24 Hours Against Torture:
Stop Canadian Deportations to Torture
A 24-hour nonviolent vigil
Wednesday, June 8, 12 noon - Thursday, June 9, 12 noon
Minister of Deportation Joe Volpe's office
Bathurst and Lawrence (southwest corner), Toronto
Part of a nationwide day of action
The month of June is marked by numerous anniversaries, among them the Canadian ratification of the Convention Against Torture (June 24, 1987) and the signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which forbids torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, slavery or involuntary servitude, arbitrary arrest and detention).
Both of them are vitally relevant to the issue of secret trials in Canada and deportation to torture. June 20 is also World Refugee Day. June 26 is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Both will no doubt be marked with solemn yet hypocritical words of wisdom from Canadian political leaders.
Canada continues to violate these treaties and covenants in its treatment of the Secret Trial Five (indefinite detention, house arrest, continued proceedings to deport to torture) as well as many other immigrants and refugees subject to lengthy detention in Canada and deportation to abuse abroad.
On June 8, we invite you to be part of a national day of action to end the growing Canadian practice of deportation to torture, recently condemned in no uncertain terms by Human Rights Watch in a report on the uselessness of seeking "diplomatic assurances" against torture of deported detainees. As Human Rights Watch concludes, "countries [like Canada] that rely on such assurances are either engaging in wishful thinking or using the assurances as a figleaf to cover their complicity in torture and their role in the erosion of the international norm against torture."
In four of the five secret trial cases (Hassan Almrei, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Adil Charkaoui), there is an official acknowledgement from the Canadian government itself that these men face a substantial risk of torture or death if deported. Expert human rights opinions have come to the same conclusion for Mohamed Harkat (who has yet to have his government pre-removal risk assessment).
Yet still the government continues its efforts to deport these men, in the meantime condemning them to years of indefinite detention and, in one case, draconian house arrest release conditions.
Events are already planned across Canada, including in Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Durham, Vancouver and Toronto, where a 24-hour vigil at Minister of Deportation Joe Volpe's office is scheduled. We are seeking Volpe's written guarantee that he will stop behaving like an international outlaw, and stop proceedings to deport these men.
We invite interested groups to hold a vigil at MPs' offices, election or not, to seek a similar guarantee that they are opposed to deportation to torture, and opposed not only to the indefinite detention under secret trial security certificates but also the draconian house arrest release provisions which Irwin Cotler currently poses as a "solution." There is no reason why any of these men cannot be released on standard bail conditions. (a copy of the statement which numerous MPs have already signed is available at http://www.homesnotbombs.ca/secrettrialstatement.htm
If you cannot organize an event but would like to help out, June 8 would be a good day to at least call or write your MP and drop a line to Joe Volpe and Anne McLellan about this issue. (Anne McLellan, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, House of Commons, 306 Justice Building, Ottawa, K1A 0A6, (613) 992-2406, Fax: (613) 995-7408., and Joe Volpe, Immigration Minister, Rm 658, Confederation Bldg, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, (613) 992-6361, Fax: (613) 992-9791
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
The Secret Trial Five cases represent the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, Canada continues to deport over 10,000 people to an uncertain fate every year, often to human rights abusing countries. And the government's pre-removal risk assessment, which determines the risk someone faces if deported, has an approval rate of 1.5% (a remarkable figure, but not surprising, given that the same department responsible for pursuing the deportations conducts the risk assessments).
Equally shocking is Canada's nod and wink approach to torturers. The government knew that Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was subject to unspeakable acts of torture in Iran, yet Canada sent new diplomatic representation to that country and did not speak up about it until six months later, after an Iranian refugee revealed this shocking fact).
WHAT IS CANADA SENDING PEOPLE BACK TO?
According to Amnesty International, the common forms of torture to which a country like Canada is prepared to deport people include being "beaten with fists, sticks, gun-butts, makeshift whips, iron pipes, baseball bats, electric flex. Victims suffer bruises, internal bleeding, broken bones, lost teeth, ruptured organs and some die.
"Rape and sexual abuse of prisoners is also widespread. Other common methods of torture and ill-treatment include electric shocks (reported in more than 40 countries), suspension of the body (more than 40 countries), beating on the soles of the feet (more than 30 countries), suffocation (more than 30 countries), mock execution or death threat (more than 50 countries) and prolonged solitary confinement (more than 50 countries).
Other methods include submersion in water, stubbing of cigarettes on the body, being tied to the back of a car and being dragged behind it, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation."
This, then, is what Canadian tax dollars are being used for: to send the Secret Trial Five and countless others back to countries where the mutilation of genitals, the removal of finger and toenails, the repeated near drowning in fetid toilets, suspension of the body in contorted positions, and other cruelties are common practice.
Join us as we try and bring Canada in line with the norms of a civilized, lawful country. If you are planning an event, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
(416) 651-5800, email@example.com, homesnotbombs.ca
For information on events near or around your vicinity, contact
Justice for Adil: firstname.lastname@example.org, (514) 859 9023 www.adilinfo.org
Justice For Mohamed, www.zerra.net/freemohamed,
Campaign to Styop Secret Trials in Canada (416) 651-5800, email@example.com,
homesnotbombs.ca--if you can sign up for a block of time during the 24 hour
vigil in Toronto, please let us know.
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