MCM CALLS ON ALL CANADIANS TO CONTACT THE GOVERNMENT CONCERNING BILL C-3December 5, 2007
Montreal, Quebec, December 5th, 2007- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) calls on all Canadians to contact their local MPs and the members of the Public Safety Committee to voice their concerns over Bill C-3.
MCM reprimands the government for presenting a new bill that is merely a rehash of the old Security Certificate law with few changes, such as the introduction of a "special advocate." MCM believes that these changes do not meet the basic minimum requirements for fundamental justice as ordered by the Supreme Court Justices, who abolished the original security certificate law last year, declaring it unconstitutional.
MCM further censures the government for rushing to pass the Bill through Parliament, without giving community organizations a chance to participate in the hearings of the Public Safety Committee.
We urge the government to seriously take into consideration the following issues before moving forward, in order to correct the more egregious flaws this bill would maintain and to uphold fundamental justice:
- An extension to the deadline to pass the Bill is required, as community organizations were not given the chance to be heard in the public hearings.
- In introducing a "special advocate" the government should, minimally, avoid repeating the mistakes that have already been made and recognised in the United Kingdom. Otherwise, it will not advance the cause of justice and will be of a very little benefit in protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of the person named in the Certificate.
- The Bill allows for the use of secret evidence, the use of foreign evidence (often obtained under torture), the use of summary evidence and intelligence reports based on vague assessments, the use of hearsay, newspaper clippings and other sources of unreliable information, all of which are used to raise suspicions against the defendants and unfairly uphold the security certificates against them. Such practices must be banned.
- The Bill maintains a very low standard of proof to uphold the Certificate (essentially, reasonable suspicion). This low standard of proof cannot be tolerated in a matter that holds such serious and severe consequences for the innocent, including associating them with terrorism, stigmatizing them and putting their life and that of their family at risk. It is imperative that the standard of proof be raised to the same level used in criminal cases.
- Under the proposed bill, deportation to torture continues to be a possibility. This is unacceptable, especially in Canada. Deportation to torture must be clearly banned in the new bill.
- Under the proposed bill, indefinite loss of liberty (imprisonment, house arrest or preventive conditions) continues to be a possibility. This possibility must be clearly banned in the new bill.
- To avoid the flaws of the old bill, the Parliamentary Committee must recommend that the new bill respects natural justice and due process, such as the right to a full appeal, the right to know the precise charges against one, the right to impartial and transparent hearing, the right to know the evidence against one, the right to properly test and cross-examine the evidence, the application of fair rules of evidence, the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, and the right to full and complete defence.
- The parliament must fully implement the recommendations of Justice Dennis O'Connor, in the Arar Commission. Furthermore, the parliament must promptly move to establish a system of proper checks and balances to prevent the mistakes made by Canadian security agencies from re-occurring and to avoid the use of racial and religious stereotyping.
We believe that properly addressing the above issues will go some distance towards helping to restore the appearance and operation of justice and therefore strengthen our national security. It is imperative to protect the appearance of justice by respecting fundamental justice and by the implementation of the proper checks and balances to encourage self-policing and to avoid putting our justice system to disrepute.
The following is a list of the members of the Public Safety Committee:
The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) is an umbrella organization representing a number of Islamic institutions in the Montreal region. There are over 175,000 Muslims in Montreal, about 825,000 in Canada and 1.5 billion worldwide.