Saturday, October 4, 2008

Localized Human Rights

What’s this new fad in national security? What’s that recent hype about detaining people without providing a reason? Have you heard about this up and coming hot topic about security certificates?

Well here’s the thing. It’s nothing new! Security Certificates have been part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act since the late 70’s. What’s it all about? Security Certificates are a sheet of paper the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) obtains to detain non-Canadian citizens as long as they want or deport them based on information that they need not release to anyone. (my co-bloggers will give you some more info about the history)

Okay, so they’re non-Canadian citizens…no biggie, they’re not official Canadian’s anyways. So what if they hold ‘em between four empty walls for weeks and months on end and then send ‘em packing without explanation? Well it doesn’t stop there. In 2002 these Security Certificates have been extended to include permanent residents in Canada. (Forget what you learned in Grade 2 though. The term ‘permanent’ is flexible in this case)

So basically, if the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) feels that you have been, are, or will be a threat to National Security, then, my friend…you are going back to wherever it is you came from. It really doesn’t matter to us what happens to you after; doesn’t matter if you’re going to be tortured and killed ‘back home’….as long as you’re out of our hair.

You’re thinking, maybe they did something wrong. Maybe they have evidence against these people. My response is, ‘who knows!’. Really. I want to know. Who knows? Because I don’t know. You don’t know. The accused doesn’t know. Their family doesn’t know. The public doesn’t know. Frankly, we may never know!

For example, you have Adil Charkaoui, one of the accused… He claims that while he was detained, he was presented with a 400 page report. 14 of those pages included direct information about him including that 1. He was Muslim, 2. He was Arab, 3. He studied martial arts, 4. He is married, 5. He has children, 6. He has certain academic degrees and 7. He went to Pakistan. Nothing in their information against him cited him in relation to terrorist acts.

Now before rambling on, we must remember that the major issue is basic human rights: The right to not be thrown between four walls without awareness of the justification. The right to not be stolen from your family, your friends, your job and the comforts you worked towards. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to due process? Whatever happened to the same human rights as even ‘proven rapists’. They get visits. These accused fellows didn’t even have permission to see their family.

This is an issue that affects every one of us. First non-citizens, then permanent residents….next… YOU! Can you imagine sitting at work and all of a sudden you get rushed by CSIS and thrown in a jail with murderers, felons, racists, gangsters and rapists?
This issue is presented to us as: ‘human rights’ only applies to us born on this piece of land. Is this justice? Is this the freedom Canada brags about? Are human rights localized, or universal?
But shhhhhh don’t say anything that might sound the least bit critical of your government, you never know what they’ll hold against you. Really….you’ll never know.


Margo F. said...

I wasn't aware of the manipulative nature of the CSIS. I'm frankly stunned because as refugees, my family and I came to Canada with the belief that we would be free. I shiver at the thought of being sent back to my "homeland" where violence and hate crimes ensue...The injustice faced by the accused, many of whom could very well be innocent, sheds light to the fact that we are not a multicultural nation in the true sense of the word. The national security system carries prejudice in its bones.

A Cry for Justice said...

I believe that such security measures were taken solely on political basis, to show who is the strongest political party around, and who can make the stronger stand when it comes to the nation's security. It's all just a part of one big game that the government is trying to play to prove itself. Which, in my opinion, is just animal-like and primitive in its own sense. It's sad.. Really sad..

Anonymous said...

This is truly a disappointment to us as Canadians that this is going on in a country like Canada where we have always been welcoming to refugees and foreigners alike.
It just shows how we are so influenced by what our neighbors south of the border are going through.

Anonymous said...

This is no shock to me. I've had frends in the past who have been stripped search almost buck naked at Pearson airport because of "questionable" connections/relations they've had, all because of a simple email that may have been read or person they may have known, or who knows, maybe just because of their Muslim name...the "powers that be" knew everythng about them, their family and their daily activities because the person looked "suspicious"...i guess ppl fear what they don't understand/aren't use to

Anonymous said...

yeah, i honestly did not know that the CSIS was that harsh and direct. you honestly can never feel safe anywhere, regardless of where you live...some people hold back their thoughts and feelings because they never know what may be over-heard or what not...all i have to say're free to think and you have that freedom of speech --> so take advantage if you feel you're being taken advantage of :)

Mujju said...

its so hard to fathom how people have such a hard time recognizing, what I feel, are blatant 'wrongs'. Seriously, why aren't there red flags and sirens blaring 'stop-the-madness'?
We can all clearly see that detaining individuals indefinitely without convicting them, without providing any proofs, scrapping their rights, etc are all acts of supreme injustice.

we cannot justify destroying peoples lives on our insecurities/prejudices/fear.

We can do better... we have to do better. Stand up Canada.

Kay Thoms said...

Canada has a long history of only being welcoming to certain refugees and immigrants, while being really horrible to others. During WWII, Jewish refugees were refused entry to Canada and sent back to Germany. That's just one example but the shocking thing is that I only found that out in the last 5 years. It never came up during history class when I was a kid here.

And a more recent story - a female refugee whose testimony resulted in the conviction of the man who raped her, was subsequently deported because the rapist infected her with HIV and so she was no longer eligible to stay in Canada. Her medical bills would've been too high. How disgusting is that?

Reezo said...

Yeah, Canadian history paints a rosy pictures of a pack of oppression and lies.
They still paint a rosy picture of Canada through the media.

faa-T said...

The title is intriguing - "Localized Human Rights". What did you mean by that?

On a more comparative note, I'd really really like to find out how many other countries have such double standards of legal justice and access: i.e. how many of them use non-citizenship as an excuse to further exploit already vulnerable populations. I mean we know that the US does it, but what about other "developed" nations do this? And why has there not been much discussion about such treatment at international levels? I know there's been conventions and treaties around migrant workers rights, but I feel that this situation (of non-citizen residents being legally prosecuted) has very different needs and concerns that require addressing.

Also, a very interesting theory I read at point: (and I'm sorry but I don't remember where I read this, so can't quote a source) but certain governments, especially those developed states that depend heavily on migrant workers (Canada / US) structurally *WANT* illegal workers or illegal residents to be part of the country - for the simple reason that these workers can contribute to the economy while being unable to claim basic social services such as health care of right to a fair trial.

I just found that idea interesting - that while a lot of nationals might see illegal residents as "cheating" the system, often, this very behavior is what is desired by the state.

Anonymous said...

I believe the USA was embarrassed by that recently - there were illegal immigrants working in the US for US contractors building the wall between Mexico and the Southern States. The wall is being erected to keep out 'illegal immigrants.' How ironic.

Anonymous said...

No surprise here. People are harassed for stupid or no reason at all. So what if they have a Muslim name, so what if they have a beard to symbolize the pride they have in their religion? Why is that such a crime? Why does every Muslim have to pay for the ignorance and idiocy of a few?
I don’t see other criminals being labelled as a Christian or Jewish terrorist, they are just terrorists, but when it is a Muslim, their religion suddenly becomes their identity!
That is just the unfair ways of our unjust world!

Hi. said...

Yeah I dont subscribe to this argument.

These dumb idiots do things in the name of Islam, the jews and christians dont.