Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 12, 2004
Bishops back call for Arar inquiry
By ART BABYCH
"Canadian and international human rights would be well served if . . . those of Arab ancestry, are never again mistreated in such a way,"
- Bishop Blaise Morand
Morand said in the letter, "These simple words are worthy of guiding us all in our common pursuit of a better future. In this same spirit, we urge you to establish an independent public inquiry into the Arar case without delay."
Arar, 32, was returning to Canada after a vacation with his family in Tunisia last year when he was detained by U.S. authorities in New York. He was accused of having terrorist links and was deported to Jordan and then Syria, his birth country.
A CanWest News Service report said unnamed Canadian and U.S. intelligence officials said they are "100 per cent sure" that he trained at the Khaldun Camp in Afghanistan but denied any wrongdoing on their part.
Arar's family and organizations including Amnesty International and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives have also called for an inquiry into the case.
Mary Corkery, executive director of Kairos, a coalition of 11 denominational churches and Church organizations, also said "We need assurance that our human rights are not being and will never be traded to the United States for the security of trade interests."
Arar's lawyer, Lorne Waldman, called it "outrageous" that apparently senior intelligence officials "are slandering Maher Arar with impunity."
A public inquiry is needed to investigate who the officials are and what role they played in the case, he said.
"We need to know why they passed information on to the United States, and what that information was. We need to know whether they played a role in his interrogation and torture in Syria."
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