Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Human rights in Canada

Dennis O'Connor's report into the Maher Arar affair should be released on Monday, and two other men who, like Arar, suffered torture in Syrian prisons are hoping for vindication also.

Warren Allmand, a Liberal cabinet minister in the 1970s and 80s who now heads the Montreal-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said the key question in all the cases is whether Canada knowingly participated in the "out-sourced torture" of its citizens.

"It is not merely a question of whether there was negligence (but) whether these shameful incidents were carried out deliberately," said Allmand.

"What does all this say about the rule of law in Canada? Can officials and intelligence officers suspend the law and the Constitution to suit their own purposes?"

We must not fall into the trap of considering this to be a political issue pitting the left against the right. The Anti-terrorist Act was passed by a Liberal government and has not been seriously challenged by the Conservatives; "extraordinary rendition" first saw the light of day under Bill Clinton and has been extensively used under Bush's administration. There is blame and shame enough for everybody.

The issues here transcend political affilitation and empty-headed posturing. They are vital to conserving our liberal democracies and people from both ends of the political spectrum and points in between should be united in calling for an end to this kind of blatant injustice.

Please, contact your MP, Prime Minister, Senator, Congressman, President or anyone else with a voice in this matter and express your concern.

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