Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Justice pour les immigrants et les immigrantes
Non à la pauvreté, au racisme et au profilage racial
LE DIMANCHE 4 MAI à 12h30
Point de départ: au coin des rues Victoria et Van Horne à CÔTE-DES-NEIGES
(métro Plamondon, sortie Van Horne)
Bienvenue aux enfants!
Nourriture et breuvages sur place
Véhicules disponibles au besoin pour personnes à mobilité réduite
Dans le cadre des journées nationales d'action pour les droits des immigrants et immigrantes, Solidarité sans frontières prendra de nouveau les rues pour exiger la justice et la dignité pour toutes les personnes migrantes.
Nous marcherons en opposition aux déportations et aux détentions, et pour demander un STATUT POUR TOUTES ET TOUS! Nous marchons parce que, pour nous, il n'existe pas d'être humain qui soit "illégal": il n'y a que des lois injustes et des gouvernements illégitimes.
À tous les jours, nous luttons contre les déportations et les détentions, nous nous battons pour obtenir justice dans nos lieux de travail, nous revendiquons des logements sécuritaires et décents et nous nous opposons au racisme et au profilage racial. À mille lieux de la xénophobie promue par le soi-disant débat des "accommodements raisonnables", nous prendrons les rues pour fêter nos luttes collectives pour la justice et la dignité, dans toute leur diversité et leur force.
Cette année, nous marcherons à travers les rues de Côte-des-Neiges, un quartier majoritairement ouvrier et immigrant. Notre manifestation marquera le point culminant du festival Mai à l'oeuvre!, un festival de la culture ouvrière, organisé chaque année par le Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrant-es de Montréal (IWC-CTI). Notre marche s'inscrit également dans la tradition du 1er mai, en hommage aux luttes menées par les travailleuses et les travailleurs partout dans le monde.
Soyez des nôtres! Amenez votre famille et vos ami-es, vos voisins, voisines et vos collègues de travail. Le dimanche 4 mai prochain, ajoutez votre voix et votre présence à celles d'un nombre grandissant d'individus à Montréal et ailleurs qui exigent un "STATUT POUR TOUTES ET TOUS!"
LISEZ CE QUI SUIT pour plus d'information sur comment appuyer la marche.
L'affiche pour la manifestation "Un statut pour toutes et tous" se trouve ICI.
Organisé par Solidarité sans frontières, en collaboration avec le Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrant-es et Mai à l'oeuvre! Cet événement est soutenu par les groupes suivants: Les Apatrides Anonymes * L'Association des locataires de Villeray (ALV) * Le Bloc Action Mondiale des peuples (Montréal & Ottawa) * Bloquez l'empire Montréal * La Campagne "Accommode donc, ça!" * Le Centre des femmes d'ici et d'ailleurs * Le Centre des femmes sud-asiatiques de Montréal * Le Centre d'appui aux Philippines * La Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui * La Coalition Justice pour Anas * Le Collectif Opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * Le Comité d'action et de coordination des femmes de diverses origines pour le 8 mars * Le Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL) * Le Comité des sans-emploi Montréal-centre * Le Comité de soutien pour Adbelkader Belaouni * Le Comité de soutien des travailleurs/travailleuses de Lamour * DIRA Bibliothèque Anarchiste * Groupe de recherche d'intêret publique (GRIP Concordia & McGill) * Ici La Otra Montréal * Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee * The Midnight Kitchen * Personne n'est illégal-Montréal * La Pointe Libertaire * PINAY (Organisation des femmes philippines à Montréal) * Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) * Q-Team Montréal! * Les Sorcières * STELLA * Tadamon! Montréal * Tamil Elders Association of Quebec * Tamil Women's Association of Quebec * Union Locale de Montréal - NEFAC
INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org – 514 848-7583 - www.solidaritesansfrontieres.org
Pour en savoir plus sur des marches passées pour les droits des immigrants (2003-2007), cliquez ICI.
APPUYEZ LA MARCHE ET MOBILISEZ-VOUS!
Nous invitons tous les groupes à endosser la marche "UN STATUT POUR TOUTES ET TOUS" et à mobiliser leurs réseaux. Si votre groupe ou organisme désire endosser la manifestation, veuillez écrire à email@example.com
Nous vous encourageons également à annoncer la manifestation sur vos listes de diffusion, blogues, sites Internet et lors de vos réunions et événements. Si vous désirez inviter un-e membre de Solidarité sans frontières dans une de vos rencontres, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter. Nous pouvons faire des présentations sur des enjeux reliés à l'immigration, à la pauvreté, au racisme, et plus encore. Ces présentations peuvent durer de 10 minutes à 2 heures (pour un atelier complet).
Contactez-nous également si vous avez besoin de tracts et d'affiches pour mobiliser. Vous trouverez également des affiches et des tracts au GRIP-Concordia (1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204, métro Guy-Concordia; tél: 514-848-7583) et au Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrant-es (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon; tél: 514-342-2111).
Nous avons également du matériel d'information en espagnol, en arabe, en tagalog, en tamoul, en perse, en russe et plus encore. Veuillez nous contacter si vous désirez vous procurer ce matériel.
Nous sommes à la recherche de personnes qui désirent s'impliquer dans l'organisation de la manifestation du 4 mai. Nous avons un comité de MOBILISATION très actif, qui fait présentement du porte-à-porte dans Côte-des-Neiges et de l'affichage et de la diffusion partout à Montréal. Nous avons également un Comité ART qui fabrique des bannières et des images pour porter notre message durant la manifestation. Pour vous impliquer, envoyez un courriel à firstname.lastname@example.org ou appelez-nous au 514 848-7583.
Vous désirez nous rencontrer en personne? Assistez à nos réunions hebdomadaires au Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrant-es (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon) les lundis 21 et 28 AVRIL à 18h30.
Venez également à notre prochain SOUPER COMMUNAUTAIRE, qui aura lieu ce vendredi le 18 avril à 18h30, au Centre communautaire Côte-des-Neiges (5347 chemin Côte-des-Neiges, métro Côte-des Neiges). Au menu: de la bonne bouffe, de la bonne musique, des bons films, du bon monde et des moments pour partager nos histoires de lutte, de résistance et de survie. Un service de garderie sera également offert sur place.
PARTICIPEZ À UN CONTINGENT/ORGANISEZ UN CONTINGENT!
