Amnesty International calls for a human rights-based national security framework for Canada
Canada must put human rights at the forefront of its approach to national security by adopting a rights-based framework in its upcoming reform of current laws, policy and practices, says an Amnesty International policy brief released today.
“For too long, Canadians have been presented with the false and misleading notion that inescapable trade-offs must be made between protection of human rights and ensuring Canadians are kept safe from security threats,” said Alex Neve. “By adopting a human rights-based framework for national security, Canada can demonstrate leadership in addressing grave human rights shortcomings in its current approach while also better ensuring the overall security of its citizens.”
Amnesty International’s policy brief outlines five guiding principles to form the basis of a human rights-based framework to national security and calls for a number of existing laws and policies to be repealed or reformed.
Amnesty International is calling for Canada’s binding national and international human rights obligations to be expressly incorporated across all national security laws. The submission recommends the adoption of comprehensive safeguards against human rights violations by security and law enforcement agencies, including through robust national security oversight and review, regular reviews of national security laws, and action to redress past national security-related human rights violations.
Many laws enacted under Bill C-51, Ministerial Directions and powers granted to security agencies since 2001 fall short of Canada’s human rights obligations under national and international law. In some cases, they have been instrumental in the commission of grave human rights violations such as arbitrary detention and torture, including in many cases against Canadian citizens. Amnesty International outlines nine recommendations for the repeal or amendment of measures currently in place which allow for deportations to risk of torture, authorized human rights violations by the country’s security and intelligence agency, arbitrary detention without charge, violations of free expression information-sharing leading to risk of torture or privacy violations, and other concerns.
“Through Bill C-51, Ministerial Directions and other measures, Canada currently has an approach to national security which continues to place human rights in jeopardy and in some cases flagrantly violates fundamental principles of human rights, including the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment,” said Béatrice Vaugrante, Directrice Générale of Amnistie internationale Canada francophone. “The current national security reform process must at a minimum address these fundamental shortcomings which do not safeguard justice and do not increase Canadians’ overall safety.”
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