MInister of Public Safety and Secret Trials Refuses to Meet with Families of Secret Trial Detainees

McLellan Slams the Door on Five Families Seven Months After Prime Minister's Office Refused A Similar Request to Meet


Toronto Families Will Demonstrate Saturday, April 3 at Metro West Detention

Centre to Demand Bail, not Jail




1 April, Ottawa - Anne McLellan, Minister of Public Safety, refused today to

meet families of five Muslim men who are detained without charge, on the

basis of secret evidence, in Canadian prisons. The families had come from

Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in the hope of meeting with her. Instead they

were told that no one from the Minister's office would be available to meet

with them.


About fifty people gathered in front of Parliament to support the families

and demand that the rights of the five men be respected. They were

accompanied, among others, by Kim Koyama of Project Threadbare, a group

working in solidarity with 21 Pakistani men who were arrested last year

in Toronto on grounds of national security. The allegations were later

revealed to be baseless, and many have bee deported despite fears for their

safety. Koyama's own parents were interned in Canada during the Second

World War because they were Japanese.


Also present at the rally was Monia Mazigh, the wife of Maher Arar, who was

deported to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured. Deborah Bourque,

President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Roch Tassé, Coordinator

of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, representatives of

the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the National Council on

Canada-Arab Relations, as well as Murray Thomson, who has received the

Order of Canada for his work for peace and justice. All were united to

demonstrate their opposition to secret trials in Canada.


The families of the detained men - Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah,

Hassan Almrei, Mohamed Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui - who have been

preventively imprisoned for a collective 134 months, were deeply

disappointed that the Minister refused to meet with them. They wondered

whether the questions they wanted to ask the Minister were deemed to pose a

risk to national security. Added to the injustice of the secret trials,

which is a matter of life and death for the detainees, is the silence of the

Minister who is supposed to represent the people. "National security" is

being used to silence people, even on questions of fundamental liberties and

freedoms - the very values which are supposed to differentiate our

democracies from dictatorial regimes.


Under a security certificate, a measure of the Immigration and Refugee

Protection Act, an individual can be arrested and detained indefinitely

without charge, and subject to a process where secret evidence, to which

neither the accused nor his lawyer have access, is used. The decision of the

Federal Court is without appeal and based not on facts, but whether there

are reasonable grounds to assume such facts. The detained face deportation

to countries where they risk being tortured and even executed.


It is worth noting that it is CSIS which supplies the secret evidence and

decides who to target as a threat to national security. Under a security

certificate process, this evidence is not challenged in open court. CSIS has

a track record of exaggerating threats and presenting facts from an angle

which will carry their case (see Security Intelligence Review Committee

reports, <>). In an era of

anti-terrorist paranoia and Islamophobia, its cooperation with American

security agencies and countries like Syria who use torture (in the case of

Maher Arar), is highly questionable. The secret trials are a way in which

Canada can prove to the government of the United States that it is doing its

part in the "war on terrorism."


For more information: 514 290 5589 or 613 276-9102 or 416 795 8206,,

The Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui formed in Montreal in a matter

of days after his abrupt arrest. The Coalition - an alliance of Muslim

groups, refugee and immigrant rights organizations, anti-oppression groups

and the Charkaoui family - demands the immediate release of all Security

Certificate detainees, no deportations, a fair trial, an immediate end to

the "Security Certificate" system, an end to scape-goating in response to

American pressure, and an end to the harassment of Muslims and Arabs


Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui

tel. 514 859 9023,,

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