Behind Razor-wire: Visiting Adil in Prison


MONTREAL, QUEBEC, February 10, 2004 -- Today, two members of the Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui joined the Charkaoui family in a visit to their son and father Adil.

Adil is only allowed four visitors at a time (three times a week) so his father waited outside as we went in with his mother and two year old daughter Khawla.

We passed through a security door, an ID-checking guard, and a gate into a grey courtyard surrounded by multiple layers of fences and surveillance cameras and bounded by razor-wire horizons. Fences herded us into the next round of doors and guards and papers to sign.

It was my first time in a prison, let alone a maximum security prison, but the strange thing was that it all seemed familiar. There wasn't one of the surveillance and security devices that I hadn't encountered before in our surveilled and security-regulated society. Even looking up at the sky and seeing the rolls of razor-wire felt familiar.

We spoke to Adil by crouching down on our side of the narrow visiting pen and talking through the two-inch reinforced metal mesh at the bottom of the (presumably) bullet proof glass. It was hard to hear with all the other conversations going on in neighbouring pens. Adil and his family haven't been able to touch each other since Adil was locked up at the end of May 2003. But Khawla had made a game of disappearing from one pen to another and seeing if her father could find the right pen.

Adil told us how CSIS had been harassing and bullying him to become an informer. When he refused, they decided to make an example of him. He is clear-thinking and speaks his mind without fear and you can see why they, an agency which requires fear, chose to target him. Now, because of the CSIS allegations and the Canadian government actions against him, he will be imprisoned, tortured and possibly even executed if he is deported to Morocco (according to Amnesty International). He tells us that, if he had actually done anything, they could have used Law C36; but because he has done nothing at all, they are using the Security Certificate. This way they can avoid a real trial with standards of evidence and challenges.

People held under a Security Certificate are not charged with anything, but are locked up and face deportation because CSIS has said they are a threat to national security. The public summary of the document that CSIS prepared on Charkaoui is bizarre. Most of it has nothing to do with Charkaoui, and seems to be designed, with little subtlety, even stupidity, to play on fear and anti-Muslim sentiments. The few pieces of information that actually concern Adil certainly don't lead to an unbiased conclusion that he should be treated as a threat to anyone's security. One wonders what is in the secret document that only the Minister of Public Safety and Judge are allowed to see.

Under a recent Federal Court ruling, Adil will be in prison for at least another six months, when his next detention review will be held. In the meantime, the Coalition for Justice for Adil is calling on everyone to support efforts to ensure that he and the four other men held under Security Certificates are freed, are given a fair trial if there are any charges to bring against them, and that Security Certificates are abolished.

For more information about the Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui:,

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