Hassan Diab’s Release a Long Overdue Victory for Human Rights
Amnesty International welcomes today’s long-overdue order for the release of Canadian-Lebanese dual citizen Hassan Diab from pre-trial detention in France, following a court ruling dismissing all allegations against him. In contravention of international human rights standards, Mr. Diab spent more than three years in pre-trial detention without being officially charged or brought to trial. He remained imprisoned despite eight consecutive orders from four separate French investigative judges that he be released on bail, all of which were summarily overturned on appeals perfunctorily lodged by French prosecutors.
“For more than three years, Hassan has been trapped in a cruel and unjust limbo of pre-trial detention on flimsy evidence as French authorities refused to either release him, even conditionally, or lay formal charges and proceed to trial. His release today is not only long overdue, it is testament to the glaring human rights violations he has suffered during close to 38 months of imprisonment and solitary confinement without the opportunity for bail or to defend himself in court,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “Our thoughts are with Hassan and his family as they are soon to be reunited following this years-long saga of injustice.”
“That a Kafkaesque experience of more than three years of human rights violations was possible only due to a decision made through Canada’s Extradition Act and associated legal proceedings points to the need for a full review of that legislation to guard against future similar injustices,” Alex Neve added.
Hassan Diab has been detained since November 2014, when he was extradited from Canada to France to face criminal charges in connection with a 1980 bombing outside of a synagogue in Paris. Mr. Diab consistently professed his innocence and on eight occasions French investigative judges ordered his release on bail, citing evidence Mr. Diab was in Beirut during the Paris bombing and a lack of reasonable prospects for finding any evidence of his guilt. Each time, the Court of Appeal quashed the release orders after appeals by the prosecutor.
When Mr. Diab’s extradition was ordered by Ontario Superior Court in 2011, the presiding judge expressed significant reservations about the reliability of the evidence and the prospects for his conviction but concluded that Canadian legislation gave him no choice but to authorize the extradition. Amnesty International intervened in Mr. Diab’s appeal of the extradition decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal and made arguments that steps must be taken to ensure, that no torture-tainted evidence was relied upon in the case for his extradition.
In June 2017 Amnesty International wrote to French and Canadian officials raising questions and concerns about his lengthy pre-trial detention in France, in contravention of obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. Amnesty International Canada had specifically called on the Canadian government to press French authorities to agree to Mr. Diab’s conditional release on bail. The Canadian government’s efforts on his behalf were welcome and much appreciated.
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