Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Benamar Benatta website

Below is a summary of the history of Benatta's ordeals. At the Iacobucci inquiry, Iacobucci refused to consider his case because it was outside of his terms of reference. There is now a Benatta website from which this is copied.

Mr. Benatta is a 33 year old Algerian citizen who trained as an aeronautical engineer. He came to North America to flee political persecution and threats to his life while serving in the Algerian Armed Forces. On September 5, 2001 Mr. Benatta crossed the border into Canada and claimed political asylum. His biggest fear was being returned to Algeria where he was certain to be tortured or killed for deserting the military. Canadian authorities put Mr. Benatta into immigration detention while they tried to ascertain his identity.

While in Canadian custody and unbeknown to Mr. Benatta, terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York City and other targets on September 11, 2001. Canadian officials alerted U.S. officials to the presence of Mr. Benatta, presumably because he is a Muslim man who knows something about airplanes. Without a hearing, without counsel and without conducting proceedings in his first language (French), Mr. Benatta was unceremoniously driven over the border in the back of a car by Canadian officials and handed over to U.S. officials on September 12, 2001. This was an illegal transfer. This action by Canadian officials was the beginning of a long nightmare for Mr. Benatta.

Mr. Benatta was held in the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, New York, where he was treated as a suspect in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was beaten. He was abused. He was held in conditions that the United Nations described as torture. He was forgotten.

Mr. Benatta was actually cleared of any terrorist activity by the FBI in November 2001; however, he was never told that he was cleared because he was being held incommunicado and did not have access to a lawyer.

In all, Mr. Benatta, an innocent man, spent nearly FIVE years of his life in American prisons in conditions that could be described as torture as found by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in an Opinion adopted in 2004. Mr. Benatta also suffered serious abuse at the hands of his prison guards, which is documented by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Canadian Government, various agencies and government officials all bear some measure of responsibility for Mr. Benatta’s ordeal. Mr. Benatta has been allowed to return to Canada to resume his claim for refugee status. His application is pending. He is trying to get his life back. He is trying to find out the truth about why this happened to him.

No comments: