OTTAWA – Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) have written to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to express their disappointment with her decision to create an “independent external review” into the extradition case of Dr. Hassan Diab, instead of the public inquiry that was sought by Dr. Diab and numerous human rights organizations. In their letter, they stated that the external review is too narrow, and risks leaving out a number of important issues that must be investigated in order to ensure that Dr. Diab’s ordeal is not repeated.
Amnesty International and BCCLA criticized the failure of the external review explicitly to include an examination of possible reforms to the Extradition Act, which they pointed out has serious weaknesses in terms of due process that even the judge in Dr. Diab’s case recognized. The organizations noted that the judge considered the evidence provided by France to be “suspect” but that the Extradition Act left the court no choice but to consider France’s evidence as reliable. The letter to the Justice Minister also took issue with the decision to leave France’s actions largely outside of the review and to give France the ability to shield certain documents from production to the review. In addition, the organizations highlight that the Justice Minister has not given the review the tools to uncover the full truth of what happened in the case, because there is no opportunity to cross-examine witnesses in order to test the claims that they make.
Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, stated: “Hassan Diab’s life was torn apart in a cruel and unjust way because of significant problems at the heart of Canada’s extradition law. We are deeply disappointed that this review seems to have been set up in a manner that sidesteps key issues, such as the Extradition Act itself, and limits the powers needed to get at the truth. The only way to prevent the grave human rights violations that happened to Dr. Diab from happening again is for the government, Parliament and the public to have a full understanding of what happened, and what needs to be fixed to prevent it in the future. The way this review has been structured seriously constrains the ability to get to those answers. We have asked the Minister to set out how these shortcomings in the review will be addressed.”
The organizations added that while they and others had asked for a public inquiry, the Justice Minister’s terms of reference for the external review do not guarantee that the reviewer’s report will be made public.
Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA, stated: “The public, and Parliament, are owed answers as to how this miscarriage of justice took place. We have heard in media reports that Justice Department officials may have collaborated actively with France to generate new evidence against Dr. Diab, that they may have allowed Canadian courts to be misled, and that they withheld evidence from the Court and Dr. Diab. These are very serious allegations and they must have a public airing in order to ensure that justice is done – and seen to be done – in this case.”