Citing extradition and torture victim Maher Arar, the UN committee said Canada should do more to prevent extraditions where torture is a likely outcome.
The committee also criticized Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 2002 for what it described as a blanket exclusion of refugees and other people in need of protection. The new law, enacted almost a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, allows for the removal of foreign nationals who constitute a danger to the public or the security of Canada.On the positive side, the panel praised Canada for using the UN's broad definition of torture in its own criminal code (which, as we know, the US does not), and for deeming evidence obtained by torture inadmissible.
However, the Canadian report to the committee said "this is to be done only in exceptional circumstances and after the risk to the individual has been carefully balanced against the risk to Canadian society ... To date, Canada had not deported anyone to a country where the person was determined to face a substantial risk of torture."
It also welcomed Canada's application of criminal standards to its military personnel wherever located worldwide. Under this stipulation, soldiers cannot use the argument that they were following orders or plead exceptional circumstances -- including armed conflict -- in their defence.This is heartening, and it makes sense for Canada to examine its own role in Arar's ordeal. (There is an ongoing inquiry in Ottawa.)
Unfortunately, the countries who most need the panel's review are the least likely to heed their recommendations, but that will always be the problem with an international body of any type. Article here, thanks to ALPF, of course.