Saturday, February 24, 2007

Top court rules against security certificates

Last Updated: Friday, February 23, 2007 | 7:51 AM ET
The Canadian Press

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the security certificate system used by the federal government to detain and deport foreign-born terrorist suspects.

In a 9-0 judgment, the court found that the system, described by government officials as a key tool for safeguarding national security, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But the court suspended the judgment from taking legal effect for a year, giving Parliament time to write a new law complying with constitutional principles.

Critics have long denounced the certificates, which can lead to deportation of non-citizens on the basis of secret intelligence presented to a Federal Court judge at closed-door hearings.

Those who fight the allegations can spend years in jail while the case works its way through the legal system. In the end, they can sometimes face removal to countries with a track record of torture.

The system was challenged on constitutional grounds by three men from Morocco, Syria and Algeria — all alleged by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to have ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. All deny any such ties.