Saturday, August 25, 2007

Canadian Government Response to Parliamentary Report on Security Certificates

Earlier this week, the Canadian government published its official Response to the Twelfth Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

The House of Commons report (presented to Parliament on April 16, 2007) dealt with the security certificate system.

Under Canada's security certificate system, non-citizens could be detained and deported based largely on allegations that they represented a risk to the security of Canada. The allegations did not have to be proven in open court. Since 2001, many of the cases related to the certificates have involved Middle Eastern men suspected of being connected to Islamist terrorist movements.

Under the system, legal proceedings concerning the reasonableness of the certificate were held, but the government could present the Court with confidential and secret evidence, with the detainee and his or her lawyers only being granted access to a summary.

On February 23, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down many of the components of the security certificate system as unconstitutional. [See Library Boy: Supreme Court Ruling on Security Certificates, February 24, 2007; and More Commentary on Supreme Court Security Certificate Ruling, February 27, 2007]

The use of secret evidence that is not disclosed to the detainee was found to violate section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (right to life, liberty and security of the person). The section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that does not require a detention review for foreign nationals until 120 days after the reasonableness of the certificate has been judicially confirmed was found to infringe the guarantee against arbitrary detention found in section 9 and 10(c) of the Charter.

The House Committee made a series of recommendations. The government response addresses those recommendations.

The Supreme Court has given the government 12 months (until late February 2008) to change the provisions that were declared unconstitutional.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:32 pm

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