CAF opposes the Canadian government’s stance on indigenous rights

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) is alarmed at the Canadian government’s position at the United Nation this week. Despite overwhelming support by the international community for indigenous people’s rights, Canada has chosen to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, even though the international community has been working on this issue for over 20 years.

The Canadian government has not lived up to its own commitment and record on this issue. After playing a major role in negotiating common ground between stakeholders (indigenous peoples and participating countries), the current government has regressed from its promises.

This position by the current government is another disappointment added to the fact that Canada had led a failed vote against the declaration at the Human Rights Council last year and had recently made public its continued opposition to the declaration. It is very regrettable to see our government abandoning our values and commitment to justice.

In accordance with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recent statement, “[…] discrimination affects more than 370 million indigenous people around the world with disproportionate rates of extreme poverty”, CAF declares its solidarity and support with the indigenous people’s communities, and strongly condemns the continuous marginalization, prejudice, discrimination and violations of their rights.

CONTACT:

Ali Mallah
CAF Vice President – Ontario
Email: alimallah@hotmail.com
Tel: 416-392-2741

Canada: Repatriation of Khadr demanded

Reuel S. Amdur
The Arab American News.com 

Lieut.-CommanderWilliam Kuebler, Omar Khadr’s American military lawyer, expressed
concern at the convention of the Canadian Bar Association about Canada’s failure to call
for his return from Guantanamo. His presentation took such hold of the convention that
the Association short-circuited its usual procedures and sent a letter on Sunday, August
12, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging him to demand Khadr’s return to Canada.

In a press release issued on August 9, 22 Muslim and Arab organizations also urged
Prime Minister Harper to demand the return of Omar Khadr to Canada from
Guantanamo. Among the organizations are the Canadian Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian Islamic Congress, and the Canadian Arab
Federation. Others, including a number of past and present members of Parliament and
Amnesty International, have previously called for his return.

Omar Khadr, a member of a Canadian family closely connected to al-Qaeda, was
captured in Afghanistan during a battle. The house in which he was staying was blown
up by American forces, and when the ruins were being invaded by Americans he
retaliated, apparently killing an American medic. He was also wounded at the time.
Five years later, he continues to be held at Guantanamo. The demand for his release
comes at a time when Britain has requested the return of five men who were non-citizen
residents of that country when taken into custody. France, Germany, Britain, and
Australia have all had citizens repatriated from Guantanamo.

Question has been raised about the state of Khadr’s physical and mental health, and his
health records have not been made available by the U.S. government, either to his
Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney or to the Canadian government.

CAF commends the Canadian Bar Association’s position on Khadr’s case

The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) supports the position taken by the Canadian Bar Association in urging the Prime Minister to bringing Omar Khadr back home to Canada.

Khadr was imprisoned when he was 15 years old- a juvenile case that should have been handled accordingly. Now in his 20, Khadr’s health is in bad condition, and the U.S. military continues to deny an impartial / independent physician to assess his condition. Khadr also remains to be the only western citizen detained in Guantanamo. All other citizens were released by the help of their countries.

It is time for our Prime Minister to stop accepting U.S. reassurances of a due process at Guantanamo, which Khadr’s own military lawyer describes as “a modern-day Devil’s Island”, and bring Khadr back to Canada, where he will face due process under Canadian law.

CAF is urging the Prime Minister to act quickly in this matter, particularly considering the possibility of Khadr facing a military trial next month under a tribunal considered illegal in any other western courts of law.

CONTACT:

Khaled Mouammar
National President
Email: benwalid@rogers.com
Tel: 416-879-6766

Iacobucci inquiry faces challenge – Three men imprisoned in Middle East question secretive process of probe

By Campbell Clark

OTTAWA — The three men who were imprisoned in the Middle East in circumstances
similar to Maher Arar say they cannot get assurances that key witnesses such as former
RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli will be questioned at an inquiry into their
treatment.

