Gitmo North: UNACCEPTABLE!

This is not the US.

This is Canada.

So why is THIS happening–here?


Canada is reviewing laws allowing detention without charge, as lawyers for 17 terror suspects arrested this month say that their Muslim clients have no chance of a fair trial.

The supreme court is to hear arguments this week on whether security certificates that allow secret court hearings, undisclosed evidence and open-ended detention are constitutional.

The certificates were introduced under the immigration act in 1976, but since September 2001 they have been used to jail five Muslims – Adil Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat, Hasan Almrei, Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammed Mahjoub – suspected of links to terrorists abroad or membership of a terrorist group.

Canadian MPs say the measures are needed to thwart terrorist attacks, but lawyers for three of the detainees say they breach civil liberties.

Federal lawyers argue that secrecy prevents disclosure of intelligence and surveillance techniques to terrorists abroad.

They said in a court brief: “The greater the number of individuals with access to this information, the greater the risk of advertent and inadvertent disclosure. What is fair depends entirely on the context.”

Uh, that’s MORAL RELATIVISM. And that is un-Canadian.

It is un-Canadian for the simple reason that it divides detainees into those entitled to a fair and open trial…and those not so entitled. That’s a huge black eye for a country where egalitarianism is a long-honored way of life!

Fortunately, the Supreme Court is currently hearing the case against this two-tier justice system that the “security certificates” represent. And a former Iraq hostage of rather high profile is helping in the quest for equal justice:

James Loney said he felt compelled to get involved in the campaign to free the detainees because they publicly supported him during the four months that he was being held by militants in Iraq.

“I never really knew what freedom was until it was taken away from me,” said Loney, a longtime peace activist.

“Even the simple things like not even being able to touch and hold the people you love. And this is being denied to these men indefinitely.”

In a case that made international headlines, Loney and three colleagues were working for the humanitarian organization Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad when they were abducted by militants on Nov. 26, 2005.

The militants, who called themselves the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, executed one of the hostages before Loney and two others were rescued on March 23.

Ottawa is currently holding four men under the security certificates, which were created in response to al-Qaeda’s attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Remember, Jim Loney was one of four indefinitely detained men, too. He too was not charged with any crime during his captivity. What difference is there between the lawless men who imprisoned him, and those insisting that these four under “security certificates” must remain indefinitely imprisoned, without charges, now? Does officialdom sanction what would otherwise be known, quite rightly, as terrorism?

And here’s a larger question: Should Canada be dragged down the same freedom-denying path the US is following? Does it seriously do anything to combat terrorism? And what evidence is there that the normal criminal trial process was ever inadequate for dealing with terrorism in the first place?

The Supreme Court may have to decide for itself what the answers to these questions may be, but I already know where I stand. Canada must NOT become Gitmo North, even in the name of fighting terrorism–EVER. Equal justice for all means a free, fair and OPEN trial for all. No matter the charges. Justice must not only be done, it must be SEEN to be done.

Anything else is un-Canadian!

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