Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 18, 2002
Anti-terrorism laws stifle liberty - group
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
A new coalition that includes religious organizations says anti-terrorism measures adopted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the U.S. are having a "devastating" impact on civil liberties and human rights in Canada.
The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), which includes the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, wants a special committee of Parliament to immediately review the "far-reaching" measures adopted in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
"Suggesting we need to choose between security and human rights is misleading," said Hilary Homes, co-chair of the monitoring group, at a news conference Nov. 7.
Parliament adopted sweeping anti-terrorism measures in December 2001 and recently tabled Bill C-17 in the House of Commons. Both security measures give police and security forces "investigative powers, law enforcement tools and a level of discretionary powers never imagined before in Canada outside the War Measures Act," the ICLMG said.
It also said a major concern is the "broad and vague" definition of terrorism in the legislation. "It can be used to discourage legitimate political dissent and provides fertile ground for discrimination against certain minorities," it said.
The anti-terrorism legislation also affects the normal activities of charities, said Gerry Barr, the other co-chair. Revenue Canada is now carrying out systematic audits of Canadian charities, including security checks on individual board members, which may result in the de-registration of some organizations, he said.
Barr said Canadian NGOS are also reporting cases where southern partners are being refused visas to attend meetings in Canada or are simply being deported upon their arrival.