Canada Supreme Court upholds anti-terror law

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] Friday that the country's controversial Anti-Terrorism Act [text; CBC backgrounder] is constitutional, issuing a series of unanimous rulings that establish a definition of terrorism in the country's Criminal Code. In a 7-0 ruling, the court dismissed the appeal brought by Mohammed Momin Khawaja [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], the first person ever to be charged under the Anti-Terrorism law. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin [official profile] affirmed that the life sentence handed down by the Ontario Court of Appeals [official website] sent a "clear and unmistakable message that terrorism is reprehensible and those who choose to engage in it [in Canada] will pay a very heavy price." She also suggested that "denunciation and deterrence, both specific and general, are important principles in the sentencing of terrorism offences, given their seriousness." The court also unanimously upheld [judgment, PDF] the extradition orders for two other men, Suresh Sriskandarajah and Piratheepan Nadarajah [CBC backgrounder], who will be sent to the US for trial on charges of supporting the Tamil Tigers [TIME backgrounder], a banned terrorist group. The rulings essentially confirm that the Anti-Terrorism law, passed in December 2001 in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks, contains no rights violations and does not need to be revised.

The Supreme Court of Canada began reviewing [JURIST report] Khawaja's case in June. The review came after the court announced that it had granted an application for leave to appeal [JURIST report] filed by Khawaja in June 2011. He was found guilty of participating in a terrorist group, instructing a person to finance terrorism, making property available to terrorists, contributing to a terrorist group and facilitating terrorism. In 2008 Khawaja pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. In 2007 Canadian Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley [official profile] refused to require the release of confidential evidence [JURIST report] against Khawaja, explaining that "disclosure of most of the information would be injurious to national security or to international relations." Khawaja was arrested in 2004.

 

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