Deportation and Torture of Maher Arar

Posted: October 13, 2011 by ryjustdee in The Arar Affair / O'Connor Commission
Tags: , , , ,

In Canada we are fortunate to have a stable criminal justice system. When people are accused of a crime they are presumed innocent, and it is incumbent upon the state to demonstrate their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law governed by rules of due process. Despite this, there are some instances where our criminal justice system may make mistakes that is detrimental to the reputation of policing and law organizations. Some that are less fortunate have to suffer under brutal and unfair situations which would seem unappealing to the westernized world that we reside in. Some countries in the world use cruel and unusual punishments as methods of interrogation and execution of alleged criminals. In these same countries they are no stranger to police deviance and corruption.

The web audit on Maher Arar showed many reliable sources such as, CBC, Vancouver Sun, and the Globe and Mail. These sites helped me produce my overview of this topic. Also article by Jules Lobel Review of Litigation gave some really good insight into the Arar case. But these website often reiterated the information that I already had for the blog topic. Also I came across one website with the caption “Maher Arar is a liar”, in which this blogger bashes Maher Arar about the ordeal he was in. It is kind to take this source seriously due to the fact they do not have any real sources about the Arar case.

Maher Arar came to Canada in 1987 and is a full citizen of Canada. He attended McGill University where he obtained his bachelors degree in computer engineering. He and his family moved from Montreal to Ottawa where in 2001 he opened his own consulting company, Simmscoms inc.; Arar was detained for 12 days in the US and deported to Syria and spent another year in jail. How this case became such big deal to the media in regards to police deviance was Maher Arar was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC) during a layover where he was coming back from a family vacation in Tunisia. The officials in New York because he was “subject to lookout for” as being apart of a terrorist organization (Lobel, 2008) After his detention in the US he got deported to Syria. Syria is known to practice torture and it is apart of Syrian police culture to get information from their suspects (Lobel, 2008). What Arars’ lawyers argued was the US officials sent him to Syria because the US official’s knew that they practice torture and they wanted answer’s from Maher Arar about his allege ties to a terrorist group by the name of Al-Queda. During the one year he was imprisoned in Syria, he was kept in inhumane conditions and was beaten daily with cables by the Syrian officials (Lobel, 2008). At one point during incarceration he lied about being involved with Al-Queda to ease the torture that was placed on him. Also since he wasn’t an American citizen his request for legal aid in Syria was denied. Maher Arar was released in October. 5, 2003 and the media quickly got a hold of Arar’s story. There were many inquiries and investigation that were issued in this case. Most of the investigation was about looking into the involvement of Canadian and US officials sending an individual under extraordinary rendition, which means the illegal transportation of a person from one nation to another. After all the legal proceeding, what was ultimately concluded was that Maher Arar had no involvement in terrorism. He was cleared of all charges, received compensation of around $11.5 million from the Canadian government, and he received an apology from Canadian government. This topic is significant to the issue of police deviance because the US law enforcement illegally deported a Canadian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured for a year.

The people involved attempted to perform a noble cause for the greater good of the society by protecting their citizen’s from a suspected terrorist (Punch, 2009), but they did it illegally and inappropriate manner. Improper investigation and practice were involved in this case. Due to lack of information they had also contributed to the deportation of Maher Arar. Clearly They broke an International law by deporting Maher Arar to Syria knowingly that they do torture people to retrieve information (Lobel, 2008), especially information in regards to terrorism. During a time when 9/11 and terrorism is still fresh in the minds of the Government and the law enforcement officers, these agencies would do anything to get their hands on this type or lead and information to protect their country.

References

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBWp4iMnHN0

Lobel, Jules. Review of Litigation, Symposium2008, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p479-500, 22p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar

Punch, Maurice. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    A few questions for you:

    First, what were the circumstances that led to Mr. Arar’s repatriation, and to the launching of a public inquiry?

    Second, was this an isolated case? How does it fit into broader trends in ‘high policing’?

    Third, as you note, This cased involved the cooperation of multiple agencies, including Canadian policing and intelligence agencies and foreign agencies. What does this teach us about police accountability? What challenges does it present us with?

  2. dhaliwal23 says:

    For this post, a common link can be made with the ideological combatants that Punch describes in Chapter two of his book, “Police Corruption Deviance, accountability and reform in policing”. He emphasizes that a politically driven cause replaces the fight against means in a “war” for righteous ends against a dangerous enemy that threatens their way of life and values. The Canadian government intervened with the American government and had Maher Arar deported to Syria where he was tortured. The Canadian government then provided Syria with a list of questions to be answered by Arar while being tortured. Officials believed Arar to be involved with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda and thought violating Arar’s rights for a means of a confession was necessary for the benefit of society at large. This is categorized as “Noble cause” corruption by Punch, which is defined as a police officer, or in Arar’s case the RCMP, violating legal, or ethical standards, and Arar’s constitutional rights. In popular culture Dirty Harry came to optimize police work whereby it is viewed as a conflict between good and evil, where the tough or devious methods are deemed appropriate to achieving a result such as an arrest or an confession.

    This brings up the issue whether or not it is justifiable under the Noble cause syndrome to violate a person’s right even if they have perpetrated a crime against the common good?

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