Lawyers for the three, who say they were tortured, have gone to the Federal Court of
Canada seeking an order to open up the secretive process set by retired Supreme Court
judge Frank Iacobucci. They say they are concerned that the inquiry will not be credible.
Although Mr. Justice Dennis O’Connor’s inquiry into Mr. Arar’s case found last year that
Canadian officials fed misleading information to the United States that probably led to his
deportation and torture in Syria, it had no mandate to investigate the three other cases.
Mr. Iacobucci was appointed in December to conduct an “internal” inquiry into the
actions of Canadian officials in the cases of Muayyed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki and
Ahmad Abou El Maati – a probe that is proceeding almost entirely behind closed doors.
Questions have lingered over whether Canadian officials provided information to officials
in Syria and received information obtained from their interrogations there.

Yesterday, censored portions of Mr. O’Connor’s report, released under a Federal Court
order, showed that the RCMP applied for search warrants in 2002 using information that
the Syrians obtained by interrogating Mr. El Maati, who was being detained there.
But his lawyers have been unable to obtain assurances that the RCMP officer who
applied for the warrants, Sergeant RandyWalsh, will be questioned by the Iacobucci
inquiry.

“If Justice Iacobucci wasn’t aware of this issue before, then there’s problems going on
with the Iacobucci inquiry,” said Barbara Jackman, a lawyer for Mr. El Maati.

In the first phase of the inquiry, commission lawyers are interviewing officials and others
in private, and Mr. Iacobucci may adopt their findings as his own.

Commission counsel John Laskin said in a recent interview that he cannot say whether
Mr. Zaccardelli will be questioned.

“That hasn’t been finally determined yet, but a number of the others on their proposed
list, we are indeed interviewing,” Mr. Laskin told The Globe and Mail. “I’m not going to
say that we’re necessarily going to interview everybody they say we should interview,
because at the end of the day, it’s our judgment.”

In correspondence filed with the Federal Court, Jasminka Kalajdzic, a lawyer for Mr.
Almalki, asked why lists of interviewees did not include Mr. Zaccardelli, MP Dan
McTeague, who was parliamentary secretary for consular cases when Paul Martin was
prime minister, and RCMP counterterrorism officers Sgt.Walsh and Michel Cabana.
The commission’s lawyers wrote back to say the lists were not necessarily complete,
and that Mr. Cabana would be interviewed – but made no mention of the others.
Mr. Zaccardelli resigned his post as RCMP commissioner in December under fire for
conflicting testimony about the force’s actions in Mr. Arar’s case.

“It’s the chain-of-command issues. Zaccardelli was the head of the RCMP. If he wasn’t
aware of what was going on, why wasn’t he? And if he was aware, what did he do about
it?” said Ms. Jackman, who represents both Mr. Nureddin and Mr. El Maati.
“We don’t even know who all the people are that they’re interviewing.We know some of
them. And in terms of whether or not they’re getting at all the issues, it’s blind faith.”
Ms. Jackman said they are concerned that the government imposed a restrictive
mandate on the inquiry because it fears the three cases would demonstrate a pattern of
Canadian complicity in having third countries that use torture interrogate suspects to
advance investigations.

“I have no confidence, to be honest with you. Because I don’t know what’s going on,” Mr.
Nureddin, 40, a geologist who was imprisoned in Syria for a month in 2003, said in a
recent interview.

Mr. Laskin noted that the government called for a private inquiry when it set the terms of
reference, and selected sections can be held in public only when Mr. Iacobucci deems it
essential.

Mr. Iacobucci issued rules of procedure for the inquiry in a May 31 decision, indicating
that in general, lawyers for the three men would not be present at interviews and
hearings. Instead, they can suggest “questions and lines of inquiry” to the commission
counsel, he ruled.

That ruling is now being challenged by the three men and several groups, including the
Canadian Arab Federation and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which argue Mr.
Iacobucci was too restrictive in interpreting his mandate and is not making the inquiry
public enough to instill confidence.

Press Conference on the Assault and Abuse against Marginalized, Racialized Groups

On July 5, 2007, the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) together with representatives from Canadian Islamic Congress, South Asian Legal Clinic, the Muslim Unity Group, and a coalition of racialized groups will be holding a Press Conference. The conference will call upon the provincial government to set up a public inquiry that would look into sexual and other forms of abuse against marginalized and racialized groups within schools in order to provide a safer learning and studying environment.

When: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Where: Queen’s ParkMedia Studio (Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park)

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Mohamed Boudjenane, CAF Executive Director at:
Office: 416-493-8635 x 23
Cell: 416-889-6764
Email: ed@caf.ca