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SECU Committee Report

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A. Context of the Committee’s study and mandate

In the wake of 9/11, Canada and other countries in the West quickly implemented anti-terrorism policies that, in many cases, resulted in the racial profiling of members of the Muslim and Arab communities as well as violations of civil liberties. The violations of the human rights of Messrs. Arar, Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin, Muslim-Canadian men who were deported and tortured in countries with questionable human rights records, illustrate the need for more careful consideration and review of our national security policies.

This report examines the implementation of the findings and recommendations arising from the exhaustive inquiries conducted by Justices O’Connor and Iacobucci, who were given the mandate by the Government of Canada to examine the role of Canadian officials in the Arar (Justice O’Connor), Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin (Justice Iacobucci) cases. These costly inquiries found that these Canadians were victims of inaccurate intelligence sharing practices by Canadian security agencies, and exposed the glaring lack of civilian oversight of our national security activities.

Given the serious deficiencies uncovered by these inquiries and the risks of not addressing them by fully implementing all the resulting recommendations, the Committee decided, on February 10, 2009,[1] to evaluate the government’s progress in this regard. This evaluation became necessary because the government has still not implemented certain recommendations, most notably those dealing with oversight, although over two years have passed since Justice O’Connor issued his conclusions. Like the majority of witnesses it heard from, the Committee urges the government to immediately implement all the recommendations from these inquiries, as the failure to do so could result in further serious violations of the rights of Canadians.

B. Committee’s approach and report structure

To summarize the lessons learned from the tragic events that led to these inquiries and to ensure that action is taken on their findings and recommendations, the Committee called upon human rights and national security experts and met with officials from many the departments and agencies to which the recommendations pertained.[2]

This report summarizes the information gleaned from the Committee’s review. The report is divided into three parts. The first outlines the mandates of the inquiries and summarizes their main conclusions. The second part examines the implementation of the recommendations made in Justice O’Connor’s two reports. Finally, the third part presents the Committee’s findings and recommendations.

[1]              Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2). Committee Minutes, February 10, 2009.

[2]              A complete list of the witnesses appearing before the Committee is provided in Appendix A, and a list of their briefs is in Appendix B.