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Top court rules against security certificates
Last Updated: Friday, February 23, 2007 | 6:20 PM ET
The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the security certificate system used by the federal government to detain and deport foreign-born terrorist suspects.
In a 9-0 judgment handed down Friday, the court found that the system, described by the government as a key tool for safeguarding national security, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The high court gave Parliament one year to re-write the law that’s keeping three men at the centre of the case in legal limbo.
The system was challenged on constitutional grounds by three men — Algerian-born Mohamed Harkat, Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui and Syrian native Hassan Almrei, who have all denied having ties to al-Qaeda and other such groups.
“It’s a very good decision and we’re certainly very pleased,” said lawyer Barbara Jackman, who represents Almrei. “What the Supreme Court decided was the law was not fair.”
The court said while it might not be arbitrary to detain the suspects in the first instance, it’s arbitrary to continue the detention without a review for such a long time, she said.
The decision “upheld the principle” of security certificates, but indicated that some changes need to be made, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Friday in Ottawa.
“We are going to look at the ruling carefully and it is our intention to follow the Supreme Court’s rulings,” Day said after a day of talks with U.S. and Mexican officials on a range of issues, including security measures.
“I’m optimistic that we will be able to put these changes in place.”
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