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Canadians Detained Abroad

    June 21, 2017

    Canadian citizen Hassan Diab has been held without charge in pre-trial detention for over 2 ½ years in France. If he was still in Canada, this long pretrial delay would violate standards established by a recent Supreme Court decision (R v Jordan). It’s time for the Canadian government to stand up for the rights of Hassan Diab and secure his release on bail.

    Hassan Diab has been in detention since his extradition to France in November 2014 to face charges in connection with a 1980 bombing outside a synagogue in Paris. The Ontario Superior Court judge presiding over the extradition case in 2011 expressed significant reservations about the reliability of the evidence and the prospects for a conviction. Rather than moving the case forward, subsequent investigations in France have only cast further doubt and Hassan Diab has yet to be charged with any crime.

    August 12, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    Two years ago, a nightmare of abuse and injustice erupted without any warning for Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi, who was living with his family in the United Arab Emirates and running a successful business selling household appliances. Security forces rushed in and arrested him at the hotel where was vacationing with his family in Dubai.

    Salim, originally from Libya, appeared to have been swept up in a wave of arbitrary arrests that were connected to wider political dynamics related to the UAE government’s political machinations in Libya. What followed was 645 days behind bars; 645 days of secrecy and abuse. Salim was originally held incommunicado, with UAE officials refusing to acknowledge he was in detention or to provide any details about where he was held. Amnesty was so concerned during those early days that we talked of his case as a “disappearance”. 

    For close to two years Salim endured torture, ill-treatment, untreated medical concerns, unfair legal proceedings, and other human rights violations. 

    June 20, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes the return of Salim Alaradi to Canada after more than 21 months in illegal detention in the United Arab Emirates. Supporters from Amnesty International welcomed Mr. Alaradi today when he arrived at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, where he briefly addressed media before continuing to his home in Windsor, Ontario. 

    “Amnesty International welcomes the news that Salim Alaradi has been able to reunite with his family and return to Canada.  Amnesty International supporters across Canada had campaigned on his behalf during his ordeal of unlawful imprisonment and torture in the United Arab Emirates,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.  “While he has regained his freedom, he has not seen justice for the serious human rights violations he endured.  Amnesty International will continue to stand with Salim in pressing for redress and accountability for what he has been through.”

    June 09, 2016

    Canadian-Iranian citizen Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who was arrested in Iran on June 6 in relation to her peaceful professional work, must be immediately and unconditionally released. Amnesty International considers her to be a prisoner of conscience. The organization calls on the Government of Canada to take all possible diplomatic measures to ensure her immediate release and safe return to Canada.

    June 01, 2016

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned that Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi is being prevented from leaving the United Arab Emirates due to a travel ban. This week, Mr. Alaradi was acquitted of charges brought against him by authorities in the UAE where he was held in illegal detention for more than 21 months. Mr. Alaradi was held without charges for the majority of his detainment and was denied access and communication from lawyers and family for months after his initial arrest in 2014. While in prison, he was tortured, granted uneven access to consular assistance and denied the right to a fair trial. This week, Amnesty International, supporters of Mr. Alaradi and his lawyers were encouraged by the long-delayed acquittal of charges against him on May 30th and by his release from detention on May 31st. However, after a prolonged saga of human rights violations, Amnesty International is deeply concerned that Mr. Alaradi is now being prevented from leaving the country and calls on authorities in the UAE to rescind all barriers to his freedom.    

    February 01, 2016

    By journalist and former prisoner of conscience Mohamed Fahmy @MFFahmy11 with Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve @AlexNeveAmnesty

    Held in an Egyptian jail for more than a year, Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy felt let down by Ottawa’s efforts to help him. Here he offers 12 ways the government can do better:

    In solitary confinement in a freezing Egyptian jail cell, with no sunlight or fresh air, my one hope was that the Canadian government was doing everything possible at the highest levels to advocate for my rights and for my release.

    I was let down.

    I am safely home now. But around the world there are other Canadian citizens, permanent residents and men and women with close Canadian connections who face dire conditions in foreign jails. They are unjustly imprisoned, held incommunicado, subjected to unfair trials, at risk of torture or under sentence of death.

    They too want to believe the Canadian government will spare no effort on their behalf.

    January 26, 2016

    Canadians, permanent residents, and others with close Canadian connections may be at risk of serious human rights violations when imprisoned in other countries. But the Canadian government has often been limited and inconsistent in actions to intervene and provide assistance.

    A Protection Charter is being proposed by Mohamed Fahmy, the Fahmy Foundation and Amnesty International to the Canadian government for reform in practices, policies and laws in 12 areas to address this critical gap.

    While some Canadians imprisoned abroad have received strong support at senior levels, others get virtually none. And there is a growing perception that some Canadians who face human rights violations abroad receive less political support than others might, because of their personal, family, political or religious background.

    February 23, 2015
    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. This article was orginally published in Slaw, Canada's online legal magazine. Human rights violations are always most likely to occur when no one is watching over the police, soldiers and guards who have the power and potential to commit abuses. That is certainly even more the case when secrecy is prevalent; which obviously describes the world of national security investigations and operations. That is why human rights organizations, experts and bodies – national and international – have long stressed that effective review and oversight must be central to the imperative of ensuring that human rights protection is not sacrificed in any country’s rush to uphold national security.
    February 12, 2015

    Amnesty International is reiterating its calls for the release of the Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy as their retrial began in Cairo today.

