­ment to hand over records on its use of vari­ous social media surveil­lance tools. The agency has refused to comply with a Free­dom of Inform­a­tion Act request seek­ing docu­ments about products from three compan­ies: Shad­ow­Dragon, Logic­ally Inc., and Voyager Labs.

DHS already gath­ers and uses inform­a­tion from social media for purposes ranging from situ­ational aware­ness to auto­mated risk assess­ments of trav­el­ers to efforts to predict threats of terror­ism and other viol­ence. The agency’s expan­ded use of social media monit­or­ing tools will heighten exist­ing risks to privacy and to free­dom of speech, expres­sion, and asso­ci­ation, affect­ing Amer­ic­ans, immig­rants, and foreign trav­el­ers while making scant contri­bu­tions to national secur­ity.

While details about the agency’s use of these tools are murky, recent media cover­age and contract­ing data shed some light. Journ­al­ists revealed last fall that U.S. Immig­ra­tion and Customs Enforce­ment had purchased licenses for two Shad­ow­Dragon products — OIMon­itor and Social­Net — at least three times. Shad­ow­Dragon’s market­ing mater­i­als claim that these products are under­pinned by the company’s vast cache of histor­ical and real-time data pulled from through­out the inter­net, includ­ing social media sites, allow­ing users to detect threats using keywords to sift through the data and “discover and visu­al­ize networks of bad actors.”

Simil­arly, the Wall Street Journal revealed last year that DHS was in at least prelim­in­ary conver­sa­tions with Logic­ally Inc., which advert­ises that it uses social media to analyze trends and identify “emer­ging narrat­ives.” DHS announced that it inten­ded to focus on these “online narrat­ives” — which are ill-defined — in the wake of the Janu­ary 6 Capitol insur­rec­tion, despite the fact that the govern­ment had ample advance inform­a­tion, includ­ing from social media, about the like­li­hood and nature of the attack. There is also evid­ence that focus­ing on “narrat­ives” will yield little of value while under­min­ing civil rights and civil liber­ties.   

Finally, while it is unclear whether DHS has engaged with Voyager Labs, there is reason to believe the agency would have signi­fic­ant interest in the company’s services. The Bren­nan Center first learned about Voyager Labs through our free­dom of inform­a­tion lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Depart­ment. The docu­ments we obtained from the LAPD revealed that Voyager Labs prom­ises its law enforce­ment clients access to vast amounts of inform­a­tion about indi­vidu­als on social media and lever­ages its purpor­ted analyt­ical capab­il­it­ies to make infer­ences about social media users’ networks and the strength of their ideo­lo­gical beliefs. Notably, Voyager Labs has marketed its products as useful to DHS issues, such as border secur­ity.

As the Bren­nan Center has repeatedly warned, social media surveil­lance by DHS threatens Amer­ic­ans’ First Amend­ment and privacy rights. Govern­ment offi­cials can glean intim­ate details about a person through their social media pres­ence, such as their reli­gious beliefs, familial networks, sexual orient­a­tion, and more. Know­ledge that the govern­ment is surveilling online activ­ity and mapping inter­per­sonal networks may also impact what people say and whom they inter­act with on social media, chilling their speech and asso­ci­ation. Moreover, DHS has used social media to surveil activ­ity surround­ing protests, includ­ing demon­stra­tions against racial injustice and police brutal­ity as well as protests against the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s family separ­a­tion policy and other anti-Trump demon­stra­tions.

Further, the depart­ment’s reli­ance on third-party tools to surveil social media will likely dispro­por­tion­ately harm racial and reli­gious minor­ity groups. Given the decades-long history of discrim­in­at­ory surveil­lance by DHS and other federal agen­cies against Muslim and Arab Amer­ican communit­ies in partic­u­lar, these tools could further entrench the biases that put minor­ity groups at risk of increased scru­tiny. Indeed, Voyager Labs’ pitches for the LAPD advert­ise that its tools could auto­mat­ic­ally flag social media users as threats because of their perceived “ties to or affin­ity for Islamic funda­ment­al­ism or extrem­ism,” based on such tenu­ous evid­ence as “pictures with Islamic themes” that indic­ate “pride in . . . [one’s] Arab herit­age.”