La marche "Un statut pour toutes et tous" mettra en vedette plusieurs contingents qui souligneront les divers aspects de la lutte immigrante et des enjeux portés par Solidarité sans frontières. Parmi les contingents qui prendront part à la manifestation, il y aura:
Le Bloc des PARAPLUIES ROUGES: Le parapluie rouge symbolise l'opposition à la violence faite aux travailleuses du sexe, y compris les travailleuses du sexe immigrantes. Ce contingent est organisé par Stella, un groupe de soutien et de défense des droits organisé par et pour les travailleuses du sexe. Info: email@example.com
Le PINK Bloc: Le Pink Bloc est un contingent de personnes queers-trans-alliées qui marchent en tant que membre de, et en solidarité avec, les communautés migrantes. Nous sommes engagé.e.s à comprendre les systèmes de pouvoir et de domination comme inter-reliés. Nous sortons, en rose, pour dénoncer toutes les oppressions et exiger un statut pour toutes et tous. On vous invite à porter du rose et à joindre le Pink Bloc! Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Le Bloc JUSTICE POUR ADIL: Organisé par la Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui, ce bloc mettra de l'avant l'opposition au profilage racial, à l'islamophobie, aux procès secrets et à la justice à deux vitesses. Info: email@example.com
Le Bloc JUSTICE POUR KADER: Kader Belaouni, réfugié algérien, est en sanctuaire à l'Église Pointe-Saint-Charles depuis plus de deux ans. Kader ne pourra pas assister à la manifestation, mais ses ami-es et sympathisant-es y seront et se rassembleront sous la bannière du bloc Justice pour Kader. Ce contingent est organisé par le Comité de soutien à Kader. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Le Bloc de SOLIDARITÉ AVEC LA PALESTINE: Contre l'apartheid israélien, en appui à la cause des réfugié-es palestinien-nes et en soutien au droit au retour de tous les Palestiniens et Palestiniennes, nous marcherons ensemble sous la bannière du bloc Solidarité avec la Palestine. Organisé par Tadamon! Montréal. Info: email@example.com
FESTIVAL MAI À L'OEUVRE!
La manifestation "Un statut pour toutes et tous" est le point culminant de l'événement Mai à l'oeuvre! / Mayworks!, un festival de la culture ouvrière et immigrante basé à Côte-des-Neiges. Pour la programmation complète du festival Mai à l'oeuvre, cliquez ICI.
Solidarité sans frontières endosse également la Manifestation anti-capitaliste du 1er mai, et nous vous encourageons à y assister. La manifestation aura lieu le jeudi 1er mai à 18 heures, au coin des rues Ontario et Valois (métro Joliette). 1erMai2008@gmail.com.
Vous pouvez également nous aider en nous appuyant financièrement. Que ce soit $20, $50, $100 ou plus, votre don nous aidera à défrayer les coûts de cet événement. Si vous voulez contribuer, veuillez faire un chèque à l'ordre de "Solidarité sans frontières" et nous le faire parvenir à l'adresse ci-dessous. Pour des dons en argent comptant, contactez-nous par courriel ou par téléphone.
Les chèques peuvent être envoyés à:
Solidiarité sans frontières
1500 De Maisonneuve Ouest, bureau 204
Montréal, Qc. H3G 1N1
INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org – 514 848-7583 - www.solidaritesansfrontieres.org
Immigrants, travailleurs, même combat! Ni frontières, ni prisons, arrêtons les déportations!
A march for immigrant justice,
and against poverty, racism & racial profiling
SUNDAY, MAY 4th, 12:30pm
Starting Point: Corner of Victoria & Van Horne
(metro Plamondon, Van Horne exit)
This is a child-friendly demonstration.
Food and drinks will be available.
There will be vehicles on-hand for those with reduced mobility.
As part of a National Day of Action for immigrant rights, Solidarity Across Borders is again taking to the streets, with our allies, to demand justice and dignity for all migrants. In opposition to deportations and detentions, we demand STATUS FOR ALL! There is no such thing as an "illegal" human being, only illegitimate laws and governments.
Daily, we resist deportations and detentions, we fight for justice in the workplace, we demand safe and secure housing, and we oppose racism and racial profiling. In contrast to the xenophobia promoted by the false "reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec, we take to the streets to celebrate our collective struggles for justice and dignity in all its diversity and strength.
This year, we march through the streets of Cote-des-Neiges, a predominantly poor, working class and immigrant neighbourhood. Our march will mark the culmination of "Mayworks!", a festival of working class and immigrant culture, organized by the Immigrant Workers Center (IWC). Our march is also part of the Mayday tradition, as we celebrate the struggles of working people locally and throughout the world.
Join us -- with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours -- on Sunday, May 4, and add your voice and presence to the growing numbers of people in Montreal and beyond who are demanding "STATUS FOR ALL!"
READ BELOW for more info about how you can help support the march.
The poster for the May 4 Status for All march is linked HERE.
Organized by Solidarity Across Borders, in collaboration with the Immigrant Workers Center (IWC) and Mayworks! Endorsed and supported by: The "Accommodate This!" Campaign * Les Apatrides Anonymes * L'Association des locataires de Villeray (ALV) * Bloquez l'empire Montréal * Le Centre des femmes d'ici et d'ailleurs * Center for Philippine Concerns * Le Collectif Opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * Le Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL) * Le Comité des sans-emploi Montréal-centre * Committee in support of Abdelkader Belaouni * La Coalition Justice pour Adil Charkaoui * La Coalition Justice pour Anas * DIRA Bibliothèque Anarchiste * Ici La Otra Montréal * Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee * Lamour Workers Support Committee * March 8th Committee of Women of Diverse Origins * Midnight Kitchen * No One Is Illegal-Montreal * People's Global Action Bloc (Montréal & Ottawa) * La Pointe Libertaire * PINAY (The Filipina Women's Organization of Montreal) * Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) * Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG Concordia & McGill) * Q-Team Montréal * Les Sorcières * South Asian Women's Community Center (SAWCC) * STELLA Sex Workers Organization * Tadamon! Montréal * Tamil Elders Association of Quebec * Tamil Women's Association of Quebec * Union Locale de Montréal - NEFAC
INFO: email@example.com – 514-848-7583 – www.solidarityacrossborders.org
For background to previous migrant justice marches in Montreal (2003-2007), click HERE.
ENDORSE & MOBILIZE!
We encourage your group and organization to endorse the May 4 "STATUS FOR ALL" demonstration, and to mobilize within your networks. If you endorse the demonstration, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-848-7583.
We also encourage you to announce the demonstration on your e-mail lists, blogs and websites, and at your meetings and events. If you would like to invite someone from Solidarity Across Borders to address your group, please get in touch! We can offer presentations about issues concerning migration, poverty and racism, ranging from 10 minutes to full 2-hour workshops.
If you need flyers and posters to mobilize within your networks, you can visit QPIRG-Concordia (1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204, métro Guy-Concordia, tel: 514-848-7583) or the Immigrant Workers Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon, tel: 514-342-2111).
We also have promotional materials in Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil, Farsi, Russian and other languages; get in touch to access these materials.
We encourage you to get involved in the organizing of the May 4 "STATUS FOR ALL" march and demonstration. We have an active OUTREACH committee that is meeting people door-to-door in the Cote-des-Neiges area, as well as actively flyering and postering throughout Montreal. As well, we have an ART committee that will be creating images and banners to carry our message during the demonstration. To get involved, e-mail email@example.com or phone 514-848-7583.
You can also meet us face-to-face at our weekly meetings at the Immigrant Worker's Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon), on MONDAY, APRIL 21 and MONDAY, APRIL 28 at 6:30pm.
We also encourage you to join us at our next COMMUNITY DINNER this FRIDAY, APRIL 18 at 6:30pm at the Cote-des-Neiges Community Center (5347 chemin Côte-des-Neiges, métro Côte-des Neiges). There will be tasty food, music, films and good company, as we together share our struggles of resistance and survival.
JOIN A CONTINGENT/ORGANIZE A CONTINGENT!
