When Amnesty International and the British Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the independent Military Police Complaints Commission about the transfer of Afghan prisoners and their possible abuse, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “There is no refusal to cooperate” with the investigation. But Peter Tinsley, the chairman of the Commission, called public hearings because documents received from the government were censored.
Minister of Defense Peter McKay said, “We’re always prepared to work with this commission.” On April 11, the Conservative minority government asked the courts to rule that the Commission lacks the authority to investigate the transfers.
According to Paul Champ, representing the two organizations calling for the investigation, “It’s an attempt at cover-up. Now that they face public examination they are determined to avoid it at all costs.”
M.P. Dawn Black, the defense critic for the socialist New Democratic Party, commented on the fact that the Conservatives had campaigned on a platform of increased governmental transparency. Well, that was then and this is now.
Fugitive rabbi in Canada
Elior Chen is a young Ultra-Orthodox rabbi who fled Israel and is apparently hiding in Canada. He is wanted on charges of child abuse. Chen is accused of engaging directly in abuse and of directing his followers to abuse their children to discipline them. Among the severe punishments inflicted were burning, hitting them with hammers, and forcing them to drink noxious substances. Israel is seeking his arrest and deportation back to Israel.
Followers of the rabbi were arrested in Israel in 2005, in a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock.
Canadian charged in stabbing
Alaa Mohammed Ali, a dual Iraqi-Canadian citizen and translator for the American forces in Iraq, is accused of stabbing another civilian contractor back in February. Under recent American legislation, Ali will be tried by a U.S. military tribunal. The law was enacted by Congress after Blackwater guards killed 11 or more Iraqi civilians last September.
Commission criticizes Maclean’s
The Ontario Human Rights Commission criticized Maclean’s magazine and media generally in a statement issued on Aril 9, saying that they stir up Islamophobia. A complaint against the magazine was brought to the Commission by four law students, on behalf of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC). The charge was brought in reaction to an article by Mark Steyn, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” in which Steyn predicted that Europe was bound to be conquered by Islam because the growing Muslim population of the continent would skyrocket due to a high birth rate among Muslims, while the rest of the population is in decline.
After the CIC and Maclean’s were unable to agree on an approach to giving CIC the right to rebuttal, the magazine ran a piece by Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, which provided a full rebuttal of Steyn’s argument.
The Commission refused to act formally on the complaint before it, pointing out that the matter of the article was beyond their legislated authority. Reacting to the statement by the Commission, Sameer Zuberi, speaking for the Council on American-Islamic Relations—Canada (CAIR-CAN), praised the students for their efforts and welcomed the statement by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
200 lashes for 17-year-old
On top of the Saudi death sentence hanging over the head of 22-year-old Canadian Mohamed Kohail, his 17-year-old brother Sultan has now been sentenced to a year in prison and 200 lashes. The two were involved in a schoolyard brawl during which one boy was killed.
According to the Kohail family, Sultan, Mohamed, and Muhanna Ezzat, a Jordanian, were attacked by around 15 others. They claim to have a video showing the boy who died, kicking Mohamed in the head.
The Kohail family is appealing the convictions, but their lawyer was thrown out of the courtroom for seeking to overturn Mohamed’s sentence. The judge also threatened to take away his license to practice law. Ezzat is also under sentence of death.
Khadr has it easy?
Lawyers for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the Yemeni former driver for Osama bin Laden, are claiming that their client is getting worse treatment at Guantanamo than Omar Khadr is getting. They allege that Canadian pressure has gotten Khadr transfer to less severe quarters for detention and visits from Canadian officials to see to his conditions.
Hamdan, by contrast, is in maximum security. His lawyers claim that Yemen, his home country, lacks the clout that Canada has.