Montreal, 3 February 2011 -- A community dinner in Montreal in support of Mohamed Harkat, who is engaged in an eight-year battle against deportation to torture on the basis of secret accusations, will have to go ahead without its guest of honour. Harkat learned late last week that the Canadian Border Services Agency refused his request to attend the dinner, organized as the closing event of a Montreal conference on national security.
CBSA, which is in charge of enforcing the strict bail conditions imposed on Harkat, stated that he could not attend because of the "the nature of the proposed event, its anticipated participants, as well as its venue." The event, a free vegetarian dinner, will take place at Concordia University.
Eight years ago, on Dec. 10th, 2002, Mohamed Harkat was arrested and thrown in jail for alleged and unproven terrorism offenses, and faces deportation to his native Algeria. His wife Sophie describes the impact of the prosecution against him and of the recent judicial setback in his case, when Justice Simon Noel upheld the security certificate issued against him.
Out with the old, in with the old!
What was expected to be the end of a long nightmare and a great end to 2010 turned out to be a disaster. We can't really put 2010 behind us because our battle continues.
It was ironic that on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, family, friends, and supporters of secret trial detainee Mohamed Harkat gathered with him and his wife, Sophie, to weep and reflect on three federal court decisions against him. The latest decision upheld the regime of secret hearings and judicially sanctioned rendition to torture; and Harkat's supporter's recommitted to ending what domestic and international critics have labelled a star chamber process.
Due to a system based on secret allegations that neither accused nor lawyers can contest, Harkat has, for eight years, been subject to a "security certificate," a measure by which individuals can be detained, held indefinitely without charge, and ultimately be deported, despite the risk of torture.
The recent arrest of four young men in Ottawa has been portrayed by the media and by some security analysts as a brand new threat: the radicalization of youth. The typical terrorist is no longer a sombre looking foreigner or an immigrant with a heavy accent immersed in martial arts -- instead he is a middle-class family man, funny, "well integrated," and well educated that you can never detect or almost never...
Just before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court of Canada held two days of hearings regarding the fate of Mohamed Harkat, detained in prison and under house arrest for over a decade by a secret trial security certificate, the reasons for which he has never been allowed to know and challenge. October 10 was a public hearing that he could attend, while October 11 was one he was not invited to, nor were his lawyers, the media, or the public. In fact, the eight judges of the Supreme Court disappeared to hold a secret hearing somewhere in Canada.
On October 11, as many Canadians focus on the best place to purchase a Thanksgiving turkey, the Supreme Court of Canada will be in session, but anyone wishing to attend that day's hearing will find the Court building empty, and the nine judges missing. Outside of a small handful of individuals, no one will know where the country's highest court will be sitting or what will be discussed.