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Canada PM announces settlement with Arar, apologizes for role in US deportation

[JURIST] Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] formally apologized [official press release and text of letter] to Maher Arar [JURIST news archive; recorded video] on behalf of the Canadian government Friday for its role in the US deportation of Arar to Syria in 2002 and announced a settlement with Arar of $10.5 million (CAD) compensation for pain and suffering, as well as up to $2 million (CAD) for legal fees. Arar, a Canadian citizen, was detained by US authorities on a stopover at JFK airport in New York and transferred to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured. The Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion of apology [CP report] in September, but that was not an official government action.

Last year the final report [text, PDF] of the Arar Commission [official website], the Canadian judicial inquiry initiated by the former Liberal government, found that the US decision to deport Arar was "very likely" based on inaccurate, unfair and overstated information [JURIST report] about him passed on by the RCMP [official website], Canada's federal police force. The report additionally found that US officials treated Arar poorly and were not candid with the RCMP or with Canadian consular staff who were trying to get information about his situation. The then-Commissioner of the RCMP, Giuliano Zaccardelli, formally apologized [JURIST report] to Arar in September before resigning over the incident. Harper’s Conservative government, which came to power after the events took place, plans to implement all 23 of the report recommendations. CBC News has more.

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