The use of private compan­ies to conduct social media monit­or­ing poses addi­tional risks as they are not subject to the same over­sight and regu­la­tions as govern­ment agen­cies, and the govern­ment itself may have little visib­il­ity into how the compan­ies it hires go about their busi­ness. Finally, there is little evid­ence of the prac­tice’s effect­ive­ness. The agency’s own experts and assess­ments have raised seri­ous doubts that social media surveil­lance is useful to unearth inform­a­tion pertin­ent to the depart­ment’s law enforce­ment or national secur­ity mandate. Read more - Lire plus

Sri Lanka: Protesters must not be detained under the draconian anti-terror law

Amnesty International 22/08/2022 - Responding to reports that Wasantha Mudalige, the convener of Inter University Students’ Federation, Galwewa Siridhamma Thero, the convener of Inter University Bhikku Federation, and Hashantha Jawantha Gunathilake, member of the Kelaniya University Students’ Union, who were arrested on 18 and 19 August, are being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:

“Using a draconian anti-terror law to crackdown on protesters is a new low for the Sri Lankan government. This weaponizing of an already highly-criticized law, which should be repealed immediately, is a testament to how the authorities are unwilling to withstand any form of criticism and are systematically stifling dissenting voices. This is against Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations, especially the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

“Charges of terrorism do not commensurate with any offenses the protesters are alleged to have committed. Such an action by the authorities is excessive, disproportionate and in violation of international law. The PTA allows for detention of suspects for up to a year without charge, which is in violation of international law. The defence minister must not sign an order to detain them further under the PTA. The PTA has a long history of abuse in Sri Lanka, and this development shows precisely why both local and international actors have been calling for its repeal. Time and time again, the Act has been used as a tool to silence government critics, journalists and minorities.” Read more - Lire plus

Sri Lanka proposes yet another counter-terrorism law to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act

Tariq Ali: Terrorism Charges Against Pakistan’s Former PM Imran Khan Are “Truly Grotesque”

DemocracyNow! 23/08/2022 - We speak to the Pakistani British historian and writer Tariq Ali about new anti-terrorism charges brought against former Prime Minister Imran Khan after he spoke out against the country’s police and a judge who presided over the arrest of one of his aides. His rivals have pressed for severe charges against Khan to keep him out of the next elections as his popularity grows across the country, says Ali. Ali also discusses devastating floods in Pakistan, which have killed nearly 800 people over the past two months, and have never happened “on this scale.” Read more - Lire plus

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Since the Taliban takeover of a year ago, Canadian aid organizations have faced barriers in sending aid to Afghanistan due to Canadian sanctions and a restrictive interpretation of the Canadian Criminal Code’s anti-terrorism provisions. This is despite the US, the UK, the EU countries and even the UN taking action to ensure sanctions do not interfere with crucial humanitarian assistance.

ICLMG has teamed up with other Canadian organizations to call on Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian government to act immediately to remove barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance. This includes ensuring that sanctions and counter-terror finance and criminal law restrictions do not impede the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid. This issue isn’t limited to Afghanistan, either, which is why we are also asking the government to address the long-standing issue of ensuring that anti-terrorism laws and sanctions do not interfere with humanitarian assistance. Version française


NEW Protect human rights defenders in Palestine

CJPME - Canada’s inaction in the face of Israeli repression must end! Canada must stand up for human rights defenders by condemning Israel’s actions and putting its support behind the work of Palestinian NGOs

+ NCCM action: Canada must denounce the banning and raiding of Palestinian human rights organizations


NEW Ban facial recognition technology

Amnesty International - Facial recognition technologies are used to stifle protest and harass minority communities around the world – not just in New York City. These technologies are a global threat to the right to privacy, freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, and to equality and non-discrimination. Call for an end to technologies of mass surveillance.


NEW Cuba is Not a Sponsor of Terror!

