THURSDAY AND FRIDAY: Saturate the Senate with Secret Trials Speaking Requests
Be one of 500 organizations, individuals, unions and faith-groups across Canada requesting an appearance before the Senate committee scheduled to discuss new secret trials legislation
WHO: You, an organization or an individual, concerned that there is new “security certificate” legislation that will continue the scheme of secret hearings, two-tier justice, indefinite detention without charge, draconian house arrest, and deportation to torture.
WHAT: Write a letter and email it or fax it as soon as possible to the Clerk of the Committee, requesting to appear and stating why you want to speak to the Senate about the security certificate process. (details below)
WHEN: Right now! Time is short! Apparently Senate plans to hold second reading vote tomorrow (Thursday), and, if it passes, refer it to the committee for hearings on Monday afternoon! So to be heard, you would have to apply immediately. Given the rather tight time-frame, hasty applications should be understood!
WHERE: Hearings take place in Ottawa, but if your application is accepted, the government will cover your travel and accommodation costs. (The hearings are public, so if you are in the Ottawa area, attending them would be another way of showing public interest, even if your application isn’t accepted.)
WHY: A major role of the Senate (on paper, anyway) is to provide “sober, second thought” on the work done by the House of Commons. It was a full eight months after the Supreme Court ruled security certificates unconstitutional that the Harper minority government introduced a new bill that, save for some fancy-sounding window dressing, is the same as the old one. The House committee “examining” the new legislation, called C-3, sent it back to the House of Commons with less than three weeks of study, and almost no understanding of the dire human rights implications of passing this bill. The House of Commons obligingly passed the bill with hardly a debate on February 6.
Now the Senate is being pressured to pass the bill before February 23, when the old law will expire: one week to not only have first, second, and third readings of the bill, but to also hold public hearings on it. Hardly an opportunity for sober second thoughts! There is in fact no legal obligation for a new law to be in place by February 23, and having the law expire would be a good thing. It could actually help to call the government’s bluff: if they really have a case, why don’t they do what the detainees have always
requested, which is charge them and provide them a fair, open, public trial? If the government, with all of its resources and “intelligence” cannot even mount a case under criminal law, as they would have to for everyone else in the country, then it is clear that these men and their families should be allowed the freedom that was taken from them so many years ago.
Although it is very unlikely that everyone who applies will be asked to speak, all letters received by the Clerk are translated and given to all Committee members, so it will be an important opportunity for them to see the breadth of popular concern. In addition, if this final push can delay the bill, the old law will run out, hopefully forcing the government to charge the detainees or free them. And if the applications are not accepted, this will only serve to publicly expose the manner in which democratic debate and true discussion about serious issues is undermined by so-called
“national security” paranoia, fear-mongering and racist attitudes.
–This public service announcement comes to you courtesy of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, Justice for Adil, and the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee.
DETAILS FOR APPLYING
–> Your letter of application can include:
* the reasons that you should be heard (what “stakes” you have in the issue, as a member of Canadian society, as a member of a community that is racialized and targetted, or other);
* your thoughts on why this process is against principles of justice, is dangerous, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, etc;
* your personal experience of the detainees and their families;
* concern over some of the xenophobic and racist statements that were made by MPs during the debates in Parliament and in the committee hearings;
* your understanding that the Supreme Court upheld the right of everyone in Canada to a fair trial, your thoughts about why the security certificate process is unnecessary, questions about why two-tier justice is being continued and about why the government is passing a law that all legal experts are saying is unconstitutional.
Please be polite in your tone (letters comparing Harper to Hitler are not terribly helpful), and factually accurate (feel free to run your drafts by us first). Resources on C-3, including backgrounders, testimony by the law societies and briefs from NGOs, can be found at www.adilinfo.org.
If you are having trouble starting a letter, just think about what you as someone who lives here feels about the fact that the government, through C-3, is saying it is okay to detain some groups of people in Canada indefinitely without charge on secret suspicions, provide them the lowest standards of justice available, and then deport them to torture.
–> Your letters should be sent to:
Adam Thompson, Committee Clerk
Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario Canada, K1A 0A4
Please cc your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui
tel. 514 859 9023
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