Canada urged to scrap terror law

Canada's government is facing criticism over emergency measures which allow it to hold foreign terrorist suspects indefinitely without trial.

    PM Paul Martin staunchly supports the anti-terrorist law

    The powers are being used by the authorities in anti-terrorist sweeps in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

    Alexa McDonough, foreign affairs spokeswoman of the leftist New Democratic Party, introduced a motion in the House of Commons on Monday calling for the withdrawal of "security certificates".

    The certificates permit officials to arrest, hold indefinitely or deport foreigners suspected of involvement with prescribed organisations.

    Five foreign nationals, all of Arab origin, are currently being held under the laws - some for already more than two years without trial.

    While they are able to appeal to a federal judge against their
    continued detention, neither the accused nor their lawyers are entitled to an open court hearing and the authorities are allowed to withhold evidence collected against them.

    Torture and death


    "The situation of these [five] men is clearly a violation of
    human rights," said McDonough, whose motion has also won support from the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

    "The situation of these [five] men is clearly a violation of human rights"

    Alexa McDonough,
    New Democratic Party

    Under the laws, Canada could deport any of the men to their home countries - even if they risked torture or death, she said.

    Meanwhile, Jim Judd, director of Canada's spy agency, the
    Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), told a Senate committee that his agency is allowed only to arrest foreigners under the "security certificates".

    Canadians suspected of similar links would have to be brought to trial.

    Judd admitted that since the legislation was passed in 2002, no Canadian citizen had been arrested on charges of involvement with terrorist organisations.



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