Vive Le Canada

A Handy Boost For Certificate
Date: Friday, November 17 2006
Topic:


I have no idea what our elected officials and security agencies will be able to do to win back my heart and mind? I plain do not trust any of them! 4Canada

Nov. 17, 2006. 01:00 AM
THOMAS WALKOM

Politically, the government's decision to use its formidable security certificate powers to arrest and detain a suspected Russian spy comes at a most convenient time.

These certificates, which allow the government to jail indefinitely and without charge any foreign national deemed a security risk, have been the government's weapons of choice in its counter-terrorism arsenal.

But until this week, when police nabbed a man who calls himself Paul William Hampel, they were facing diminishing public support.

They have been challenged as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court. (A decision is expected by early next year.) They've been harshly criticized at both Commons and Senate committees.

Amnesty International has slammed them as a violation of fundamental human rights. A United Nations working group concluded that they deny suspects a fair trial.

Although security certificates have been around in one form or another since 1978 (the current, more robust version dates to 1991), they became controversial only after 9/11.

That's when Canadian security forces scooped up, jailed and ordered deported five Muslim men who the government claims are linked to Islamic terrorism.

All five have challenged that contention, arguing that if the government thinks they are terrorists it should charge them with a crime and bring them to trial. They also argue that they can't properly defend themselves at security certificate hearings because they can't see the evidence against them.

In such cases, the government is allowed to present evidence in secret before a federal court judge. Neither the defendants nor their lawyers are entitled to be present. Nor are they permitted to know the details of the government's case.

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 17, 2006]

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