Good News: A long awaited apology from Canada
Late in the day on Friday, March 17, we received the wonderful news that there has at very, very long last been settlement reached between Abdullah Almalki / Ahmad Elmaati / Muayyed Nureddin and the federal government with respect to Canada’s responsibility for the torture and other serious human rights violations the three men went through in Syria (and also Egypt in Ahmad’s case) between 2001 and 2004. It would be an understatement to say this is overdue. It would not be an overstatement to say this is an enormously welcome relief for the men and their families. Above all else I pay tribute to them – and their families – for their courage and determination in not giving up in their crucial pursuit of justice and redress.
"This is a victory for Canada and every Canadian who holds dear the Charter of Right and Freedoms, the rule of law, freedom, equality, and dignity. It is also a victory for those who abhor torture, arbitrary detention, bigotry and racism. This long fought for result will hopefully give hope to everyone who has been wronged. Hopefully, it will also boost their resilience, strengthen their resolve, allow them to have more patience and persistence, and help them to keep on keeping on, as a victory for justice is a victory for all of us."
Abdullah Almalki (pictured above; read his full statemnt here)
Three torture survivors receive apology and compensation from Canada
Amnesty International has been actively campaigning on these cases since the fall of 2003, when Maher Arar returned to Canada and shared very serious concern about Abdullah Almalki, who he had seen during his own imprisonment.
Over the 13+ years since then, with your support, Amnesty has released Urgent Actions, letter writing campaigns and petitions. We advocated for a judicial inquiry into their cases, and were a leading intervenor in that inquiry when it was held (the Iaobucci Inquiry, named for the retired Supreme Court of Canada justice who headed it) over the course of 2007 and 2008. The Iacobucci report, released in October 2008, documented the many ways that Canadian action and inaction had contributed to the human rights violations they experienced. We worked in partnership with others in the successful effort to get a House of Commons motion in 2009 calling for the government to apologize and compensate the men. And we raised their cases repeatedly at the United Nations (the Human Rights Committee in 2005 and 2015, and the Committee against Torture in 2012). And of course we carried out numerous press conferences, media interviews, published op-eds and pursued all other openings to keep the cases in the public eye. That has included profiling the cases in numerous Human Rights Agendas over the years.
Over this intense period of campaigning at many levels of government, and with changing governments, we have developed close relationships of solidarity and partnership with Abdullah, Ahmad and Muayyed, As many of you know, Abdullah was a powerful and eloquent spokesperson for us during Amnesty's Stop Torture campaign, and joined us in speaking on Parliament Hill as part of our successful campaign to push the government to agree to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
Amnesty has been in touch with each Abdullah, Ahmad and Muayyed since this announcment and has heard of their immense sense of relief and closure, as well as their gratitude for the constant support from Amnesty over the years.
You can learn more about this long-awaited settlement as well as the steps needed to maintain this momentum of accountability for torture, including settlements with respect to other outstanding cases, notably Omar Khadr, and legal and policy changes to prohibit the possibility of complicity in torture through our intelligence relationships, deportation practices by reading our press release :
Thank you everyone for all of your diligent work over these 13+ years to bring about this outcome. This is another very important reminder that perseverance is so fundamentally important in our human rights work.