    “The notion that Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy now have to start this farcical process from scratch beggars belief,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahroui, Amnesty International’s Depuy Middle East and North Africa Director.
    "The message today's trial sends is that there is no justice for Egyptians."

    The men have been in prison for more than a year. Their earlier convictions were overturned after a deeply flawed trial.

    “It is crucial that Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy's continuing ordeal is not forgotten, particularly now that their Australian colleague Peter Greste is a free man. Like him, they are guilty of nothing more than carrying out their jobs as journalists. There is no reason that they should remain behind bars. The authorities should put an immediate end to their torment by dropping the charges and releasing them immediately and unconditionally,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    February 04, 2015

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    Office of the Prime Minister
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
    Fax: 613-941-6900

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    We are writing with a renewed sense of urgency about the case of Bashir Makhtal.  Mr. Makhtal, a Canadian citizen of Ethiopian Ogadeni origin, has been imprisoned in Ethiopia since January 2007 and is serving a life prison term after an unfair trial and appeal.  

    Credible and troubling allegations have now come to Amnesty International’s attention, indicating that he may have been subject to torture and ill-treatment, may have made a confession because of that torture, and is possibly facing a number of serious health problems. 

    Mr. Makhtal has authorized that this information be shared openly and publicly as he hopes it will generate wider understanding of his plight and generate renewed and increased action on his behalf.
    These very worrying reports require immediate attention and action from the Canadian government.  In particular:

    November 03, 2014

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa,and Roch Tassé, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

    A timely conference on Wednesday reminded us that as debate swirls about new national security measures in Canada, vital lessons have emerged over the past decade about protecting human rights.

    In the wake of last week’s attack in Ottawa the government is rolling out proposed changes to Canada’s security laws and practices. We don’t yet know the full extent.

    On Wednesday, a remarkable group of judges, lawyers, journalists, activists, former diplomats, academics and community leaders came together in Ottawa. We were joined by individuals whose lives have been turned upside down by human rights violations associated with national security investigations, charges, arrest and imprisonment.

    October 28, 2014

    By Omar Khadr, former Guatanamo Bay detainee

    Ten years ago the Canadian government established a judicial inquiry into the case of Maher Arar. That inquiry, over the course of more than two years of ground-breaking work, examined how Canada’s post-Sept. 11 security practices led to serious human rights violations, including torture.

    At that same time, 10 years ago and far away from a Canadian hearing room, I was mired in a nightmare of injustice, insidiously linked to national security. I have not yet escaped from that nightmare.

    As Canada once again grapples with concerns about terrorism, my experience stands as a cautionary reminder. Security laws and practices that are excessive, misguided or tainted by prejudice can have a devastating human toll.

    A conference Wednesday in Ottawa, convened by Amnesty International, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the University of Ottawa, will reflect on these past 10 years of national security and human rights. I will be watching, hoping that an avenue opens to leave my decade of injustice behind.

    October 24, 2013

    Russia: ‘Hooliganism’ charges do not apply to peaceful Greenpeace protest

    The new “hooliganism” charges levelled against crew members involved in last month’s Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise protest in Russian waters are inappropriate and should be dropped, Amnesty International said today.   

    In a statement on Wednesday, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee said that it was dropping the piracy charges originally brought against the activists and replacing them with charges of “hooliganism”. The maximum punishment under Russian law is seven years’ imprisonment.

    “The piracy charges originally brought in this case were patently absurd – but these new charges are no better. Hooliganism is a serious criminal offence in Russia, and it is not one that those engaging in peaceful protest should be prosecuted under,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    October 07, 2013

    Dr. Tarek Loubani & filmmaker John Greyson have been released from prison in Egypt.

    Thank you to the tens of thousands of Amnesty Interantional supporters who spoke up for their freedom!

    Amnesty International welcomes their safe return to Canada, following an intense period of campaigning backed by Amnesty International members in Canada and around the world.

    Following their release from prison, Tarek and John were temporarily unable to leave Egypt, in spite of no charges having been made, and in the absence of any court order that restricted their freedom to travel. Amnesty International will continue to urge Egyptian authorities to follow international human rights law in the treatment of all Egyptians detained during protests in Egypt.


    Their story: Tarek Loubani and John Greyson's detainment in Egypt

    Tarek and John were detained in August on charges of “violence”, “inciting violence” and “carrying weapons”, as well as “destroying public property”. They had been held alongside hundreds of Egyptians who were arrested during violence in Cairo on August 16th, 2013.

    September 24, 2013

    After more than five years in prison, and with an execution order on his life, Hamid has been released from prison in Iran!

    Tens of thousands of Canadians have worked together for this outcome, through tireless campaigning, personal letters of hope sent to Hamid, petitions, emails, talks in community centres, and simple word-of-mouth. Officials and government representatives in Canada added their voice, calling for Hamid's release in Parliament.

    Thank you to Amnesty International supporters in Canada and around the world for what you've helped accomplish.

    Hamid's Story:


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