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- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 12 Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 5
- “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
- Geneva Conventions (1949) Article 99, Third Convention
- “no moral or physical coercion may be exerted on a prisoner of war in order to admit himself guilty of the act of which he is accused “
- UN Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners (1957), Rule 31
- “Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhumane or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited…”
- UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1975)
- “No State may permit or tolerate torture…Exceptional circumstances such as a state of war …or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or other cruel inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW
- Torture law is such that it is applicable even to nations that have not signed or ratified conventions- special status in international law
- No. Article 2(2) of the Convention states that: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.“
- The prohibition on torture is also a ”peremptory norm,” which means that it cannot be overruled by any other law or by local custom. For example, if local religious groups believe in torture as a natural punishment, still illegal.
MAHER ARAR IMPORTANT CASE
- Maher Arar was a dual Canadian-Syrian citizen who lived in Ottawa with his wife and kids
- Detained at the Kennedy Airport in 2002 for questioning. Questioned for hours on alleged Al-Quada links, then ‘disappeared’
- Revealed to have been deported to Syria by the American government where he was held in prison there for over a year, while being regularly interrogated and tortured for information (U.S. knew they used torture).
- Released after eventual public outcry back to Canada, after no terrorist links were discovered
- Canadians ordered commission of inquiry that ended with a 10 million dollar compensation paid to Arar and the resignation of the head of the RCMP
- Current lawsuit pending against US government looking for compensation and an acknowledgment that they violated constitutional and human rights.