A crucial policy of the Trump administration remains, and that is Cuba’s presence on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. It is critical to Cuba’s ability to pursue economic, trade and humanitarian activities that it be removed immediately from the list - a power well within Biden’s authority.

Please sign CodePink's petition to the White House calling for Cuba to be removed from the list.


NEW No More F-16’s to Turkey!

We, the undersigned, demand you not approve any more sales of F-16’s or other fighter jets to Turkey. After the release of the report “Civilian Casualties of Turkish Military Operations in Northern Iraq (2015-2021)” we would find it unacceptable that the U.S. would continue selling F-16s to the Turkish military.


Tell Biden to Close Guantanamo

Now, with growing support in Congress, President Biden has an opportunity to end these ongoing abuses by closing the detention center.

Help us close Guantánamo and ensure the transfer of all cleared detainees to countries where their human rights will be respected. 

Act Now to tell President Biden to shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention facility!


Protecting water is not terrorism: Free Jessica Reznicek

In 2016, Jessica Reznicek took action to stop the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline by dismantling construction equipment and pipeline valves. In 2021 she was sentenced to 8 years in prison with a domestic terrorism enhancement. In 2022 an appeals court upheld her conviction writing that even if the terrorism enhancement was an error it was "harmless" although it increased a 37 months sentence to a sentence of 96 months. Stop the criminalization of dissent!


Stop Mohamed Harkat's deportation to torture

For 20 years, Moe and Sophie Harkat have fought against illegal detention, secret hearings, the surveillance state invading their home, and deportation to torture. Enough is enough. For the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Torture, please send a message to end this nightmare (all it takes is two clicks!)


LeadNow petition: Protect Hassan Diab from further injustice. Say NO to any future request for Hassan's extradition!

Petition organized by the Hassan Diab Support Committee - Following the return of Dr. Diab to Canada in 2018, PM Trudeau said: “I think for Hassan Diab we have to recognise first of all that what happened to him never should have happened […] and make sure it never happens again.”

Mr. Trudeau must honor his own words and protect Hassan. The unfair political trial of an innocent Canadian citizen cannot be tolerated. PM Trudeau and the Canadian government must:

(a) Put an end to this continuing miscarriage of justice, and

(b) Refuse any future request for Hassan Diab’s extradition.


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NOUVELLE pétition de LeadNow: Protégez Hassan Diab de toute nouvelle injustice. Dites NON à toute future demande d'extradition!

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Reform Canada's extradition law + Justice for Hassan Diab!

Canada’s extradition system is broken. One leading legal expert calls it “the least fair law in Canada.” It has led to grave harms and rights violations, as we’ve seen in the case of Canadian citizen Dr Hassan Diab. It needs to be reformed now.

Click below to send a message to urge Prime Minister Trudeau, the Minister of Justice and your Member of Parliament to reform the extradition system before it makes more victims. And share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram. Thank you!

Version française: Le Canada doit réformer la loi sur l'extradition! + Partagez sur Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

Phone PM Justin Trudeau

TAKE ACTION: Justice for Hassan Diab!

Just Peace Advocates' action: Write a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau: Say “No" to a second extradition of Hassan Diab


Canada must protect encryption!

Canada’s extradition system is broken. One leading legal expert calls it “the least fair law in Canada.” It has led to grave harms and rights violations, as we’ve seen in the case of Canadian citizen Dr Hassan Diab. It needs to be reformed now.

Click below to send a message to urge Prime Minister Trudeau, the Minister of Justice and your Member of Parliament to reform the extradition system before it makes more victims. And share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram. Thank you!

Regardez la vidéo avec les sous-titres en français + Agir


RCMP off the land

This is unconscionable. The RCMP are violently harassing Wet’suwet’en land defenders again for fighting against the sovereignty-violating Coastal Gaslink pipeline. We’ve heard reports directly from land defenders that drilling for CGL is imminent — and the RCMP's specialized unit CIRG (Community-Industry Response Group), is ramping up their enforcement. They have a history of using excessive force and violence against Indigenous people — all in the name of profit.

