The Muslim Council Of Montreal (MCM) is advising all Muslims living in Montreal and Canada to not cooperate with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada's government spy agency.
For the past while now, CSIS has been interviewing and monitoring and visiting members of the Muslim community here in Montreal. MCM wants to advise you that when they come calling you do not have to answer. They do not have the legal right to come to your home unannounced and you do not have to let them in your home, unless they have a warrant.
In our opinion, CSIS has not always acted responsibly towards the Arab and Muslim community in Montreal and Canada, and in fact we feel we are being unfairly and unjustly targetted. Arabs and Muslim Canadians have the same civil rights as all other Canadians, and it is important for us to know what these rights are, especially with regards to CSIS, and to assert those rights when they come calling.
The official role of CSIS is to collect information about the "threats to the security of Canada" and report it to the government. CSIS can also, and does provide this information to the police and to foreign states. It is important to note that CSIS IS NOT THE POLICE, and they not have the same powers as the police. CSIS only has the power to intercept communications (i.e. wiretap) and seize documents or records with a valid warrant from the courts.
CSIS has no power or mandate to do the following: 1. ask you who you are, question you or compel you to speak; 2. stop you or search you; 3. charge you or arrest you; 4. enter or search your home; and 5. detain you or deport you.
Your rights if CSIS calls.
The following information has been provided by the Canadian Arab Federation with regards to your rights if CSIS pays you a visit. Please read the points carefully and do not be afraid to assert your rights in this respect.
- You have the right to remain silent
- You can refuse to talk to a CSIS officer. CSIS cannot compel you to speak with them. If you do say anything to CSIS it is considered a voluntary statement and it can and will be used against you or another person to lay criminal charges or for immigration or extradition proceedings.
- You have the right to refuse CSIS entry into you home or workplace
- If CSIS insists on speaking with you or coming into your home or workplace, you have the right to call police for assistance.
- You have the right to ask CSIS to leave
- If they do not have a warrant they have no right to enter or remove anything from your home.
- You have the right to see the CSIS warrant
If CSIS claims they have a warrant you have the right to see it. The warrant must specifically describe the date, the place to be searched, the time and the things to be seized.
- You have the right to tell CSIS that you do not consent to the search
- If CSIS has a warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching, but you have the right to tell them that you do not consent to the search. Remember, CSIS can only seize what is authorized by the warrant.
- You have the right to observe and monitor their activities if CSIS has a warrant
- You do not have to assist them or answer their questions during the execution of the warrant. A warrant for seizure does not give CSIS the right to question you. You have the right to say nothing during the seizure.
- You have the right to be provided with a list of any and all items, documents and things seized by CSIS
- You have the right to ask CSIS agents for their names and titles
- Give this information to your lawyer.
- You have the right to confront the officers politely in public if you suspect you are under CSIS surveillance
- You also have the right to report this to the police and to provide this information to your lawyer.
- You have the right to not give any information to CSIS
- You have the right not to identify yourself, your address or reveal your immigration status to CSIS.
MCM also advises you that if CSIS pays you a visit, you should ask the agents for their names, titles and phone numbers and contact a lawyer for advice. NEVER talk to a CSIS agent without a lawyer present.
Always keep in mind that the work of CSIS involves collecting information about you or others, about your habits, your opinions and your affiliations and that this information may result in criminal or immigration charges against you or another person, so sharing information with them may not be in your best interests especially when they have practice of racially profiling Muslims and jump to many unsubstantiated conclusions based upon these profiles.
In addition, if you suspect you are under surveillance and want to confront the officer: make sure you are polite, in a public place and not alone. Record all details and report it to the police. If you are the subject of a wiretap or a seizure warrant contact a lawyer immediately.
Never, under any circumstances, voluntarily leave the country with CSIS. If you are a Canadian citizen you can only be extradited by a court order after legal proceedings where you are represented by a lawyer. If you are not a citizen you have rights under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act not to be removed from Canada without legal proceedings and a deportation order.
Finally, Muslims and Arabs living in Canada are as much concerned about security issues and terrorist threats as all other Canadians, but we will refuse to be subjected to racist stereotyping, harassment and scape-goating in order to make the rest of the country "feel secure."
If you are contacted by CSIS please let MCM know and we will do our best to intervene on your behalf and let you know of resources if you encounter problems.