Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Canadian Human Rights Commission Report on National Security

A recent report entitled National Security and Human Rights Concerns in Canada was published this week on the website of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Written by Wesley Mark, Associate Professor at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, the document surveys a number of critical issues that involve the proper balance or trade-off between national security imperatives and human rights concerns:

"Implicitly, it assumes that a democratic, pluralist society requires both national security and human rights in equal measures and hesitates to sacrifice either, except in extraordinary circumstances and in the face of demonstrable need. The objective is to try to identify current and potential points of friction between national security practices and human rights protection in Canada. As a fear of the future is the defining characteristic of the national security and human rights environment in Canada, it is particularly important that we understand the historical context and present circumstances in order to ready ourselves to face this future. New security institutions, policies and practices are, in many respects, too new to allow us to fully gauge their impact at this stage. When it comes to human rights concerns, Canadians wrestle with the implications of new laws and new practices, without the benefit of a clear sense of how far they have already shaped, or will shape, our rights environment. In other words, the dilemma does not concern a clearly established pattern of human rights abuses or discriminatory practices that can be documented in the present; the dilemma lies in what the future might hold. "

"The eight issue areas examined include:

  • The evolution of national security policy in Canada since September 11, 2001
  • New legislative measures
  • The application of pre-September 11 powers
  • Key federal government agencies in the national security domain
  • Measures of accountability and review of national security agencies
  • Federal government responsibility and capacity to protect Canadians abroad
  • International liaisons in national security work
  • The role of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in fostering knowledge"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm


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