Canada lower house passes new security certificates bill ordered by high court

[JURIST] The lower house of the Canadian parliament passed a new security certificates bill [text] Wednesday by a margin of 196-71 [roll call]. The House of Commons introduced [JURIST report] the bill in October in response to last year's Supreme Court decision [text] that gave it one year to re-write existing law or have it voided as unconstitutional. Security certificates [PSC backgrounder] allow the Canadian government to order the detention and deportation of foreign terrorist suspects in private hearings without the presence of suspects or their lawyers. The new bill, if passed by the Senate, would give detainees access to a UK-style special advocate [JURIST report] at private hearings empowered to review and challenge materials that detainees themselves could not see.

The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled last February that the government's use of security certificates to indefinitely detain and deport foreigners with suspected ties to terrorism violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text; CDCH materials]. Three Arab Muslim men - Adil Charkaoui, Hassan Almrei and Mohamed Harkat [case summaries] - had argued [JURIST report] before the high court that their indefinite detentions were unconstitutional. Suspected of membership in al Qaeda, the men were arrested on special security certificates authorized by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [text]. The Court said in its ruling that indefinite detentions under security certificates were permissible as long as evidence that detainees themselves could not see could be challenged; it said it would delay application of its judgment for one year in order to allow Parliament time to comply with its ruling. The bill must go into effect with Senate approval by February 23 to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. AP has more.

 

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