Archive for the ‘The Arar Affair / O’Connor Commission’ Category

Police organization both on the Canadian and United States end faced plenty of public shame because of the deportation and torture of Maher Arar. Maher Arar was deported to Syria to be tortured in which United States officials tried receive answer to his allege ties to al-Qaeda. What these officials concluded was Maher had no ties to the terrorist group and he received a large compensation for the time he was tortured. But to this day he is still under the United States watch list (Lobel, 2008). This situation have made people in Canada worried in which it may happen to them (rapley, 2007). It has led many to judge the authorities because of this devious act. Faith in the way the  police carry themselves is diminishing, because police deviance and corruption has been a growing concern with much more videos and pictures of police brutality (Click on this link to see a list of videos of police brutality) being showed through the media and social networks.

This topic is related to police deviance and accountability through what Maurice Punch (2009) stated called noble cause corruption. Noble Cause corruption is defined as concept of officers’ acting illegally, not for personal gain, but to fulfill moral obligations, stands as a testimony to the difficulties encountered by those entrusted with the public’s safety (Harrison, 1999). Canadian authorities and United States authorities acted on false information that stated Maher Arar was a suspected terrorist (Lobel, 2008), and these authorities were protecting their citizens from a possible threat. Aside from taking care of the well being of their countries, these authorities have come under fire as to why the Maher Arar situation was handled the way it did. Authorities cut corners in the investigation which led them to be able to detain a Canadian citizen in Maher Arar. The United States authorities did not deport Arar back to Canada, instead deport him to Syria where they practice torture. Also United States and the Syrian authorities worked together to allow Maher Arar to be tortured for one year (Lobel, 2008). Maher Arar was denied access to speak to a lawyer. And he was not allowed to be seen by a lawyer for the time he was in Syria. While in the United States Arar was denied the right speak to a lawyer as well.

Process corruption also would be regarded to the Arar case about police deviance. Process corruption and noble cause corruption can linked together in police deviance (Punch, 2009). In article Witch Hunts: From Salem To Guantanamo Bay process of  investigation, detention, and incarceration of Maher Arar was corrupt. It was reported that Maher Arar was constantly denied to speak to anyone from Canada. Many time he ask to speak to his family member and lawyers but was not allowed to at the expense of the United States authorities. Same thing happened to him while incarcerated in Syria. Upon his release Maher Arar was denied a public inquiry from the Canadian Government. The process of this case was also corrupt because under international agreement, it was stated that the Canadian authorities should have been informed of Maher Arar being detained because he is Canadian citizen (Rapley, 2007). United states failed to inform the Canadian authorities of Maher arar being detained. The United States officials did not have sufficient evidence to go and detain and deport Maher Arar (Lobel, 2009).

With the added attention to national security and war on terror, around the same time Maher Arar was first pulled aside have the officials on both side acting base d on a term noted in Police corruption: Deviance, Accountability, and reform in policing by Maurice Punch (2009) as being seen as “high policing”. The term high policing are noted in this text as absorbent policing it controlled by intelligence gathering. Intelligence gathering is one of the principles of high policing. With the information that was shared among both US and Canadian officials, it was poorly reviewed and therefore  erroneous as they decided on deporting Maher Arar to Syria (Larsen, 2006).

There are a stack of books that invesigated The Arar Affair, and these books are The O’Conner Commission. The inquiry that Maher Arar reluctantly wanted; it showcased many problems of high policing and police deviance in this case and cleared Maher Arar from any wrong doings that occured. The highlights of this inquiry noted that Maher Arar was in no way connected to any terrorist groups which he was first accused of. In Addition to this inquiry Arar and his attorney were both mislead and mistreated because they were mislead and lied to during the detainment and deportation.  A complaint to the former US Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that Arar due process rights  was violated under the fifth amendment due to him being deported, imprisoned, and tortured (Lobel, 2008) and that both the US Government and Syrian work together as a team during their investigations.

Since Arar was never charged with his allege ties to terrorism, he demanded answer as to why he was detain and deported. After being released on October 5 2003 Maher Arar demanded that a public inquiry be issued. Public inquiry in Canada is formal process to be instituted by the government, it requires one or more commissioner and it entails the right to subpoenas witnesses (Rapley, 2007). But the Canadian government denied his request for one. After going back and forth with the government Arar was able to obtain an inquiry, but only on the RCMP, and it was stated that the inquiry was not public (Rapley, 2007). His persistence to prove his innocence, he eventually received a inquiry (O’Conner Commission) only into the RCMP in what led people to believe the government had to much to hide in this case.