The Status for All March will include several contingents in support of immigrant justice that will also highlight issues supported by Solidarity Across Borders. Confirmed contingents include:
The RED UMBRELLA Bloc: The red umbrella symbolizes opposition to violence against sex workers, including migrant sex workers. Organized by Stella, a sex workers' support and justice organization, by and for sex workers. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The PINK Bloc: The pink bloc is a contingent made up of queer-trans-allies marching as members of, and in solidarity with, migrant communities. We are committed to understanding systems of power and domination as interlinked. We're coming out, in pink, to denounce all oppressions, and demand status for all!! Folks are invited to wear pink and join the pink bloc! Organized by Q-Team. Info: email@example.com
JUSTICE FOR ADIL Bloc: The Justice For Adil Bloc will highlight opposition to racial profiling, Islamophobia secret trials and two-tiered justice. Organized by the Justice for Adil Charkaoui Coalition. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
JUSTICE FOR KADER Bloc: Kader Belaouni, a refugee claimant originally from Algeria, has been in sanctuary in the Saint-Gabriel's Church in Point-St-Charles for more than two years. Kader can't attend the Status for All demonstration, but his supporters will, marching together as part of the Justice for Kader Bloc. Organized by the Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni. Info: email@example.com
The PALESTINE SOLIDARITY Bloc: In opposition to Israeli apartheid, in support of Palestinian refugees, and in defence of the right of return of all Palestinians to their homeland, we will march together as part of the Palestine Solidarity Bloc. Organized by Tadamon! Montreal. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Status for All March is the culmination of Mayworks, a festival of working class and immigrant culture, based in Cote-des-Neiges, taking place between April 25 to May 4. The full Mayworks! program is linked HERE.
Solidarity Across Borders is also endorsing the Anti-Capitalist Mayday demonstration, and encourages our allies to attend: Thursday, May 1st, 6pm, Corner of Ontario and Valois (metro Joliette). Info: 1erMai2008@gmail.com
You can also support our efforts with a donation; whether $20, $50, $100 or more, your donation will help us meet our expenses. If you can donate, please make a cheque out to "Solidarité sans frontières" and send to the address below. Alternatively, to arrange cash donations, just contact us by e-mail or phone.
Cheques can be sent to:
Soldiarité sans frontières
1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204
MONTREAL H3G 1N1
INFO: email@example.com – 514-848-7583 – www.solidarityacrossborders.org
Immigrant rights are workers rights! No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
How Benamar Benatta 'disappeared' after 9/11. The Canadian government sent him to the U.S. where he was accused of being behind the 9/11 bombings: 'The way they accused me, I thought my life was over'
Toronto's Benamar Benatta calls himself a forgotten victim of Sept. 11.
Mr. Benatta, 33, a former Algerian air force lieutenant, also has the dubious distinction of being the first victim of Canada's sometimes overzealous security response to the U.S. terror attacks.
Former Ottawa engineer Maher Arar is the best known victim of Canada's post-9/11 national security excesses. A secretive federal inquiry is now exploring what happened to three other Arab Canadians -- Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin -- who, like Mr. Arar, say they were tortured in Syria based on faulty Canadian intelligence.
Mr. Benatta's plight predates the others, but remains little known. He has also been unsuccessful at winning an official review of his case.
So he has launched a $35-million lawsuit against the federal government for what he says was his illegal removal to the U.S. as a terror suspect one day after the World Trade Centre was levelled.
Initially, he was considered a potential conspirator in the attacks. And, although he was cleared of any connection to terrorism by November 2001, he would spend almost five years in U.S. custody, where he would suffer serious degradation and mistreatment, before being mysteriously returned to this country at the behest of Canadian officials.
"You just can't take somebody who's innocent and accuse him of being involved in the worst terrorist crime -- and then just close your hands and make like nothing happened," says Mr. Benatta, who now holds refugee status in Canada.
"I would like to have answers about why. Somebody out there owes me an apology. Canada just can't take an innocent person and send him away and forget about him for five years."
Mr. Benatta will visit Ottawa on Tuesday to relate his nightmarish saga to an audience at the Public Service Alliance of Canada Hall. The next day, he will march with supporters to the Prime Minister's Office to renew his demand for a public review of his case.
His story begins in Algeria where he was born on May 16, 1974, the youngest of 10 children. Mr. Benatta joined the military at 18, and after a year of basic training, was sent to university where he studied aeronautical engineering. After graduation, he returned to the military and taught aeronautics.
But Mr. Benatta says he became uncomfortable with the military crackdown in Algeria that followed the annulled 1992 general election won by an Islamist party.
"I opposed the methods employed by the military," he says. "There were civilians caught in the line of fire."
In December 2000, he travelled to the U.S. for training with a major U.S. arms contractor, Northrup Grumman. But Mr. Benatta had secretly decided to defect: he carried with him his life's savings and his university diploma. In April 2001, he abandoned his training program and fled to New York City.
Mr. Benatta, however, figured his chances of making a successful refugee claim were better in Canada, so in early September 2001, he made for the border.
"I had the impression that Canada had protection for human rights," he says.
At the Fort Erie border crossing, Mr. Benatta presented the false green card and social security card he had obtained in New York City. When an immigration official questioned him, he admitted they were fraudulent and claimed political asylum.
He was held in custody at the Niagara Detention Centre while Canadian immigration officials confirmed his identity. Mr. Benatta was in custody on Sept. 11 and remained unaware that the world had changed drastically that morning.
The next day, he was interviewed by two officials who did not identify themselves. According to Mr. Benatta, he was asked whether he could fly a plane -- he can't -- and about his military training.
Hours later, he was placed in the back seat of a car. Mr. Benatta thought he was going to a bigger detention facility in Toronto, but instead, he was driven across the Rainbow Bridge and handed over to U.S. officials.
Mr. Benatta insists he did not withdraw his refugee claim -- as Canadian officials would later contend -- and never acceded to his transfer to the U.S.
Indeed, he says he didn't realize he had crossed the border until he saw the uniforms on the men who took him into custody.
"No one told me we were going to the States whatsoever," he says. "They just put me in the back of the car."
Mr. Benatta first learned of the terror attacks on the evening of Sept. 12 during an interview with FBI investigators. He quickly realized he was being accused of participating in the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.
"They said, 'If you co-operate now, we are going to give you a life sentence instead of death penalty,'" he says. "They did receive certain information that I am the one who trained the 19 people (hijackers) or orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks. That's the information they give to me."
Four days later, Mr. Benatta was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, where he was held along with 83 other "high interest" suspects in the FBI's investigation of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Most of the men had been detained on the strength of various immigration offences.
Mr. Benatta was held incommunicado and denied access to a lawyer; his family in Algeria thought he had disappeared.
Mr. Benatta says he repeatedly had his head slammed against the wall by MDC guards, who also shackled his legs painfully tight. He was left outside in the cold and punished for speaking to other prisoners by being denied food. The lights in his cell were kept on for 24 hours a day.
(Mr. Benatta's description of his abuse is consistent with the findings of a report by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General, which issued a damning assessment of the Brooklyn detention centre in December 2003. The U.S. Justice Department uncovered a videotape that, among other things, recorded repeated and degrading strip searches. The report recommended disciplinary action against 10 individuals for their "abusive" behaviour.)
