The end of June marks 13 years of Mohammad Mahjoub's Kafkasesque journey. The Egyptian refugee and returnee from torture originally thought he was walking onto a Hollywood set when he was surrounded by heavily armed men and arrested while getting off a Toronto streetcar in 2000.
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Most couples sitting in courtrooms are there for separation and divorce proceedings. Not so Sophie and Mohamed (Moe) Harkat, who have spent years in court because they desperately wish to stay together. The Ottawa couple have spent the past decade resisting with all their might the attempt to make their marriage a threesome by a secretive party who, in a manner that most relationship counsellors would mark as a major red flag moment, refuses to be open and honest, all the while it questions the authenticity of the Harkats' love for one another.
The ease with which self-described democratic states embroil themselves in torture continues to be illustrated by the manner in which agencies of the Canadian state, from spies to judges, have wedged open a door to legitimize complicity in a practice that both domestic and international law ban outright.
Canadian policy-making on refugee issues is ignoring the evidence of leading researchers in the field. Empirical research that would improve refugee legislation and the practices of our refugee determination system is being overlooked to the detriment of refugees and the Canadian public.
A key example is the immigration detention process.
When "Public Safety" Minister Vic Toews released his "new" national security strategy last month, he cautioned the few people paying attention that "no government can guarantee it will be able to prevent all terrorist attacks all the time," as if such catastrophic events were a daily reality as common to Canadians as mosquitoes.
Most Canadians would shudder at the thought of women being shackled to their hospital beds after giving birth. Yet that is exactly what happens to a specific class of women who, having come to Canada seeking safety, are detained even though they pose no threat to the public.
Detained refugees experience the trauma of being shackled and chained on their journey to and from medical care and during certain procedures in Canadian hospitals, according to a brief presented to the House of Commons last month by McGill University researchers Janet Cleveland, Cécile Rousseau and Rachel Kronick. In addition, they reported many detained refugees forgo health-care visits for fear of being shackled and humiliated.