stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Maher Arar: As Canadians, where is our outrage?
space
space
By PAUL KNOX
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, October 1, 2003 – Page A19

In any self-respecting democracy where individual rights and the rule of law were held dear, Maher Arar's ordeal would be a national scandal.

It's begun to attract attention among Canadians. But we're not there yet.

Mr. Arar, who was born in Syria, is a citizen of that country and of Canada. He is a telecommunications engineer who spent several years in Ottawa, where his wife and two children still live. On Sept. 26, 2002, while travelling from Europe to Canada, he was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York.

He was interrogated about terrorist activities and deported. Apparently, he spent several days at a CIA interrogation camp in Jordan before being jailed in Syria, which claims he has links to the al-Qaeda network.

Mr. Arar faces no formal charges in Syria, Canada, or the United States. But, he has been jailed by one of the harshest regimes in the Middle East, without access to a lawyer. The London-based Syrian Human Rights Committee says he's been tortured with beatings and electric shocks, and by being doubled over for hours inside a tire.

Who decided Mr. Arar should be seized? Over the summer, U.S. and Canadian officials struggled to get their story straight. They now claim the decision to detain him in New York was Washington's alone.

But no less than three senior officials have either said flatly that the RCMP wanted Mr. Arar deported, or refused to rule out the possibility that the force gave information about him to its U.S. counterparts -- information that could have led directly to his current plight.

Assistant RCMP commissioner Richard Proulx had a chance to tell the House of Commons foreign affairs committee last week that the Mounties' hands were clean. He declined, saying: "I can't comment on operational details."

Solicitor-General Wayne Easter said in July that individual Mounties acting without approval of their superiors might have passed on information that alerted U.S. officials to Mr. Arar.

And U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told a private audience in April that Mr. Arar was "very well known" to Canadian police -- who, he said, "wouldn't be very happy to see him come back to Canada."

Mr. Cellucci would do well to read his own government's latest description of Syrian jailers' tender ministrations.

"There was credible evidence that security forces continued to use torture," the State Department says in the Syria section of its annual human-rights survey. Quoting ex-prisoners and human-rights advocates, it says torture methods include the usual electric shocks, beatings, extraction of fingernails and objects shoved up the rectum.

Plus the following: "Hyperextending the spine, bending the detainees into the frame of a wheel and whipping exposed body parts, and using a chair that bends backwards to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the victim's spine."

Mr. Cellucci's colleagues go on to say that Syria's Supreme State Security Court, before which Mr. Arar is expected to be tried, is not considered independent of President Bashir Assad. Proceedings are closed, there is no right of appeal, and lawyers have no right of access to their clients before the trial.

"Defendants have not been allowed to argue in court that their confessions were coerced," the survey says. "There was no known instance in which the court ordered a medical examination for a defendant who claimed that he was tortured."

Two questions come into focus. First, why is Mr. Graham's department trying to get Mr. Arar out of his Syrian predicament, while U.S. authorities are still on the record as saying they and the RCMP are reading from the same program?

Second, why will Mr. Easter not dispel the suspicion that RCMP officers handed over crucial data on Mr. Arar, fully aware that current U.S. practice is to turn over certain terror "suspects" to known human-rights abusers?

Only an independent investigation is likely to clear up this one. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien should order it. As for Mr. Cellucci, surely no interview, no dinner party, no cocktail conversation is complete without a pointed question about his wink-wink innuendo.

You might ask: What if Mr. Arar really is an al-Qaeda collaborator? Shouldn't the authorities do something?

Fine. If there's evidence, charge him. Let the truth come out. But the moment Mr. Arar landed in Damascus, the prospects for truth -- to say nothing of justice -- diminished dramatically.

To recap: A Canadian citizen was detained by a foreign power, delivered into the custody of a repressive dictatorship, and left to rot in jail without charge. He has been denied the most elementary legal rights. There are alarming reports of torture. The suspicion lingers that Canadian authorities were complicit in this travesty.

Where is the loud, sustained, all-party, cross-country outrage? What has become of us?

pknox@globeandmail.ca

Visit http://www.globeandmail.com and click on International to see Worldbeat on the Web, a multimedia feature.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Paul_Knox Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page