Canada high court rules indefinite terror detentions unconstitutional

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled [text] Friday that the government's use of security certificates [CBSA backgrounder; CBC backgrounder] to indefinitely detain and deport foreigners with suspected ties to terrorism violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text; CDCH materials]. Three Arab Muslim men - Adil Charkaoui, Hassan Almrei and Mohamed Harkat [case summaries] - argued [JURIST report] before the high court last year that their indefinite detentions were unconstitutional. Suspected of membership in al Qaeda, the men were arrested on special security certificates authorized by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [text]. Suspects can spend years fighting deportation while courts hear sensitive intelligence evidence against them, often in closed session without defense attorneys present.

Although the court determined that the security certificates are unconstitutional and without effect, the judgment will not take effect for one year in order to allow Parliament time to comply with the Court's ruling. The security certificates have existed since 1978 and have been used six times since 2001 [Globe and Mail backgrounder]. Sacha Trudeau, the younger son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was the architect of the 1982 Charter, denounced the certificates [JURIST report] during a court hearing in 2005 for a Syrian held in solitary confinement for four years. CBC News has more. The Globe and Mail has additional coverage.

 

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