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Canada dismisses UN torture criticism

The Canadian Department of Justice [official website] on Thursday refused to acknowledge last week's criticism from the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) [official website] that Canada has been complicit in torture. During a court hearing in Ottawa for Abdullah Almalki, the federal lawyers asked the Justice Charles Hackland of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice [official website] why the court hears the case if the UN has the last word anyway. Almalki's lawyers argued that the government should either release documents related to Almalki by September or face stricter sanctions. With this argument, the lawyers presented a copy of the UN decision for support which the government opposed claiming that the document is irrelevant in this case. The UNCAT released [JURIST report] a report [text, PDF] last week finding that Canada was complicit in rights violations against three Canadians, Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, who were held prisoner in Syria and against Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], who is currently detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. The UNCAT demanded Canada apologize and provide compensation.

The committee also urged the country to grant Khadr's request for a transfer from Guantanamo to Canada for the remainder of his sentence to avoid any future mistreatment. The Canadian Supreme Court [official website] had ruled in 2010 that treatment of Khadr violated his rights. Khadr had applied [JURIST report] for a transfer in April but the Canadian government has not yet responded to his request. The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon [official profile] announced [JURIST report] in 2010 that it would not seek repatriation of Khadr.

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