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Canada government introduces new security certificates bill after high court debacle

[JURIST] The Canadian government Monday introduced a new security certificates bill [press release] in the House of Commons [official website] in response to a February Supreme Court decision [text] that gave it one year to re-write existing law or have that voided as unconstitutional. Security certificates [PSC backgrounder] allow the Canadian government to order the detention and deportation of foreign terrorist suspects in private hearings without the presence of suspects or their lawyers. The new bill would give detainees access to a UK-style special advocate [JURIST report] at private hearings empowered to review and challenge materials that detainees themselves could not see. Currently, five men are subject to security certificates and Hassan Almrei [Amnesty International profile], of Syria, alleged to be part of a "forgery ring" linked to al-Qaeda, is the only person held in formal custody; the others have been released under strict bail terms.

The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled [text] in February that the government's use of security certificates to indefinitely detain and deport foreigners with suspected ties to terrorism violated 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 in June 2006 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]. The Court said in its ruling that indefinite detentions under security certificates were permissible as long as evidence that detainees themselves could not see could be challenged; it said it would delay application of its judgment for one year in order to allow Parliament time to comply with its ruling. CBC News has more.

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