Mr. Benatta was repeatedly interrogated by FBI agents assigned to the Terrorism Task Force.
"The way they accused me, I thought it was over," he says. "I thought they didn't find nobody who did it and they were just going to accuse me. They would present me to the people that I was the one who did it. I thought that was it: I thought my life was over."
But on Nov. 15, 2001, according to evidence later made public in U.S. District Court, the FBI officially cleared Mr. Benatta of any connection to terrorism.
Yet Mr. Benatta continued to be held in detention. He was subsequently charged with being in possession of false identification: his phony green card and social security number.
He remained incommunicado at the Brooklyn detention centre until April 30, 2002, when he was transferred to a jail in Buffalo, New York, and finally allowed access to a lawyer.
Two years after first being detained, Mr. Benatta's criminal case went before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Schroeder, who castigated federal prosecutors for their legal "shams" and "ridiculous" delays. The judge said Mr. Benatta had been denied his right to a fair and speedy trial.
Based on a recommendation from Judge Schroeder, the criminal charges against Mr. Benatta were dropped in October 2003.
But Mr. Benatta's ordeal was not over. Since he still did not have legal standing in the U.S., he applied for political asylum; he was kept in immigration detention because U.S. officials considered him a "flight risk."
After his bid for asylum was denied on April 7, 2004, he launched an appeal. He was told he could be released if he posted a $25,000 bond, but Mr. Benatta knew no one with that kind of money in the U.S.
His appeal was denied in September 2004, which meant that Mr. Benatta faced the terrifying prospect of being returned to Algeria. He believed that as a military defector, he would be imprisoned and tortured if sent back.
He appealed his deportation and won a stay of that order in January 2005, but he was not released from custody.
It was about this time that Janet Dench, director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, heard about his ordeal and began to work for Mr. Benatta's return to Canada. The Benatta case had been brought to the attention of the United Nations by the American Civil Liberties Union; his plight had also been written about by the Washington Post.
Ms. Dench began to lobby the Canadian government to recognize its critical role in the case and to make things right for Mr. Benatta.
Canada, she told federal officials, had no legal basis for removing Mr. Benatta and had a moral duty to rescue him from U.S. custody.
"It's extremely, extremely disturbing when you find officials violating the law," she says. "It's one of the most basic things you expect: that the basic requirements of the law will be followed by our officials.
"And in many ways, it's worse when it happens in the heat of the moment, on the 12th of September, because that's exactly when you need laws to be scrupulously respected."
After what she describes as a "long, slow process," Ms. Dench's representations gained traction in Ottawa.
On July 11, 2006, the Canadian government sent the U.S. Department of Homeland Security a curious letter.
Written by a Canadian consulate official in Buffalo, the letter announced that Canada would offer Mr. Benatta a temporary resident permit to allow him re-entry into this country.
In his letter, obtained by the Citizen, Consul Randy Orr confirmed that Mr. Benatta had been detained in Canada on Sept. 5, 2001. His immigration file indicates that Mr. Benatta expressed a desire to seek refugee status in Canada, Mr. Orr said, noting there is no record of such a claim.
"On September 12," Mr. Orr wrote, "Mr. Benatta was returned to the United States. Information on the file indicates this was a voluntary withdrawal. However, there is no documentation to support this, such as a copy of the 'Allowed to Leave' form, as would normally be the case."
Ms. Dench says Canadian officials should be given full credit for coming to Mr. Benatta's aid. "It certainly wasn't a full restitution," she says, "but at least they had the guts to take some action to get him out of detention."
Dressed in a prison jumpsuit and shackled, Mr. Benatta was driven back across the border to Canada on July 20, 2006.
Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), said he could not comment on the Benatta case because it's before the courts. He refused to say if the federal government continues to believe that Mr. Benatta willingly went to the U.S. "We're currently reviewing the allegations and examining the claim," Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Benatta's lawyer, Nicole Chrolavicius, says the Canadian government bears some responsibility for what happened to him.
"They were the instigators of the whole event," she says. "They identified him as a suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and then handed him over without any legal process whatsoever."
Mr. Benatta's case must be fully explored, Ms. Chrolavicius contends, because it stands as the first example of how the Canadian government moved "outside the law" after the terror attacks in New York and Washington.
"He was lifted completely out of the immigration realm, completely out of any thought of extradition, for example, lifted outside of any legal process and stuck in the back of a car and driven over the border," she says. "He was not deported, or removed, or refouled. He was transferred outside the scope of any lawful authority ...This was an illegal rendition."
Mr. Benatta's lawsuit alleges that Canadian officials later attempted to cover-up their misconduct by falsely suggesting that Mr. Benatta withdrew his refugee claim in Canada. The allegations in the lawsuit must be proven in court.
The federal government has yet to file a statement of defence in the case and is attempting to have the matter moved to Federal Court.
For his part, Mr. Benatta wants answers to some fundamental questions. Why was he sent to the U.S. without due process? What did Canadian security officials tell their U.S. counterparts about him? Why did Canadian officials act so rashly when he was already in custody? Why didn't Canadian security agencies do their own assessment of his alleged connections to 9/11? Why did the Canadian government not seek his return until 2006?
"Why throw me in the car like a package and deliver me like I'm nobody?" he asks.
Mr. Benatta now lives on social assistance in Toronto. He has been unable to get work, he says, because his name has been tied to terrorism. He also finds it hard to explain the five-year gap in his resume. He holds out little hope of resuming his career as an aeronautics engineer.
In November, Mr. Benatta finally won his claim for refugee status in Canada -- a milestone he regards as bittersweet."After seven years of fighting, that was a relief. I am very grateful to Canada to be provided protection here," he says. "But I can't get on with my life. Not yet."
No double standard, say Sikh supporters of failed refugee claimant
David Carrigg, The ProvincePublished: Monday, January 28, 2008
Supporters of failed refugee claimant Laibar Singh are mounting a campaign to ensure Sikh temples continue to offer the same sanctuary a church provides.
"Violating the sanctuary of a gurudwara [temple] while the sanctuary of churches has largely been respected will set a dangerous double standard," Cynthia Wright, of York University's school of women's studies in Toronto, said in a statement.
Singh, who has twice avoided deportation as a result of protests by his supporters, is living in Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh temple in the belief the government will not enter and remove him.
Singh entered Canada on a false Indian passport, then failed in a bid for refugee status. He is paralyzed due a medical condition that occurred while in Canada.
His supporters claim he will die if he is returned to India for lack of medical care.
They staged a rally at the Surrey temple yesterday to pressure the government into not deporting Singh. The rally was backed by protests in 13 other cities across Canada.
Rev. Margaret Marquardt, chairwoman of the justice and peace unit of the Anglican Church, said that granting sanctuary is a "sacred responsibility" and that the government has "no business in the sanctuaries of this nation."
Denise Nadeau, of Simon Fraser University's interfaith summer institute, said: "It is unconscionable that the government continues to insist on the deportation of a paralyzed man from sanctuary, simply to look strong."
A May 2007 report by the House of Commons standing committee on citizenship and immigration recommended that law officials respect the right of churches and other religious organizations to provide sanctuary to those they believe need protection.
