Toronto / Ottawa – Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) recently made submissions to the Arar inquiry regarding an independent, arm’s-length review mechanism for the RCMP’s activities involving national security. The submissions were made as part of the Policy Review mandate of the inquiry, which runs concurrently with an ongoing Factual Inquiry into the Canadian government’s involvement in the Maher Arar affair.
The submissions to the inquiry focused both on the need to protect essential rights and freedoms and the importance of ensuring transparency and accountability of RCMP investigations involving national security. On the issue of protecting rights and freedoms, the submission describes the context within which RCMP abuses of rights and freedoms of Arab and Muslim communities have occurred, and provides nine recommendations on how such abuses may be curtailed. On the issue of accountability, the submission calls for the creation of an RCMP review body that is independent, has investigative, adjudicative, remedial and reporting functions, and is accountable to the public through Parliament. In addition, the submission calls for the creation of a special parliamentary committee to review all Canadian national security and intelligence activities.
The entire submission may be viewed at: http://www.caf.ca/t_publications/OtherPub/POLICY%20REVIEW%20SUBMISSIONS%20FEB05.pdf
“It is our profound hope that the Commission will safeguard Canadians from systemic failures by advancing recommendations that redefine the security paradigm and protect civil rights and freedoms,” said Omar Alghabra, CAF president. “While it is critical that we all find out what has transpired with regards to Mr. Arar, this inquiry is in essence about preserving the rights of all Canadians.”
“The Arar case has eroded the legitimacy of the RCMP as a Canadian institution in the eyes of many Canadians and current accountability mechanisms have proven inadequate in answering the troubling questions regarding Arar’s deportation and torture,” said CAIR-CAN Executive Director Riad Saloojee. “A transparent and effective oversight mechanism is critical in restoring the confidence in our national police service.”
Recently, Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, Shirley Heafey, underscored the same concerns in her report to the Arar Commission and stated that “effective, ongoing review is a key aspect of police accountability [and] there is an urgent need for reform if we are to have effective civilian review of RCMP conduct.”
Omar Alghabra, CAF president, (905) 302-6787
Riad Saloojee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director, (613) 254-9704; Cell: (613) 286-0597