We know that the BC government and high ranking RCMP officials have the power to deploy — and remove the RCMP. If enough of us fill their inboxes with emails demanding they respect Indigenous sovereignty and call off the RCMP, it could be enough to force them to act and halt all construction. Send a message directly to key decision makers asking them to stop the violence.

+ Wanna do more? Join a group

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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

+ Urge China to stop targeting Uyghurs in China and abroad


Free Jack Letts and all Canadian Detainees in NE Syria

Canada must immediately act to free four dozen Canadian men, women and children left to rot in one of a series of notorious Northeastern Syrian prisons and detention camps described as “Guantanamo on the Euphrates.” 

The longest held detainee is Jack Letts, 26, who has been imprisoned for almost 5 years without charge under conditions the United Nations has described as meeting the “threshold for torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law.”

Send an email and call!

Mother’s Day to Father’s Day Chain Fast to Free the Canadian Captives


Write a Letter: Stop the Smear Campaigns against Palestinian Advocacy

Recently, we have witnessed an intensified campaign by the pro-Israel lobby in Canada to smear Palestinian activists and their supporters. Last week, the National Post (NP) ran an online article about Palestinian-Canadian writer Khaled Barakat and the advocacy organization Samidoun. On April 30, the same article was splashed across their front page of their paper and has since been referenced in the Canadian Senate and the Jerusalem Post.

Send your letter to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to tell them that you join with the 80 organizations that have called to “Stop the Smear Campaigns against Palestinian Advocacy”.


Urgent Action to Stop the Deportation of Mohamed Ibrahim and his Family

Mohamed Ibrahim, an Egyptian national, alongside his wife, Shaimaa, and 5 children - the youngest of whom a toddler who was born in Canada - have been given a removal order by the CBSA and are facing deportation back to Egypt where Mohamed will be facing a high risk of human rights abuses by the current Egyptian regime as a result of his peaceful political activism in Egypt. Mohamed and his family arrived in Canada in 2017 and applied for asylum. However, his claim was rejected due to a legal error of his lawyer.

We call on the Minister of Immigration to give Mohammed Ibrahim and his family protection on humanitarian and compassionate grounds pursuant to section 25(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.


Tell Trudeau: Stop Arming Apartheid!

As revealed in CJPME's "Arming Apartheid" analysis, Canada is selling almost $20 million in arms to Israel each year – its highest level in 30 years! At the same time, Israeli forces continue to violently raid Al-Aqsa and across occupied Palestine, and human rights organizations – including Amnesty International – have all recently concluded that Israel imposes an apartheid regime against Palestinians!

There is no excuse for Canada to continue exporting arms to a country practicing apartheid and other abuses. Help us push the Canadian government to suspend arms exports to Israel, and investigate whether Canadian-made weapons have been used against Palestinian civilians! Canada must end its complicity now!


Email your MP – No more weapons to Saudi Arabia

Canada has blood on its hands. Now approaching its seventh year, the war in Yemen has killed over a quarter of a million people. Over 4 million people have been displaced because of the war, and 70% of the population, including 11.3 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The Saudi-led coalition has bombed Yemeni markets, hospitals, and civilians, and yet Canada has exported over $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015, the year the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen began. Send a letter now calling on the Canadian government to stop sending weapons to Saudi Arabia and stop arming the horrific war in Yemen.

+ Write letter: Canada’s silence on Saudi mass executions deeply troubling


Canada: End the Safe Third Country Agreement

The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States puts refugees at risk. Under the STCA, refugees who arrive at official ports of entry to seek protection in Canada are sent back to the US, where some have suffered serious rights violations in detention. This encourages refugee claimants to cross the border into Canada between ports of entry, sometimes in perilous conditions.

Despite the constitutionality of the STCA being in question, reports suggest that the government is attempting to expand this agreement. 

Take Action now and send a message to Minister Fraser to respect refugee rights by rescinding the Safe Third Country Agreement.


