Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prolonging The Agony

It's like a Shakespearean play.  "Will no one rid me of this (turbulent priest)?"  Only this is not a monarch groaning about the strait-laced theological demands of a God-ridden priest, but a modern-day government attempting to rid itself of the presence of a man whom their security agencies believe to be a past and perhaps future threat to the stability and security of the country.

It is now a decade since the Government of Canada first attempted to remove Mohamed Harkat from the country.  It used the instrument of the-then relatively new security certificate law for that purpose.  But Mohamed Harkat steadfastly appealed that if returned to his native Algeria his life would be in danger from Algerian authorities.  Why would Algeria be interested in this man if they too did not consider him a threat to their sovereign security?

Judge Simon Noel declared Mohamed Harkat an active and dangerous member of al-Qaeda, in December 2010, when eight years had elapsed between the government's initial attempts to deport the man after his arrest in Ottawa.  But the case has richoted between the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada for years, as Mohamed Harkat's lawyers have invoked protection under Canadian law.

Twice, judges have ordered him deported as a terrorist.  Twice, higher courts overturned their verdicts, finding that the legal process which reached that decision was placed into question.  The Federal Court of Appeal held that right to fair trial had been compromised, since CSIS had destroyed wire-tap recordings used as evidence to secure his guilt as a sleeper-member of al-Qaeda.

Now, Mohamed Harkat's lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court to declare the security certificate unconstitutional, and to release Mohamed Harket from suspicion and detention through house arrest.  Equally federal lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the findings that the Algerian-born man constitutes a threat to the country, and to proceed finally, with his deportation.

Mr. Harkat views his deportation case an unending storm swirling threateningly around his head.  He wants a normal life.  "I live day by day", he says.  And it is excessively unfair, what has happened to their client, according to his lawyers.  On the other hand, has not the government of a free and fair democracy, one under threat by sinister and explosive forces that have struck their deadly blows elsewhere, the right to protect itself and its citizens?

It is amazing that a government is constrained through its own system of justice, unwilling to enable it to remove an identified threat, while the individual who has been implicated through membership in a violently destructive ideology committed to terrorism is able to manipulate the justice system to prolong an intolerable situation - both for himself, as testified by his lawyers - and the country itself.

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