Use of evidence obtained through torture perpetuates the problem

Canada’s national police directives clearly violate international law, which dictates that countries must not use information or evidence obtained through torture

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

We have said it before; and we shall say it again.

Countries must not use evidence or information obtained through torture. In any circumstances. Doing so is a clear violation of international law, especially those countries who have signed onto the obligations within the UN Convention Against Torture. The Convention, which Canada ratified in 1985, states:

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

Yet, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has issued directives to both the Canadian Border Services Agency and the national police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), saying that they have the authority to use and share data and evidence that was likely obtained through torture.

Toews apparently has a short memory. Just six years ago, a federal commission recommended that Canada never share information with other countries if it is likely that it will cause or contribute to torture. This recommendation followed an investigation into the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was detained in the U.S. after RCMP provided faulty information to the US authorities. Arar was rendered to his native Syria, where he was tortured and detained for about a year.

Arar’s case was among those mentioned in the hefty criticisms leveled against the Canadian government during this year’s review by the UN Committee against Torture. The Committee condemned Canadian ‘complicity’ in torture.

Canada joins others such as Denmark in the shameful club of countries that justify their use of information obtained through torture by clinging to the long-dismissed arguments of ‘ticking-time bombs’ and public safety.

So, let’s again make this clear. The ticking-time bomb scenario doesn’t happen [PDF]. It’s clearly been proven false. Torture does not work [PDF].

And using information obtained through torture simply allows it to continue unabated.


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