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Quebec Bar permitted to intervene in Charkaoui hearing

Public trial continues despite lack of adequate CSIS evidence

Early into Adil Charkaoui’s public hearing Friday, Judge Tremblay-Lamer ruled that the Quebec Bar Association (BQ) could intervene in the constitutionality of the new security certificate law, Bill C-3.

The BQ asked to intervene in favour of Charkaoui two months after he contested the constitutionality of the security certificate law. The government uses security certificates to detain non-citizens under threat of deportation, even when it is understood that their deportation may lead to torture or death in their home country.

“He should not be under these conditions because the law under which he is detained is not constitutional,” said Johanne Doyon, Charkaoui’s lawyer, after the proceedings.

Charkaoui – a Moroccan-born father of three who has lived in Montreal since 1995 and completed his Master’s degree in French in 2006 – has never been charged under the Criminal Code.

He spent two years in jail after being named under a security certificate in 2003, and currently faces strict conditions of house arrest. For instance, Charkaoui must wear a GPS tracker-ankle bracelet and be accompanied by one of his parents at all times. He does not have access to the Internet, cell phones, or fax machines and cannot leave the island of Montreal.

When the public hearings resume on December 9, Charkaoui’s lawyers will challenge these severe conditions, and also focus on the problems with the summaries of evidence against Charkaoui provided by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

In June, Supreme Court stated that CSIS must provide real evidence – more than just summaries of evidence in security certificate cases.

“We will cross-examine the government witnesses to show failure of disclosure by the summary,” Doyon said.

When Tremblay-Lamer ordered CSIS to submit its evidence to her in a secret trial on October 27, CSIS requested an additional six months to do so.

The Judge has not yet seen CSIS’s evidence against Charkaoui, yet the public hearings continue. Further, in the nearly six years Charkaoui has been under a security certificate, neither he nor his lawyers have seen the evidence against him.

During the proceedings, Tremblay-Lamer introduced the idea of two “phases” to the public hearings, one without, and a second with CSIS’s secret evidence – a notion Doyon dismissed.

Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui member Mary Foster said the Tremblay-Lamer used the “phase” idea in an attempt to legitimize a public trial without any evidence.

“It’s like a parallel universe where there’s no legal precedence,” Foster said of the hearings.

About 40 people attended the proceedings, during which Tremblay-Lamer routinely interrupted Charkaoui’s lawyers, who, at different times, specifically requested they be able to complete their sentences.

Following the proceedings, Charkaoui also noted the lack of definitions for terms like “terrorism,” “groups,” “contacts,” and “national security” as a major problem in security certificate law.

“In this Medieval law, nothing is defined,” Charkaoui said in French.

Despite C-3’s introduction of a Special Advocate – a lawyer privy to secret evidence, which they are not allowed to share with detainees, and who has no obligation to client confidentiality – the new security certificate law still violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled the certificates unconstitutional in February 2007, but suspended their decision for one year, and the Conservatives were able to push C-3 through before the Supreme Court’s decision came into effect this February.