Dec 10: International Human Rights Day

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December 10th was International Human Rights Day in honour of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 by the United Nations. This occurred after the horrors of WWII and the recognition that the nations of the world must respect the rights of all people. In part, the preamble of the declaration states that  “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, [and that] it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…” .

To mark the day, we will talk to Brian Aboud, a member of the Project Fly Home collective in Montreal. The organization has worked to help Abousfian Abdelrazik during his ordeal at the hands of CSIS. On Oct. 7, 2009 Mr Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen,  spoke here at the University of Windsor and described how he was hounded by CSIS beginning in 2000, and then when he returned to his native Sudan in 2003 to visit his mother he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured with Canadian complicity.

Of the 30 articles in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, I picked out several that were violated in the case of Mr Abdelrazik:

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 17.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

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Related information regarding Mohamed Harkat:

Canadian Peace Alliance Position on Immigration Security Certificates
April 2005

The security certificate is a measure of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, by which a refugee or permanent resident in Canada can be imprisoned indefinitely without charge on secret evidence, and deported to his/her country of origin, even if such deportation bears a substantial risk of torture or death.

A security certificate is signed by two federal cabinet ministers who decide, based on secret intelligence, that a refugee or immigrant is a danger to Canada. Citizens of Canada are not subject to the security certificate process. Neither the person named in a security certificate, nor his/her lawyer, is given access to the precise allegations or provided with the secret evidence against him/her.

The decision to issue a security certificate may be reviewed by a Federal Court judge, who is allowed to decide only whether or not the ministers had “reasonable grounds” to sign the certificate (i.e., whether or not there is a possibility that the allegations are true), not whether or not the allegations are based on normal standards of evidence. The judge’s ruling cannot be appealed, and, if the certificate is upheld, the ruling is automatically converted into a deportation order.

The Canadian security certificate process suspends the rule of law and violates fundamental human rights that are protected under both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These rights include entitlement to rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind such as religion, national origin, birth or other status; the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to equality before the law; the presumption of innocence; freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; the right to a fair trial; etc.

Accordingly, the Canadian Peace Alliance calls for the abolition of the security certificate process in Canada, and for the release of all persons detained under Canadian security certificates, unless charges can be laid, and an open, fair trial conducted with full disclosure to an accused person of the evidence against him/her.

The Canadian Peace Alliance also calls for an end to the practice in Canada of deportation to torture, and, specifically, for those currently detained in Canada under security certificates not to be deported, since they are all from countries where they could face torture or death.

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