On Torture, Harper Government Wants It Both Ways

The Canadian government proclaims proudly that it does not condone torture, while simultaneously telling national policing and security agencies that it condones the use of information gleaned via torture. The directive tells investigators that they will be allowed to use information “that may have been obtained by methods condemned by the Canadian government.”

The two positions really actually mesh, but the Harper Conservatives don’t seem to see any issue.

The direction was given to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) around the same time in late 2010. Earlier this year, the Canadian Press obtained only information on the directive to CSIS.

Now it appears that CSIS, the RCMP and CBSA – the country’s major security agencies – are allowed to use information gleaned from torture in the event of a threat to human life or property.

In such cases, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews directed that CSIS should “share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities, including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment.”

The directive effectively ignores Canada’s international obligation to prevent torture of prisoners, as a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Of course, the Harper government has had no real issues with ignoring international obligations in the past – or, in fact, Canada’s obligations to its own citizens.

The Canadian government was found to have had a hand in the torture of three Canadian men, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, by sharing information with Syria during their imprisonment there. The Federal Court found that Almalki had been wronged by the RCMP who labelled him an imminent threat and sent questions to Syrian investigators despite the risk that he would be tortured to answer. In El Maati’s case, false confessions obtained through torture were used by Canadian law enforcement to get search warrants.

Almalki’s court case against the government was suspended so an inquiry into his detainment, as well as El Maati and Nureddin’s, could be held.

The inquiry found that there had been a breakdown in communications between government departments and declared that the actions of the RCMP and CSIS  had led “indirectly” to mistreatment of the three men. The men have still not received any official apology or compensation.

Now the Canadian government appears to be easing up on its condemnation of torture as a practice to gather information, so long as Canadian officials are only indirectly involved.

Related Stories:

Senate Urged To Release Torture Report

On Memorial Day Weekend, American Reckons With Torture

UPDATE: Omar Khadr Still Waiting In Guantanamo To Be Released To Canada

Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes


Patricia N.
Patricia N4 years ago

How many Canadians realize that Harper wishes to be a U.S. citizen? Raise your hands. He sides with the U.S. on every subject and wants to drag us along with him. Oh for the days with Mr. T. when he told them to go suck eggs. The world will now think Canadians condone torture.....just makes me sick to my stomach and soul.

Huber F.
Huber F4 years ago

This is revenge with viral effect. Hell breaks depths of chaos.

Michael O.
Michael O4 years ago

The Harper Regime makes me more ashamed to be Canadian with each passing day. :-(

Stephanie Hungerford

They are Canadian's they should never have been sent to Syria a known place that tortures the world is just getting more and more evil even in the highest levels of government when they let this take place. It is wrong and if it was a mistake apologies are appropriate

Lynne B.
Lynne B4 years ago

Torture is not right, but do you think that forces captured in afghanistan will be tickled with feathers. We know from the 2nd gulf war that uk forces were tortured.
Sometimes non physical discomfort works just as well. No need to be barbaric.

Phillipa W.
Phillipa W4 years ago

Harper's regime sounds incredibly scary

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi4 years ago

Human rights champions Hippocrates

Rose B4 years ago

Signed Petition

Carla van der Meer

Harper has got to go, for so many reasons, the greatest of which is the fact that he is deep in the pockets of Enbridge.

Myriam G.
Myriam G4 years ago

Dear fellow Canadians,

Next time, please, PLEASE, convince as many people as you can to go vote. I know each of you guys voted, after all, if you're on Care2, you're probably aware that democracy is REALLY important. Still, you may have a few friends that are cynical, that say that voting doesn't really a difference... I know I have some friends like that...

So, please, next time, try to make sure that more of these people vote. COnvince as many people as possible. It's the only way we can get rid of this kind of dangerous nonsense!!!