Canada Border and Services Agency has not set a deadline for a third attempt at deporting Singh.
Ron Moran, president of the Customs and Excise Union which represents border guards, has said B.C. border guards have been told by managers that Singh will be deported at some point.
Moran said the morale of guards has been affected because of the failed efforts to deport him.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said last week that deportation orders stand, whether or not their subjects are in sanctuary.
"They are in defiance of the law if they are not subjecting themselves to that removal order. That is the state of the situation," Day said.
OTTAWA - The Federal Court of Appeal has put a freeze on a recent ruling that overturned a controversial refugee pact between Canada and the United States.
In a decision Thursday, Chief Justice John Richard said there should be a full airing of arguments before the Safe Third Country Agreement is suspended.
Under the agreement, which took effect in December 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection.
It means Canada can turn back potential refugees at the Canada-U.S. border on the basis they must pursue their claims in the U.S., the country where they first arrived.
Canadian refugee advocates have vigorously fought the deal, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution.
Critics say claimants, including children, are often imprisoned for months or even years south of the border while their applications are processed.
In addition, more restrictive American rules and interpretation of who qualifies as a refugee mean that in the past some rejected by the U.S. were later accepted by Canada.
The Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International successfully contested the agreement in Federal Court.
In a November decision, Justice Michael Phelan ruled the federal cabinet exceeded its jurisdiction in adopting the new system, saying the U.S. does not comply with United Nations conventions concerning the status of refugees and prohibition of torture.
He also concluded the return of a refugee claimant to the U.S. from Canada violated Charter of Rights guarantees of equality and life, liberty and security.
The government asked the Court of Appeal to put the ruling on hold, arguing a sudden end to the Safe Third Country Agreement would prompt an influx of refugees into Canada from the United States, overwhelming border officers.
Janet Dench, executive director of the Council for Refugees, was dismayed by the latest decision.
"Obviously we're extremely disappointed and actually shocked that the court would put the administrative convenience of the government over the lives of refugees," she said.
"We know that people do come up to the border, are turned back and end up deported to their country of origin."
Among the council's submissions to the court was an affidavit from a woman whose husband was killed in Honduras after being detained at the Canadian border, sent back to the United States and deported.
Richard noted in his ruling, however, that there was no evidence that the man made a refugee claim in the U.S. or of the circumstances surrounding his deportation.
Still, Dench pointed to the case Thursday as reason to be worried.
"The stakes are really high," she said. "We don't know for sure in coming months whether this will happen to other people. But there's certainly a very real possibility that people will end up being sent back to face persecution, torture or even death."
In 2006, some 400 people were turned away at the Canadian border based on the Safe Third Country provisions.
Dench noted the Court of Appeal has agreed to an expedited review, but the hearing is likely some months away and a decision many months after that.
"It's not a good day."
Despite the ruling Thursday, New Democrat MP Olivia Chow said she would try next week to put a motion before the Commons immigration committee to end the Safe Third Country agreement.
If successful, the motion would go to the full Commons for a vote, potentially pre-empting the coming appeal hearing.
La Presse Canadienne
Les procureurs d'Adil Charkaoui, qui fait l'objet d'un certificat de sécurité depuis 2003 parce qu'on le soupçonne d'avoir été lié à des organisations terroristes, a argué jeudi devant la Cour suprême du Canada que la preuve contre lui était biaisée.
Me Dominique Larochelle, qui représente le ressortissant d'origine marocaine, a soutenu devant le plus haut tribunal du pays que les services secrets avaient brimé les droits fondamentaux de M. Charkaoui en détruisant les enregistrements et les transcriptions des interrogatoires menés dans le cadre de l'enquête sur lui.
L'avocate de M. Charkaoui affirme par ailleurs que l'enquête du Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité (SCRS) était biaisé et que le ministre de l'Immigration qui a signé le certificat de sécurité en 2003 ne disposait pas de tous les éléments nécessaires pour prendre une décision éclairée.
De l'avis de Me Larochelle, ces manquements justifieraient la révocation du certificat qui a valu 21 mois de détention à son client.
Plusieurs organisations appuient Adil Charkaoui et ont plaidé en sa faveur. C'est notamment le cas de l'Association du Barreau canadien, du Barreau du Québec et d'Amnistie internationale.
La plupart de ces groupes estiment que le SCRS devrait absolument conserver tous les documents, notes et enregistrements susceptibles de servir à incriminer une personne ou de justifier sa détention.
Pour l'avocate d'Amnistie internationale, Vanessa Gruben, il est actuellement impossible pour le juge chargé d'évaluer la pertinence d'un certificat de sécurité de savoir si les renseignements à sa disposition ont été recueillis en ayant recours à des méthodes légales.
Cette question est fondamentale puisque l'histoire prouve que les informations obtenues par des moyens illégaux tels que la torture ne sont pas toujours fiables, a-t-elle expliqué en substance.
Un juge qui se baserait sur de tels renseignements brimerait les droits de l'accusé en plus de contrevenir à plusieurs traités internationaux ratifiés par le Canada, a-t-elle ajouté dans son exposé.
Le procureur général du Canada, représenté par Me Claude Joyal, a répliqué que le SCRS était une entité civile et, qu'en conséquence, sa politique de gestion de l'information devait être différente de celle d'un corps policier.
Il a expliqué que les employés du service pouvaient détruire les documents contenant des informations «inutiles» et «périphériques» dans le but de protéger la vie privée des personnes concernées.
Les renseignements obtenus par le SCRS deviennent en effet publics 20 ans après le décès des individus surveillés.
Il a assuré que cette pratique ne rendait pas les résumés biaisés pour autant.
Le Procureur général de l'Ontario, Me Michael Bernstein, a abondé dans le même sens. Il est allé jusqu'à comparer le SCRS à un hôpital et à une école «qui peuvent parfois se retrouver en possession d'information qui sera un jour utile à une enquête criminelle» mais qui ne sont pas tenus de conserver toutes leurs notes sur tout le monde.
La Cour a pris la cause d'Adil Charkaoui en délibéré. À sa sortie du tribunal, le Montréalais semblait très confiant.
«Je commence à respirer et j'espère que j'aurai justice», a-t-il confié aux médias qui l'attendaient dans le hall de la Cour suprême, à Ottawa.
Son avocate, Me Larochelle, s'est elle aussi dite très optimiste parce qu'elle estime
que le gouvernement a eu beaucoup de mal à justifier son comportement.
«Défendre l'indéfendable, c'est assez difficile. Défendre des politiques du gouvernement qui ne sont pas justifiées, qui ne tiennent pas compte des droits de la personne dans le cadre d'une procédure qui entraîne des conséquences aussi graves pour la vie de la personne, c'est une affaire qui est très difficile», a-t-elle insisté.
Mohamed Harkat sera lui aussi devant les tribunaux aujourd'hui. L'homme d'origine algérienne, mis en liberté sous conditions en mai 2006, a été arrêté mercredi alors qu'il prenait sa douche dans son domicile de la région d'Ottawa. L'Agence des services frontaliers affirme qu'il a violé ses conditions de mise en liberté. M. Harkat contestera cette décision devant la Cour fédérale.