The Maher Arar case showcase a transformation of the all ready existent policy called rendition, which was a criminal law technique now transformed into a preventative tactic after 9/11 (Lobel, 2008). During the Bush administration, kidnapping was a method used to extradite fugitives that were accused of a crime. Rendition was illegal under the international law but it was used to being terrorist or suspects of terrorism to the United States or other countries. The bush administration remade rendition so that an individual can be brought to trail to gather information about future terrorist plan, through a means of coercive interrogation. Maher Arar was an example of this exact tactic.


Rapley, R. (2007). Witch Hunts: From Salem to Guantanamo Bay. Montreal: Mcgill-Queen’s University Press

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

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin; Aug99, Vol. 68 Issue 8, p1, 7p, 2 Black and White Photographs, 1 Diagram

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

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.


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

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

The role of the RCMP accountability, oversight and complaints mechanisms and complaint mechanisms is defined mostly through different commissions, legislation and the public arena.  Another important aspect could be how information about them is distributed, in particular, in generic web-site searches.

In the beginning of the RCMP, they were responsible for most policing matters.  Over the decades its involvement in security and other powers escalated onto the national level.  The Mcdonald Comission reported their findings about their hearings on police deviance in 1979 and 1981.  Its last recommendation was particular poignant because it was actually enact with the creation of Canadian Security Intelligence Service three years later.  In 1985, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was enacted it held that CSIS would be held accountable.  “To maintain an appropriate degree of ministerial responsibility” (Policing and Communities Safety Branch).  But the Inspector General, who the reports are forwarded to, does not deal with public complaints.  And, like the vast majority of commissions can not convene public hearings or make binding recommendations.  The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (Commission) was created in 1988, and they are an independent civilian agency.  They can investigate public complaints but again have limited authority to investigate and they cannot conduct a public interest hearing.  Previous chairs harken for better system of balance.  The Office of the Communication Security Establishment commissioner, established in June of 1996, had the authority to investigate complaints but like the commission have extremely limited authority.  This office cannot make binding recommendations.  The Anti-Terrorism Act effectively reversed the some of the legislation put forth by the Mcdonald commission by allowing the RCMP to become more involved in security measures by defining the act of terrorism as criminal.  And thus with in the realm of the police because CSIS cannot purse criminal cases, they may only gather information (Raaflaub, Tim).

In regards to the public arena, a fairly recent case stands at the forefront.  The Arar Affair follows a Syrian born but Canadian citizen, who though information leaked by the RCMP to the American government was detained then transported to Syria where he was tortured for information about his alleged terrorist activities for over ten months.  Mr. Arar, was never found to be associated with terrorism in any respect and was released back to Canada.  The O’Connor Comission, convened two years after the incident, found that the RCMP was indeed guilty of causing the above incident (Larsen, Mike).  And recommended an independent inquiries.  In association, Juliet O’Neil, a journalist, was said to have allegations about the Arar incident.  Search warrants were served and her place of residence was search along with various pieces of property.  When she went to court, the presiding judge ordered the immediate release of Miss. O’Neil’s property and dismissed the charges.  The crown has yet to refile. 

A simple web search shows unpromising results.  The results are filled with buzz words such as Right to Know and Civilian.  But the web pages display how they came to be, not what they are involved in now.  Government posts declare new commission or inquiry staffed by the public but hesitate to add its limitations of power, in that anything it suggests can be easily discarded.  As the search progresses, the results are flooded with why the public thinks that these commissions are necessary; excessive force, tasers, anger at unheard accusations, news casts filled with sensationalism of out of control policing agencies, assaults on the public by inebriate off-duty officers and general discordance.  perusing the Commission complaint form what is evident is that most of the form is taken up by information about the complainant, only a few boxes to describe the confrontation, resulting injuries and witnesses.  

In conclusion, the RCMP has several public inquiries and commissions but they lack to the power to make a difference with the RCMP lobbying for their previous power before the Mcdonald Commission.  Until more power is given to these popularly created commissions the entire process of complaints will not effect the RCMP in any significant way.  With the RCMP still only beginning judged by its peers of the occupation, who are more then willing to plead down their misconduct/deviance to policy infractions and not criminal charges.


Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.  (2010)  Significant Progress Made on the Complaint Commission’s Public Interest Investigation itno the RCMP into the RCMP’s Involvement in the G8/G20 Summits.  Retreived from: September 20, 2011.

Cook, Karen.  (2011) Abbott Commits to Increasing Police Accountability and Oversight.  Scribd.  Reterived from: September 24, 2011.

Larsen, Mike.  (2010) New RCMP Public Complaints Commission Legislation Tabled.  Prism.  Retervied from: September 27, 2011.

Policing and Community Safety Branch.  Civilian Oversight of Policing.  Retervied from: September 25, 2011.

Raaflaub, Tim Riordan. (2006)  Civilian Oversight of the RCMP’s National Securtiy Functions.  Parliament of Canada. Retreived from: September 27, 2011.