Sunday, June 3, 2012

UN reports chastizes Canada for not acting on rendition of three Muslim Canadians

A recent report by the UN Committee Against Torture takes the Canadian government to task for what they call not taking seriously their complicity in renditions of Canadian citizens to countries such as Syria and Egypt.

Strictly speaking the only case that was actually a rendition was of Maher Arar. They did take that seriously. The rendition was not by Canada but the U.S. Maher was arrested when he is was in the U.S. simply transferring planes on a trip back to Canada. The U.S. authorities declared that Arar was an Al Qaeda operative and shipped him back to Syria where he was interrogated and tortured. The Maher Inquiry was extensive and found that Arar had no terrorist connections. The Canadian government negotiated a settlement with Arar for about ten million dollars in compensation. The U.S. refused to cooperate with the Arar inquiry and the U.S. still has Arar on a no fly list and presumably considers him an Al Qaeda operative.

The Canadian government wanted to make sure nothing more than a tongue lashing would come from the Iacobucci Inquiry that was very narrowly focused. The Inquiry was almost all done behind closed doors with not even lawyers for the three men who had been jailed in Syria and Egypt being allowed in to sessions where intelligence officers were questioned. Some groups withdrew from participation in disgust.

The three Canadian Muslims were not directly rendered. I call it rendering light or opportunistic rendering. Intelligence operatives waited until the men involved visited Syria for different reasons and then had them arrested so they could be interrogated on matters of terrorism. None of the three have had any compensation as yet. In neither inquiry was there ever any punishment of officials for wrongdoing. Of course the U.S. which was involved in direct rendition has never punished anyone. In fact Obama has not even abolished rendition.

The report also urged the government to repatriate Omar Khadr held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo from the age of 16. He signed a plea deal in which he plead guilty to charges that was supposed to see him transferred to Canada but the Canadian government has never followed through. For more see this article.

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