L'enseignant d'origine marocaine estime que ces manquements justifient la révocation du certificat dont il est l'objet depuis 2003 et qui lui a valu 21 mois de détention.
La Cour fédérale, qui siège dans le même édifice, entendra pendant ce temps les avocats de Mohammed Harkat, qui a été arrêté mardi, alors qu'il prenait sa douche chez lui. Le ressortissant d'origine algérienne était en liberté surveillée depuis 2006.
Depuis sa sortie de prison, il doit notamment porter un bracelet électronique et être accompagné en tout temps de sa femme, de sa belle-mère, ou d'un autre gardien autorisé.
Les motifs de son arrestation demeurent flous, mais les autorités ont laissé entendre qu'il n'avait pas respecté toutes les conditions que lui avait imposées le tribunal. Ses proches soutiennent pour leur part qu'il est victime de harcèlement.
«Nous considérons que cette arrestation est un prétexte, un moyen d'entretenir l'hystérie contre le terrorisme au Canada.
Ça sert de justification au gouvernement pour adopter une nouvelle loi injuste», a insisté un ami de la famille Harkat, Christian Legeais.
M. Legeais était au Parlement mercredi en compagnie de proches des cinq hommes musulmans visés par des certificats de sécurité et du président du Conseil musulman de Montréal, l'imam Salam Elmenyawi.
Lors d'un point de presse auquel assistait Adil Charkaoui, ils ont officiellement demandé aux députés de tous les partis de voter contre le projet de loi C-3, qui modifie le régime des certificats de sécurité, jugés inconstitutionnels en février dernier.
La loi prévoit entre autres la nomination «d'avocats spéciaux» comme cela se fait déjà en Grande-Bretagne. Ces procureurs auraient accès au dossier secret du présumé terroriste et pourraient donc mettre en doute la pertinence et l'importance des faits allégués lors d'audiences à huis clos. Il ne pourrait cependant discuter de la preuve avec personne, pas même son client.
D'après les proches des personnes visées par des certificats, les changements proposés sont insuffisants et perpétueraient l'injustice et le racisme. «On ne veut pas une justice à deux vitesse», a insisté la mère d'Adil Charkaoui, Latifa Charkaoui.
À l'instar de groupe de défense des droits humains, les proches des personnes visées par un certificat veulent la disparition pure et simple de cette procédure.
Ils affirment qu'on devrait traiter les présumés terroristes «comme des citoyens canadiens» et leur faire un procès formel au lieu de les enfermer sans même leur dire ce qui leur est reproché.
Le Bloc québécois et le Nouveau Parti démocratique ont déjà laissé savoir qu'ils s'opposeraient à la nouvelle législation telle que formulée. Le sort du projet de loi dépend donc du Parti libéral qui n'a pas encore fait connaître sa position.
L'ancien régime disparaîtra automatiquement le 23 février prochain, qu'Ottawa ait réussi à le remplacer ou pas.
Richard Foot , Canwest News ServicePublished: Monday, January 28, 2008
The federal government is having trouble recruiting an experienced pool of lawyers to work as "special advocates" on behalf of terror suspects under Canada's security certificate law.
So far, only 50 lawyers have responded to a month-long, national recruitment campaign by the Department of Justice, aimed at finding a list of experienced practitioners who can defend people facing deportation in secret judicial hearings.
Those 50 applications may be enough from which to find a list of advocates, but they represent only a tiny fraction of the 57,000 practising lawyers in Canada.
Last week, as a result of the poor turnout, the Justice Department extended the application deadline from Jan. 15 to Feb. 1.
"Given the nature of what it is lawyers are being asked to do, it doesn't surprise me that there hasn't been an overwhelming response," says Lorne Waldman, a Toronto lawyer who represented wrongly accused terrorist Maher Arar.
Waldman says many lawyers are deeply conflicted about participating in the controversial system. On the one hand, they feel a duty to ensure people have the best legal defence possible. On the other hand, they consider the law an affront to civil liberties and don't want to lend it legitimacy by taking part.
Some, he says, are worried about being labelled as traitors by colleagues if they participate in the system - an epithet that was thrown at lawyers in Britain who took part in a similar process.
Both the Canadian Bar Association and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada have criticized the proposed security certificate law as unconstitutional.
Security certificates are an extraordinary immigration tool that allows the government to detain and deport foreigners and permanent residents who are considered a threat to national security.
Suspects aren't allowed to see the evidence against them, or participate in the secret judicial hearings to determine their fate.
Three accused terrorists challenged the system at the Supreme Court of Canada, which last year said the law was unconstitutional - but necessary in an age of terrorism - and gave Ottawa one year to reform the law to bring it in line with the Charter of Rights.
The Conservative government hopes to do that with legislation to create special advocates - independent, security-cleared lawyers - to act on behalf of accused persons.
The government says the advocates will be allowed to see the evidence against suspects, but cannot discuss it with them without a judge's explicit permission.
Many critics say that kind of restriction does not satisfy the Constitution and will not allow special advocates to properly defend those accused under the law.
A similar system in the United Kingdom has been harshly criticized by politicians, lawyers and human rights advocates in that country, and also made it difficult for the British government to retain a list of special advocates.
In Canada, "the low number of applications for special advocate positions may stem from concerns about the proposed security certificate legislation, Bill C-3," says Vanessa Gruben, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. "There are concerns among the legal community that the model proposed in Bill C-3 falls short of the constitutional standard set by the Supreme Court."
Waldman says no defence lawyer wants to work in a system that "fundamentally abrogates" the right of an accused to know the evidence against them. He also says that to be effective, special advocates will need skills and experience in the immigration field, plus an understanding of the national anti-terror apparatus.
"It'll be extremely demanding work," he says. "I've talked to some of my close colleagues about whether they're applying. There's a lot of concern about how it's going to operate. But there's also a sense that qualified people should apply, because if we're going to make the system work, we have to have lawyers with experience and commitment on that list."
The current security certificate law will expire next month, unless Parliament passes the new legislation before Feb. 23.
Il doit être présenté, dans un délai de 48 heures, à un juge de la Cour fédérale qui décidera de son sort.
Selon son avocat, la principale violation qui lui est reprochée est le fait que sa belle-mère, qui est une des garantes du respect des conditions de sa liberation, n'habitait plus en permanence dans la même maison que lui et sa femme.
M. Harkat n'avait cependant jamais été laissé seul dans la maison, a assuré Me Copeland.
«Sa femme était avec lui à la maison lorsqu'il a été arrêté, alors qu'il prenait sa douche», a-t-il dit.
L'avocat avait par ailleurs prévu, avant même l'arrestation de son client, de présenter lundi prochain une demande au tribunal pour que les conditions de sa libération soient assouplies afin de permettre à sa famille de mener une vie normale.
Mohamed Harkat avait été arrêté en décembre 2002 en vertu d'un «certificat de sécurité», une procédure qui permet aux autorités de détenir sans procès des étrangers soupçonnés de terrorisme sur la base d'informations secrètes.
Il avait obtenu en juin 2006 sa libération conditionnelle, mais devait porter un bracelet électronique, demeurer sous la supervision de son épouse ou d'autres membres de la famille et demander l'autorisation pour effectuer des déplacements ou rencontrer une personne.
