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BCCLA urges release of security certificate prisoners

Murray Mollard, Executive Director, of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)  will testify before the Senate Special Committee on the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA)  regarding security certificates and reform of the ATA on Monday, October 17, 2005  from 1:30-3:30 pm in Room 160-S in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings.  BCCLA President Jason Gratl will join Mr. Mollard in testifying before the House  Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security on Wed. October 19 at 3:30  pm in Room 371 of the West Block.

The BCCLA is urging the committees to advocate for the immediate release of all  security certificate detainees who have been imprisoned in Canada under inhumane  conditions and subject to secret hearings while they await possible deportation orders to countries known to practice torture.

In addition, they will urge the committees to recommend the repeal of the ATA as a hasty and unnecessary response to the perceived threat of terrorism after  September 11, 2001. Short of repeal, the Association is calling for significant  amendment of the ATA including narrowing the definition of “terrorist activity”  and restricting the power of government to impose secrecy on any matter it deems national security. The Association concludes that there needs to be
significantly more robust mechanisms for the accountability of national security agencies.

BCCLA President Jason Gratl: “Even a stone should cry to see the treatment accorded security certificate prisoners – sentenced to years in solitary confinement by way of a Ministerial order. The security certificate process treats liberty and fundamental justice with callous disregard.”

Mr. Mollard adds: “The ATA was passed in record time to respond to a perceived security crisis and its shows the flaws of ill-conceived drafting. We will urge the Senate and House committees to recommend major reforms to this law.”Jason Gratl is a criminal lawyer practicing in Vancouver and co-author of “National Security, State Secrecy and Public Accountability”, forthcoming in the University of New Brunswick Law Journal. Murray Mollard, a lawyer with the Association since 1994, has extensive experience on matters relating to national security, police accountability and privacy.Copies of the BCCLA’s brief will be available at the Senate hearings and via its website at www.bccla.org.