Federal appeals court dismisses Arar rendition lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] Tuesday dismissed [decision, PDF] a lawsuit brought by Canadian citizen Maher Arar [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], who sought a declaratory judgment against US government officials for deporting him to Syria. The court ruled that Arar had failed to state a claim for which it had jurisdiction to grant relief:

We do not doubt that if Congress were so inclined, it could exercise its powers under the Constitution to authorize a cause of action for money damages to redress the type of claims asserted by Arar in this action. The fact remains, however, that Congress has not done so. Instead, it has chosen to establish a remedial process that does not include a cause of action for damages against US officials for injuries arising from the exercise of their discretionary authority to remove inadmissible aliens. We are not free to be indifferent to the determinations of Congress, or to ignore the Supreme Court's instructions to exercise great caution when considering whether to devise new and heretofore unknown, causes of action.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represented Arar, expressed disappointment [press release] at the ruling, pointing to the court's dissenting opinion that the ruling would allow the government to "violate constitutional rights with virtual impunity." Reuters has more. Canadian Press has additional coverage.

Arar was detained by the US in 2002 after flying to New York from Tunisia on his way home to Canada. He was later tansferred to Syria, where he alleges he was tortured. Arar had argued [CCR press release] that he should be able to challenge the US government's policy of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] under the Torture Victim Protection Act [text] and the Fifth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution. In October 2007, US lawmakers apologized [JURIST report] to Arar during a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee [official website]. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified [recorded video] in front of the same committee that Arar's rendition was not "handled as it should have been," but stopped short of apologizing. Rice added that the US government has told the Canadian government that it will "try to do better in the future." In January 2007, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Arar [JURIST report] on behalf of the Canadian government and announced a settlement of $10.5 million (CAD) compensation for pain and suffering.


 

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