Mohamed Harkat est soupçonné par le Service canadien de renseignement et de sécurité (SCRS) de faire partie d'une cellule dormante d'Al-Qaeda.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Churches, temples home to several adults, at least one family
KEN MEANEY, Canwest News ServiceIt may be cold comfort, but Abdelkader Belaouni, an Algerian refugee claimant who has been living in sanctuary in a Montreal church for over two years, is not alone.
Church basements and temples from St. John's, N.L., to Surrey, B.C. are home to six other adults and at least one family who have taken the desperate measure of seeking refuge to avoid a deportation order.
In Angela Portnoy's case, her five children have practically grown up in a church in Marystown, N.L. They've been living in the basement of Sacred Heart since October 2005, when they were ordered deported.
The tradition of places of worship as sanctuary goes back to ancient times, says Norma McCord, a United Church member in Ottawa who works with a network that assists refugee claimants.
But it can be a perilous refuge.
Four years ago, Quebec City police dragged Mohamed Cherfi, a failed refugee claimant, from a local church - the only time Canadian police have ever disregarded a church sanctuary.
In Surrey, B.C., this month, authorities had to back down after trying to remove Laibar Singh from the Sikh temple where the paralyzed refugee claimant has lived since Dec. 15.
A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, Chris Williams, says the law does not recognize sanctuary.
"The fact a person is hiding in a place of worship to avoid removal doesn't affect his case," he said. The agency is aware of eight cases of people in sanctuary across the country.
Those who leave sanctuary lose even that slim protection. Several people have been arrested while outside - including Alexi Portnoy, Angela's husband, who was later deported.
A warrant also was issued for Angela last October, when her application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was turned down.
There also is no protection for those providing the haven.
In its handbook for clergy on sanctuary, the United Church notes: "Those who offer sanctuary must realize ... assisting a refugee in that act of avoiding removal is breaking the law." Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees says people whose refugee claims have been turned down have three avenues: an appeal to the federal court, which hears only one of 10 cases put before it; an appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, which doesn't stay the deportation; and a risk assessment before the actual removal is carried out.
Alexi Kolosovs's appeal of his deportation order will be heard by the federal court in Toronto on Feb. 4.
Kolosovs argues he should be allowed to stay in Canada because of his unique skills as a netmaker, the impact on his grandchildren - who live an hour away - of losing him, and the fact he'll be sent back to Latvia, where he has no family and cannot speak the language. He also says the Immigration Department took too long - seven years - to decide to deport him.
Dench says while very few appeals are successful, people who seek sanctuary are often allowed to stay in Canada.
"It reflects the fact that many times a church, before they will decide to offer sanctuary, they will look very closely into the case. They don't offer sanctuary because somebody asks for it, they do it because they look at it and say this is a very, very compelling case. Presumably, that is part of the reason why, when the immigration officer or the minister looks at it, they see the same argument."
Friday, January 18, 2008
They've filed a motion arguing that a military tribunal has no jurisdiction over Khadr because he was 15 years old when he allegedly threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.
The motion contends that trying Khadr at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay would violate international law.
It is one of several motions being filed on behalf of Khadr, who's charged with murder in the 2002 death of American medic Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer in Afghanistan. He is also charged with spying, conspiracy and supporting terrorism.
Another motion argues the war crimes system set up by U.S. President George W. Bush to try terror suspects is unconstitutional because it was designed only for non-Americans.
Some of the defence motions are expected to be considered at a hearing next month.
Joël-Denis Bellavance and Gilles Toupin will have to answer questions about how they obtained leaked documents from a retired Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent that formed the basis for an article they wrote in June alleging Charkaoui once had conversations about a plan to hijack a plane and fly it into a building in Europe.
The journalists, both reporters for Montreal newspaper La Presse, must answer questions from Charkaoui's lawyers, who want to know more about the source who leaked the CSIS documents.
Noël ruled in favour of Charkaoui, stating that "the administration of justice and Mr. Charkaoui's fundamental rights have primacy over journalistic privilege and protecting sources."
Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born father of three, has been accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, and is subject to a ministerial security certificate issued in May 2003 that severely restricts his movement and activities.The CSIS documents obtained by Bellavance and Toupin were the main source of information for an article published on June 22, 2007 that alleged Charkaoui attended two al-Qaeda training camps and discussed a bomb plot with Hashim Tahir in June 2000.
The article alleged the leaked document was the basis for the 2003 security certificate against Charkaoui, based on information provided by the source.
In his ruling, Noël wrote that the document — Former Terrorist Training Camps in Afghanistan: Major Sites and Assessment — does exist, but is not part of the body of secret evidence used by the federal government to issue the security certificate.
Charkaoui's lawyers wanted to see the document because they have been denied full access to evidence the government used to justify the certificate.
Charkaoui has acknowledged he had hired Tahir to work in a pizzeria, played soccer with him and saw him regularly at a mosque, but has denied he was involved in a plot to fly a plane into a building.
Bellavance has already appeared at one of Charkaoui's trials to answer questions about the document. During his testimony, he refused to reveal the identity of his CSIS sources, citing journalistic privilege.
Charkaoui is involved in several court cases fighting his security certificate, which could lead to his eventual deportation to Morocco.
Later this year, the Supreme Court will hear his appeal contesting security certificate proceedings launched against him, in which he argues CSIS used tainted evidence to detain him.
The top court struck down ministerial certificates in February 2007, ruling they violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the ruling was suspended until next month to allow the federal government sufficient time to recast its security laws.
On Thursday, a Federal Court judge struck down the contentious Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States.
The agreement, which came into force in 2004, requires would-be refugees to make their claims in the first of the two countries in which they land. That has prevented claimants from landing in the U.S. and crossing the border to make an application in Canada, significantly reducing the number of claimants.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the number of claims filed at its land border offices in the U.S. dropped by 40 per cent in the year after the change.
Under this agreement, the U.S. is considered a safe third country. But in November, Justice Michael Phelan found the U.S. does not meet international requirements for protecting refugees or conventions against torture.
On Thursday, the judge went a step further, ruling the agreement would end on Feb. 1. But Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokeswoman Karen Shadd-Evelyn says the government will appeal, seeking a stay of the judge's decision until a higher court settles the issue.When the agreement was put in place, the government said the aim was to end "asylum shopping."
But the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International and a Colombian asylum seeker living in the U.S. filed a lawsuit against the agreement in Federal Court. The groups cited Maher Arar's deportation to Syria and subsequent torture as an illustration of the treatment refugees could face from U.S. authorities in the post-Sept. 11 era.
"Unfortunately the Canadian government, like many governments, is looking for ways to reduce the number of refugees that claim protection here," Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, told CBC News.
On 18 January, 2008 supporters sent a loud, clear message to the Canadian Immigration Minister to Act NOW to regularize the status of Abdelkader Belaouni.
