Canada court rules on preservation of evidence in terror investigation

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled [judgment] Thursday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) [official website] improperly destroyed recordings of agent interviews with terror suspect Adil Charkaoui [case summary], but the justices refused to stop Charkaoui's extradition to Morocco. The Court found that the loss of evidence hampered judicial review:

As things stand, the destruction by CSIS officers of their operational notes compromises the very function of judicial review. To uphold the right to procedural fairness of people in Mr. Charkaoui’s position, CSIS should be required to retain all the information in its possession and to disclose it to the ministers and the designated judge. The ministers and the designated judge will in turn be responsible for verifying the information they are given. If, as we suggest, the ministers have access to all the undestroyed "original" evidence, they will be better positioned to make appropriate decisions on issuing a certificate. The designated judge, who will have access to all the evidence, will then exclude any evidence that might pose a threat to national security and summarize the remaining evidence — which he or she will have been able to check for accuracy and reliability — for the named person.
The Court found that the destruction of the recordings violated CSIS's duty to preserve all intelligence notes as stated in Section 12 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act [text]. CBC News has more.

Charkaoui was arrested in 2003 and detained until 2005 under a security certificate [CBSA backgrounder; CBC backgrounder] that allowed the government to indefinitely detain and deport foreigners with suspected ties to terrorism. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled [text; JURIST report] that the government's use of security certificates violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text; CDCH materials]. Last October, the Canadian government introduced [JURIST report] a new security certificates bill [press release] in the House of Commons [official website].

 

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