Vancouver, B.C. – The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is pleased to announce that Paul Champ, legal counsel for the BCCLA and Amnesty International on the Afghan detainee litigation, is this year‟s winner of the BCCLA‟s Reg Robson award for civil liberties and human rights.
Issues concerning Canadian soldiers turning Afghan detainees in Afghanistan over to Afghan authorities and then being subjected to torture and mistreatment has become a matter of national concern. The BCCLA credits the years of work by Paul Champ for helping advance the public‟s awareness and discussion of these issues.
“Paul Champ has spent more than 2,000 hours on this file. From cases before the Federal Court‟s Trial Division and Court of Appeal through to proceedings before the Military Police Complaints Commission, Paul Champ has demonstrated the finest attributes of a citizen and
advocate,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA. “His professionalism and commitment have been exemplary throughout. We have found his advice and service invaluable. He has articulated ably the fundamental Canadian values at stake and the importance of respect for the rule of law by Canadian officials wherever they may be.”
Paul Champ‟s efforts on behalf of the BCCLA led to a halt in the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan authorities in 2007 and a new transfer agreement being negotiated by Canada that included protections for detainees. The documents that Paul Champ uncovered paved the way for improved monitoring of the condition of Afghan detainees post-transfer. His investigative work underscores the importance of accountability by government officials to the public.
“I was interested in working on this issue because the weight of the evidence just made it so obvious to me that what Canada was doing was wrong, and the novelty of the legal issues were compelling,” said Champ of his involvement in the file. “I thought, „Here is an opportunity that I have to use the law to really make a difference on a very important issue.‟”
The BCCLA congratulates Paul Champ on his award and thanks him for his tireless efforts on this critically important issue. The Reg Robson award is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated a substantial and long-lasting contribution to civil liberties in BC and Canada.
The award is named after long-time BCCLA president Reg Robson, whose service and commitment to civil liberties remains an example well worth remembrance and emulation.
Robert Holmes, BCCLA President, (604) 681-1310
David Eby, BCCLA Executive Director, (778) 865-7997