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BCCLA to speak out against security certificates

Representatives of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association will speak at a rally tomorrow against “security certificates”. The rally has been organized by several groups including Amnesty International and No One is Illegal. The rally will take place at 300 W. Georgia St, Vancouver at 4 pm.

The BCCLA condemns the use of Security Certificates under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to deport non-Citizens from this country without adequate due process protections. At the stroke of a pen, non-citizens can be whisked away without ever seeing the evidence against them and without a real opportunity to argue for their right to remain. Hearings are conducted in secret by government lawyers and specially-designated Federal Court judges. Deportees and their legal counsel are barred from entering the courtroom. Deportees may be incarcerated in solitary confinement for years without adequate hearings and may ultimately be ordered deported to face torture or execution in a foreign country known for human rights abuses. Individuals who’s deportation order has been confirmed by the Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division have no right of appeal from their first hearing.

Jason Gratl, BCCLA Secretary and Board member explains: “The absence of even the most minimal of procedural safeguards leaves us with two concerns. First, it is very difficult to assure that justice will be done given that there is no way to begin to challenge the government’s case. Second, there are inadequate safeguards to ensure against abuse. Excluding any public scrutiny over the judicial process, and deferring almost completely to the Executive branch of government is positively medieval. Secret trials and secret evidence have no place in a democratic country.”

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is creating a special committee to study how substantial threats to national security can be addressed while protecting due process, individual rights, and public accountability of executive and judicial authority. This BCCLA committee will also be responsible for reviewing anti-terrorism legislation with the federal government undertaking a mandatory review of the law in 2005.