Torture of Syrian-born Canadian is deplorable

Last fall U.S. officials detained Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, for alleged links to terrorist groups and sent him to Syria after determining they lacked evidence against him. Syrian officials imprisoned him for a year, allegedly repeatedly torturing him using methods such as caning, electrical shocks and painful suspension in a tire-like “dulab,” conduct that surprises few. Anonymous U.S. officials admit Arar’s treatment “fits the profile” of CIA policy. We feel reported U.S. conduct is immoral and illegal. If such conduct also evidences CIA policy, that policy must cease.

U.S. action in this matter is nothing short of outsourcing torture. The United States found someone else to do its “dirty work” for it, which is cowardly and irresponsible. Sending Arar to a country that will torture him barely differs from the United States detaining and torturing him.

Evidently Arar’s adopted country might also have facilitated the human rights violations. While Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien condemned the alleged U.S. action, other reports suggest Canadian police approved it.

It is obvious Syria’s alleged conduct is draconian and unacceptable. International law, furthermore, condemns such practices in all situations, including wartime. Specifically, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishments, which the United States signed and ratified, outlaws both Syria’s conduct and sending an individual to a country that practices torture.

As such, U.S. actions are morally repulsive and illegal. Nations must respect the rule of law, which requires that a court determine Arar’s guilt or innocence, even in times of war. If he committed acts of terror or other crimes, a court should have heard his case and convicted him. Under no circumstance should anyone have tortured Arar or sent him where others will torture him. Provided the accusations are true, Arar deserves an adequate remedy.