(Ottawa, Canada - April 22, 2008) - In an
open letter, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) in
partnership with the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), Canadian Islamic Congress
(CIC), Federation of Muslim Women (FMW), Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada,
Islamic Circle of North America Canada (ICNA Canada), Islamic Society of North
America Canada (ISNA Canada) and Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), along with
an additional 11 organizations, today asked authorities to consider reasonable
bail terms and re-examine the use of solitary confinement for the "Toronto
In the letter the 19 organizations wrote:
Subject: Authorities asked to consider
reasonable bail terms and re-examine solitary confinement for 'Toronto 11'
April 22, 2008
During the week of April 14, 2008,
charges against four more of the "Toronto 18" were stayed. Along with
the three men who were previously released, the case of the "Toronto
18" has now been whittled down to the "Toronto 11."
As representatives of Canada's Muslim
communities, we are committed to Canada's security, while also ensuring that
due process and civil liberties are respected. Thus, in consideration of the
public knowledge we have of the cases, and the impact the proceedings have had
on the accused and their families, we are requesting an end to solitary
confinement and that their right to reasonable bail be seriously considered.
Citizens of conscience, including
Canada's Muslims, are deeply concerned about the status of each of the
remaining 11 men still facing trial. It appears that our government,
intelligence and law enforcement agencies have cast an extremely "wide
net" in their quest to catch criminals and terrorists in the wake of the
Sept. 11 tragedies. As a direct result, innocent persons continue to be
harassed, interrogated, detained, arrested and incarcerated. The reputations of
many have been smeared and lives reduced to tatters.
This phenomenon has been exemplified in
the cases of Maher Arar and Project Thread. The Arar case, as citizens are
aware, resulted in a public inquiry and Mr. Arar's complete exoneration. In the
less well-known Project Thread case, 24 South Asian men were wrongly labelled
as terrorists. They had their lives turned upside down. Ultimately, despite the
media circus, no terror related or criminal charges were even laid. Most were
deported on minor immigration offences.
It is now clear that the lives of seven
more men and boys and their families have been irreparably harmed. Initially
assumed to be part of the "Toronto 18" plot, some of these men and
boys have, as a result, spent nearly two years of their lives in jail. The
majority were held in solitary confinement for 23� hours a day. They have now
been released and charges against them stayed.
Balancing the pursuit of law, order,
peace and security with the protection of individual human rights and civil
liberties is a difficult task, especially when the balancing process involves
individuals who may be unpopular. Are we, as a society, prepared to suspend
basic rights, such as freedom of association and the presumption of innocence,
in the name of anti-terrorism?
Ten of the initial "Toronto 18"
remain incarcerated pending trial. Three men continue to be held in solitary
confinement. Extreme isolation, conditions more severe than the majority of
Canada 's convicted murderers and rapists are subject to, is hardly appropriate
for persons who have not been found guilty by our justice system. Perhaps it is
time that the use of solitary confinement in the case of the Toronto 11 be
re-evaluated, especially given its extensive use in the cases of the seven who
were recently released.
Like any other individual who is subject
to the operation of the law, each of the remaining accused have the right to be
granted reasonable bail terms, as the court deems appropriate. This Charter
right should be seriously considered, especially if strong sureties are
provided to ensure that bail conditions will be fully respected.
It is in this spirit that we respectfully
submit that the rights of the remaining accused be given every consideration
and protection under the law. We respectfully request that the use of solitary
confinement for the Toronto 11 be re-evaluated. Finally, having regard to all
of the circumstances, we respectfully ask that their requests for bail be given
the fullest consideration.
Director of Community Relations
Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations
On behalf of:
Canadian Arab Federation (CAF)
Contact: Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Director of Community
Relations, 613-853-4111 or 613-254-9704.
Canadian Coalition for Peace and Justice
Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN)
Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC)
Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association (CMCLA)
Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF)
Federation of Muslim Women (FMW)
Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada
Islamic Circle of North America Canada (ICNA Canada )
Islamic Society of North America Canada (ISNA Canada )
Islamic Society of Toronto
Muslim Community Council of Ottawa-Gatineau (MCCOG)
Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM)
Muslim Association of Canada (MAC)
Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA)
Salaheddin Islamic Centre
South-Western Ontario Muslim Students' Association
Young Muslims Canada