Free Cihan Erdal

Cihan Erdal is a Canadian permanent resident, queer youth activist, doctoral student, and coordinator of the Centre for Urban Youth Research at Carleton University in Ottawa. He was unjustly detained in Turkey on unfounded charges in September 2020, after being swept up in a mass arrest of politicians, activists, and academics in Istanbul. Send a message to Canadian officials now the Canadian government can take to help bring Cihan safely home.

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How to Help Afghans in Afghanistan and Canada

Muslim Link - The people of Afghanistan are in dire need of humanitarian aid and Canada has committed to accepting 20,000 Afghan refugees.

How can you help? Click below for a list of ways you can support the people of Afghanistan at home and abroad.

Demand action from Canada in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan


Protect our rights from facial recognition!

ICLMG - Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated tech poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people across Canada. Federal intelligence agencies refuse to disclose whether they use facial recognition technology. The RCMP has admitted (after lying about it) to using facial recognition for 18 years without regulation, let alone a public debate regarding whether it should have been allowed in the first place.

Send a message to Prime Minister Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair calling for a ban now.

Take action to ban biometric recognition technologies

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Trudeau: 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.




Reddition de comptes

They wanted justice for their mentally ill loved one who died in jail. Now those hopes are crushed

Freedom of expression and of the press

Liberté d'expression et de la presse

Hong Kong says it can target anyone in the world after Canadian journalist charged

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai to plead not guilty in national security case

Nigeria: Minister Urges Media To Prioritize National Security

Biden ignores the injustice of Israel killing a Palestinian American journalist


The sudden silencing of Guantanamo's artists

The Navy runs the most bizarre gift shop in Guantanamo Bay


ACLU sues over Arizona law limiting filming of police

Privacy and surveillance

Vie privée et surveillance

Saudi Arabia to host second edition of Global AI Summit

Shoshana Zuboff: Le capitalisme de surveillance: Une crise pour les démocraties



The US legacy in Iraq and the fight against ISIS (podcast)

US withdraws from ASEAN counter terrorism meeting

Truth to the Powerless - Discussion with filmmaker and special guests (video)

Yves Engler: Justice for the victims of Canadian peacekeepers

Ethiopian Forces Blamed for Airstrike on Tigray Kindergarten That Killed 7

Ethiopia's Tigray war: Tedros Ghebreyesus unable to send money to 'starving' family

Check out our biannual summary of activities: What We've Been Up To from January to June 2022. Lisez la version française ici.

Here are the issues we plan to work on for the rest of 2022:

  • Monitoring the evolution of Bill S-7 – the electronic device border search bill – as it passes through the Senate and House of Commons;
  • Ensuring that the Canadian government’s proposals on “online harms” do not violate fundamental freedoms, or exacerbate the silencing of racialized and marginalized voices online;
  • Protecting our privacy from government surveillance, including facial recognition, and from attempts to weaken encryption, along with advocating for privacy law reform (including monitoring the new Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act);
  • Justice for Mohamed Harkat, an end to security certificates, and addressing problems in security inadmissibility;
  • Justice for Hassan Diab and reforming the extradition law;
  • Greater transparency and accountability for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS);
  • The return of the 44 Canadian citizens indefinitely detained in Syrian camps, including 26 children;
  • The end to the CRA’s prejudiced audits of Muslim-led charities;
  • Pushing for Canadian government action on behalf of Iranian Canadians negatively and unjustly impacted by the US terror listing of the IRGC
  • Greater accountability and transparency for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), including the establishment of a strong, effective and independent review mechanism. This includes evaluating and advocating for improvements to the proposed Public Review and Complaints Commission Act  (Bill C-20);
  • Monitoring the review of the National Security Act, 2017 (Bill C-59);
  • Advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US;
  • Pressuring lawmakers to protect our civil liberties from the negative impact of national security and the “war on terror”, as well as keeping you and our member organizations informed via the News Digest;
  • And much more!

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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!

Bill Ewanick

Mary Ann Higgs

Kevin Malseed

Brian Murphy

Colin Stuart

Bob Thomson

James Turk

John & Rosemary Williams

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!