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Canada: Abusive Counterterrorism Measures Struck Down

On February 23, the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the provisions of a Canadian immigration law that enabled the government to detain foreign terrorism suspects, often for years, without charge or trial and to deport them. Human Rights Watch and the University of Toronto had intervened in the case and delivered oral arguments before the Court in June. Human Rights Watch has long contended that Canada’s treatment of terrorism suspects violates the prohibition against indefinite detention, internationally recognized procedural guarantees, and the absolute obligation not to send a person to a country where he or she would be at risk of torture. The Canadian press has labeled the Court’s recent decision as easily the most important one to be issued during the 2006 term. The Court’s ruling sets a precedent for the reform of similarly abusive laws worldwide, sending a clear message that fundamental human rights must not be sacrificed in the name of counterterrorism.

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