Rule of Law Triumphs in Canada
Canada's Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin says in the ruling: “The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process.”
This decision should also be viewed in comparison to the US stance on the issue. The Military Commission Act of 2006 blatantly retracts basic rights, such as habeas corpus, from non-US citizens (see previous posts). Furthermore, recent court rulings underscore the slippery slope the justice system is sliding down. Last week a federal court in Washington DC upheld that Act and struck down petitions representing the aspirations of dozens of Guantanamo detainees to a fair day in court.
Here are excerpts from some articles on the decision:
New York Times - Canadian Court Limits Detention in Terror Cases
OTTAWA, Feb. 23 — Canada’s highest court on Friday unanimously struck down a law that allows the Canadian government to detain foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence and without charges while their deportations are being reviewed.
The detention measure, the security certificate system, has been described by government lawyers as an important tool for combating international terrorism and maintaining Canada’s domestic security. Six men are now under threat of deportation without an open hearing under the certificates.
“We’ve started to see the rollback,” said Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “Today the Supreme Court of Canada has said, ‘Make sure you put human rights at the center of how you prevent terrorism.’ ”
Top court overturns federal security certificates
CTV.ca News Staff Updated: Fri. Feb. 23 2007 10:38 PM ET
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) unanimously ruled today that federal security certificates, used to detain suspected terrorists, are unconstitutional. The 9-0 judgment found that the system violated the Charter of Rights.
The certificates allowed government officials to use secret court hearings, indefinite prison terms and summary deportations when dealing with non-citizens accused of having terrorist ties.
That process is a violation of fundamental justice, wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
The judgment is not saying that the detentions are wrong, but that the accused must have access to the evidence against them, said Thompson.