CBC News (6m30s into the video) - click HERE
Television Radio Canada - cliquez ICI
Info 690 - cliquez ICI
The Gazette, Marchers Seek Humanitarian Reprieve - click HERE
Le Devoir, Réfugié depuis 750 jours dans un presbytère- cliquez ICI
Le Journal de Montréal, Manifestation en faveur d'Abdelkader- cliquez ICI
Red Deer Advocate, Letter to the Editor - click HERE
The McGill Tribune, Algerian Avoids Deportation - click HERE
The Hour, Two Years and Counting - click HERE
Two Years Too Many - Click HERE
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Janvier 2008 sera déterminant pour Abdelkader Belaouni, cet Algérien aveugle réfugié depuis maintenant plus de deux ans dans un presbytère pour éviter la déportation dans son pays d'origine.
Hier, dans une dizaine de villes canadiennes, dont Montréal, des centaines de Canadiens ont manifesté pour réclamer du gouvernement conservateur qu'il réévalue le dossier de Abdelkader pour enfin lui accorder le droit de résidence au Canada.
Il y a une dizaine d'années, Abdelkader avait fui la guerre civile dans son pays d'origine pour se réfugier aux États-Unis. Puis, après les attentats de 2001 au World Trade Center, avec le resserrement des mesures de sécurité aux É.-U., il a dû fuir de nouveau parce que les Américains voulaient le déporter en Algérie.
Craignant pour sa vie, il s'était réfugié au Canada. On lui a refusé le statut de réfugié politique et on lui refuse le statut d'immigrant parce, étant aveugle, il ne peut subvenir lui-même à ses besoins.
Craignant d'être déporté en Algérie, en 2006, Abdelkader a demandé et obtenu asile dans le presbytère de l'église Saint- Gabriel à Pointe-Saint-Charles.
Hier, il en était à son 748e jour de réclusion volontaire. Il ne peut sortir du presbytère de crainte d'être enlevé par les services d'immigration et d'être déporté en Algérie.
Plusieurs centaines de citoyens, les partis politiques d'opposition et près de 250 organismes de tous les horizons ont déjà accordé leur appui au demandeur de statut de réfugié et implorent la ministre Diane Finlay de réviser son dossier et de lui accorder la résidence canadienne pour des raisons humanitaires.
En janvier, le comité d'appui à Abdelkader entend organiser des manifestations dans plusieurs villes, envoyer des chaînes de lettres à la ministre de l'Immigration, organiser un concert de solidarité qui se tiendra le 26 janvier à l'église Saint-Gabriel et tenir une exposition de photos qui révélera au public le genre de vie que doit mener le réfugié depuis qu'il a demandé asile.
PUBLICATION: Le Journal de Montréal
ILLUSTRATION: 1. PHOTO D'ARCHIVES Abdelkader Belaouni vit dans une église.
BYLINE: GILLES PILON LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL
Sunday, January 13, 2008
BBC Focus on Africa magazine
While many young Algerians are risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean on fishing boats to find opportunities abroad, Africans from south of the Sahara are risking their lives through dry and hot deserts to live and work in Algeria.
Marcel, 31, is one of the lucky African migrants to have made it into the country - more than 30,000 try each year.
The Ivorian says he entered Algeria legally through the borders with Mali and Niger, after obtaining a three-month visa on arrival.
But six months on he is still here - he wanted to carry on his education but dropped out at secondary level to support his family.
He pays around $2 a night to sleep with seven other immigrants in a single room in a dilapidated building, which he describes as an "African ghetto."
Lost in the desert
Clandestine immigrants in Algeria constitute 50 African nationalities, with Mali, Niger and the Gambia topping the list.
Sudanese and Libyan immigrants also find their way to the country.
It is easy to see why. Algeria is booming economically.
The country's foreign debt has fallen from $28 billion in 1999 to only $5 billion today, thanks largely to high oil prices and the government's tight fiscal policies.
But these young men risk the ire of the Algerian border police, not only to take advantage of this booming economy, but also with the hope of entering Europe over the Mediterranean.
Marcel himself spent the equivalent of $200 on his journey from Ivory Cost.
The truck that carried him and 44 others from the city of Kidal in Mali to their destination in Algeria became lost in the desert.
"I spent four days with little drink before the driver could find his way again," he recalled.
He says that he saw fellow passengers die in front of him on the journey.
"These immigrants prefer to risk their lives to come to Algeria rather than go to other neighbouring countries because - job opportunities aside - they know that if they perish on Algerian soil the authorities will work to identify their origins and send them back to their countries," says Sami Riyad, a journalist with the main Algerian independent El-Khabar daily.
"If unsuccessful, they will be buried properly here."
In comparison to its North African neighbours Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, Algeria is bearing the brunt of an immigration influx.
In response, the border authorities have set up a detention centre near the city of Maghnia where hundreds of illegal immigrants are being held awaiting deportation.
"It costs the Algerian government about $200 per person to deport them," Mr Riyad says.
But this does not necessarily mean Algerians welcome the immigrants.
"We feel a bit of racism here," says Marcel.
"Kids throw stones at us. We can't make friends with Algerians."
Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that, despite an oil-and-gas-rich economy that is rapidly heating up, there are not enough jobs for Algerians themselves.
The country currently has an official unemployment rate of 15%, although it is believed by some analysts to be double that.
Much ink has been spent in deploring the state of illegal Africans on the streets of the country's cities, but even more has been devoted to stories alleging that they are the cause of the increase in illegal activities such as trading in counterfeit currencies, goods and passports as well as the smuggling of drugs.
However, despite the challenges some Algerians feel black Africans pose to authorities in the country, the foreigners that many young Algerians are eyeing with caution are the Chinese migrants.
"The Africans don't pose a threat to us," says Mourad, a 30-year old medical consultant who lives in the middle-class area of Al-Biar, south of Algiers.
"They are just passing by. However, the Chinese workers seem to come here to stay. They have set up businesses and shops, and even started marrying Algerians."
And the fact that the Chinese are seen as muscling in on an already crowded job market has resulted in many young professionals looking to leave Algeria.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The CBC’s new show can only help “the bad guys”
The phrase “defend the border” wasn’t always a metaphor. And it isn’t just a metaphor in many parts of the world, even today: some states do have to worry about overland military invasions.
Canada is not such a state. To the degree that it is, the only conceivable invader is, of course, the United States. Those in Canada who talk about “defending the border” are distinctly unconcerned about such a possibility. They are, instead, making an analogy for a set of power institutions designed to keep “them” out and “us” safe.
Some argue that the threat of terrorism to Canada is so great that it outweighs any mushy, politically correct concerns. The historian J.L. Granatstein, in his book, “Whose War Is It?” makes such claims (1). So, with its new show, does the CBC, a point to which I’ll return below. Stripped down to basics, his argument is that Canada, to be safe, needs to subordinate its foreign policy to the US and join its War on Terror wholeheartedly, instead of half-heartedly. The most incredible aspect of his book, however, is that Granatstein relies on fiction – literally, entirely fictional scenarios about Muslim terrorists releasing poison gas in a Toronto subway at the same time as a natural disaster on the West Coast – to demonstrate how Canada needs to have better military preparedness. Granatstein can’t find real threats to justify his policy suggestions, so he makes them up. The detention of over a dozen young Muslim men in Toronto for over a year, accused of some sort of convoluted terrorist plot and possibly entrapped by the authorities, suggests that perhaps Canada’s police and intelligence agencies are also in the business of making up threats (2).To read more click HERE