The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) [official website] is authorized to use and pass on information obtained through torture when Canadian lives are at stake, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews [official website] said Tuesday. The statements come in response to a controversial 2010 directive authorizing the use of such information that was obtained earlier this week [Reuters report] by a Canadian news agency through freedom of information laws. The directive allows the CSIS to use information which may have been obtained through torture under extreme circumstances. This order is an expansion of a 2009 ministerial order, which expressly forbids the use of information obtained through torture. The latest directive carves out a narrow exception to the 2009 order, which Toews argued was necessary to protect the lives of Canadian citizens. The directive was criticized [BBC report] by representatives from the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party [official websites], who argued it may not be legal.
Torture has been at the center of controversy in Canada recently. In January, the Canadian government deported Rwandan war crimes suspect Leon Mugesera [JURIST report], despite claims that he would face torture and possible death [Globe and Mail report] if removed to Rwanda. The Quebec Superior Court [official website] determined that they did not have jurisdiction to rule on immigration cases. In November 2009, a former senior Canadian diplomat, during testimony before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan [official website], alleged that the Canadian military was complicit in the torture of Afghans [JURIST report] by their own government. Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association [advocacy websites] filed complaints [JURIST report] in 2007 against the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal [official website], alleging complicity in torture by Canadian personnel serving in Afghanistan. Amnesty accused Canada of violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text] by turning Afghan detainees over to Afghan authorities without any protection against later cruel and unusual punishment.