Canada’s anti-terror law allowing indefinite detention of suspects

>TORONTO (AP) – Canada’s lower house Wednesday passed a revised anti-terrorism law that remains one of the country’s most contentious, allowing the government to detain foreign terror suspects indefinitely without disclosing evidence against them.

Canada’s Supreme Court struck down the previous law last year, finding that it violates Canada’s bill of rights. The law said noncitizens suspected of being a threat to national security could be held indefinitely under security “certificates,” and did not allow them to see details of the case against them.

The court said the noncitizen suspects should have a right to respond to evidence used against them by intelligence agents and noted that Britain allows government-appointed special advocates to review such sensitive intelligence material.

It suspended the judgment from taking effect for a year, to give Parliament time to rewrite the law, called the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Canadian government amended the law last fall to allow suspects to have a special advocate, who will access to the evidence against them while the courts review their deportation orders.

The resulting bill passed the lower house by a 196-71 vote Wednesday. It now goes to the senate, an unelected body that usually approves legislation passed by the lower house.

Under the revised law, a special advocate – appointed by the government – would protect the person’s interests by challenging the government’s claims of secrecy over the evidence, as well the relevance and weight of the facts.

Once informed of confidential details of the case, the advocate would be prohibited from discussing the information with others, including the person detained or slated for deportation.

Canada’s Minister of Justice has established a list of independent, qualified special advocates who can represent suspects. They must have at least five years of legal experience, no conflicts of interest and appropriate security clearance.

Although the security certificates have been around for decades, their use became more contentious after Sept. 11.

Six Arab Muslim men now stand accused of terrorist links under the certificates. All deny the charges. They are currently in jail or living under strict bail conditions, facing deportation from Canada.