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CSIS needs ‘warning system’ on risk of torture, lawyer says

Restoring the inspector-general’s position at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service could help monitor instances when the agency relies on assurances from foreign governments that a person of interest to Canada won’t be tortured, according to Ottawa human rights lawyer Paul Champ.

He made the comments following revelations that Canada’s spy agency was given the green light to send information to an allied foreign agency about a terrorist target of mutual interest and interview a Canadian detained abroad, provided assurances were obtained that both individuals would face “no substantial risk of mistreatment” abroad.


Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Leo Russomanno, co-counsel for Algerian-born Mohamed Harkat, who last year lost his Supreme Court of Canada challenge to have the security certificate used to detain him for nearly four years declared unconstitutional, said the federal government relied on assurances from its Algerian counterpart that Harkat wouldn’t be mistreated despite reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that the risk of that happening were high.

“Torture isn’t just occurring in the far corners of the globe — it’s happened with the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, at CIA black sites in Europe and when Canadian soldiers transferred prisoners to Afghan authorities, who then tortured them,” said Russomanno, whose practice at Abergel Goldstein & Partners is focused in part on national security law.

“At what point do we start acting like adults, and follow our Constitution and international human rights obligations and stop getting carried away in this cycle of fear over this existential threat of terrorism?”

Read Christopher Guly’s full article: The Lawyers’ Daily

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