Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Special Report on National Security Organizations and Human Rights in Canada

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has released a report entitled Human Rights Accountability in National Security Practices. It recommends that Parliament pass legislation requiring national security organizations to publish tracking data showing how they meet obligations to respect human rights.

"The Government of Canada’s national security organizations operate in a challenging environment. They must protect Canada from complex domestic and foreign threats that evolve constantly. At the same time, they must respect human rights as they are defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

"The effectiveness of these organizations depends in part on their capacity to earn and maintain the trust of the general public. Respect for human rights is not just a legal obligation; it is critical to earning that trust."

"National security and human rights objectives must not be pursued with an either/ or approach. The challenge is to find an appropriate balance. This fact has been acknowledged by the government, Parliament, the courts and national security organizations themselves. Yet, national security organizations have faced questions about the extent to which they respect human rights in the course of their work in Canada, and internationally"

"Concerns have been raised about issues such as the profiling of individuals on grounds that are prohibited under the Canadian Human Rights Act (the Act). Such concerns were reported as recently as March 2011, by the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism. Specific cases have linked Canadian officials and security organizations to human rights abuses involving Canadians at the hands of governments in other countries."

"Since 2001, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) has produced research papers on national security and human rights. This research has brought together contemporary evidence and analysis to help inform Parliamentary and public debate."

"The Commission has looked at issues such as Canada’s national security environment and human rights; racial or ethnic profiling; and how Canadian security organizations report on human rights issues in their work."

(...)

"Analysis of a decade of research clearly shows that there are no means to assess the human rights performance of Canada’s national security organizations. Not only is there no accountability framework in place, national security organizations are not required to collect and report data on human rights performance in practice."

"This Report recommends that Canada’s national security organizations be required to demonstrate, with the support of evidence, that they are committed equally to the protection of national security and the respect for human rights, not just in word, but in practice."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:36 pm

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