L’affaire Badawi : L’Arabie Saudite sous pression

Jour après jour, le nombre d’organisations internationales qui défendent la libération de Raif Badawi ne cesse de monter.

La semaine passée, le Haut-Commissaire des Nations unies aux droits de l’homme, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a demandé au roi saoudien de suspendre la peine de Badawi. Selon lui, la sanction corporelle appliquée au citoyen de cet État viole la dignité humaine et ne respecte pas la Convention contre la torture.

De son côté, l’Amnistie internationale a lancé récemment la campagne « #jesuisbadawi », à travers laquelle elle exige que les coups de fouet cessent et que Raif soit mis en libéré inconditionnellement. Il faut que l’État saoudien « respecte ses obligations en matière de droits humains et qu’il abolisse la flagellation », argumente l’ONG.

Des manifestations populaires font du bruit.

Selon La Presse Canadienne, un mouvement de protestation est de plus en plus fort à travers le monde. Les ambassades de l’Arabie saoudite font face à des manifestants qui dénoncent le dossier Badawi et la cruauté des peines corporelles.

Blogueur et fondateur du site Free Saudi Liberals, par lequel il défendait la liberté religieuse en Arabie Saoudite, Raif a été condamné en 2012 à 1 000 coups de fouet et 10 années de prison pour insulte à l’islam. Après sa condamnation, sa femme et ses jeunes enfants se sont réfugiés au Canada, vivant depuis lors à Sherbrooke, dans l’est du Québec.

Il est difficile de déterminer si les demandes seront accueillies par les Saoudiens. Au moins, il est clair que la mobilisation vient de remporter une importante victoire : la deuxième séance de flagellation de 50 coups de fouet que le blogueur devait recevoir ce vendredi a été annulée.

Battle for Burnaby Mountain: Part Three (The Protestors)

To read more about the National Energy Board hearings and the City of Burnaby’s legal challenges, read Parts One and Two of this series.

Public protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline have been making news since September, when workers first cut down trees as part of they survey work. Since then protestors have grown in numbers, and the standoff reached an apex in November when Kinder Morgan won an injunction from the BC Supreme Court. The court ordered protestors to stay away, starting on November 16, from certain areas in which Kinder Morgan was conducting survey work or risk being arrested (2014 BCSC 2133). The BCSC found an injunction to be necessary, and relied on the distinction between legitimate protest involving freedom of expression and that of unlawful activity, as set out in MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Simpson ([1996] 2 SCR 1048). The court found that while there would be some harm to the rights of the protestors, Kinder Morgan’s interests as a private member would be more severely and irreparably harmed, given the substantial costs and potential loss of revenue associated with the delays caused by the protests. A more complete analysis of the legal arguments and defenses presented by both sides can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

BCCLA + John Howard Society Take Federal Government to Court Over Solitary Confinement in Prisons

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society are suing the federal government over the use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, describing the practice as “cruel and unusual” in the lawsuit announced Monday morning in Vancouver. Read the rest of this entry »

Battle for Burnaby Mountain: Part Two (National Energy Board and Court Jurisdiction)

See the last blog post for more details about the protracted battle that has been taking place between the National Energy Board and the City of Burnaby.

The City of Burnaby, under the leadership of Mayor Corrigan, has been fighting its own legal battle against Kinder Morgan. Back in November, the National Energy Board ruled that the city bylaws were unenforceable against Kinder Morgan. Since then, the City filed for leave to appeal the NEB decision to the BC Court of Appeal (2014 BCCA 465).  The BCCA refused to grant leave for an appeal on November 27th, finding that the matter should properly be dealt with by the Federal Court of Appeal. In late December, the Federal Court of Appeal also denied the City’s request to appeal the NEB decision, although allegedly no reason for this denial was given. The City of Burnaby’s lawyer, Gregory McDade, Q.C, has been reported as saying “We say that a federally appointed [National Energy Board] has no legal power to strike down [city] bylaws.  It’s never happened in Canadian history.  It’s never happened in Canadian law”. It is unclear whether the City of Burnaby will return to the BC Court of Appeal once again, however it would appear that all legal options have not yet been exhausted.

On January 16th, the City, as an intervener, submitted 200 pages of additional questions to the National Energy Board. In a press release statement, Mayor Corrigan claimed the questions were in response to Kinder Morgan’s 15,000-page proposal, and that they focused on emergency response, environmental impacts, and negative impacts to citizen health and safety. Read the rest of this entry »

Tensions Escalate in the Manus Island Detention Centre

The Manus Island detention centre is an Australian-run offshore processing base for individuals seeking asylum in Australia. Located in Northern Papua New Guinea, the detention centre was created in response to growing numbers of refugee claimants attempting to enter Australia without proper documentation.

In 2013, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea introduced the Regional Resettlement Arrangement — colloquially known as the PNG Solution. The PNG Solution prevented refugee claimants from gaining entry to Australia. Instead, the claimants would be re-settled in Papua New Guinea, provided they were, in fact, genuine refugees. Amnesty International “strongly condemn[ed]” the PNG Solution, and stated that the Australian “Prime Minster has shown his willingness to pay any financial costs to bypass humanitarian obligations.”

Beginning in February 2014, reports surfaced regarding the conditions endured by refugee claimants in the Manus Island detention centre. In response to claims of assault, self-harm, medical issues, and allegations of sexual abuse, combined with the murder of Iranian refugee, Reza Barati, human rights groups demanded an independent investigation by the Australia Federal Police (AFP). The AFP refused, claiming that the Royal Papua New Guinea Police was “the most appropriate law enforcement organisation to investigate the allegation.”

Currently, tensions in the Manus Island detention centre have escalated. Protesting asylum-seekers have barricaded the detention centre, preventing staff from entering. As many as 700 detainees are on a hunger strike, and several individuals have sewn their lips shut.

The refugee claimants are protesting the possibility of being re-located in Papua New Guinea, and claim that their lives would be in danger.

The situation continues to evolve. For a current news release, see here.

Un Brésilien sera exécuté en Indonésie dimanche prochain

L’instructeur de vol brésilien Marco Archer, arrêté en Indonésie depuis 2004 pour trafic de stupéfiants, sera exécuté dimanche prochain, indique l’agence Reuters.

Lors d’un voyage en Asie, Archer a été intercepté par les autorités indonésiennes à l’aéroport international de Jacarta avec de la cocaïne cachée dans son équipement de vol libre. Dans un premier moment, il a réussi à y échapper, mais il a été finalement capturé deux semaines plus tard.

Dès la condamnation de l’instructeur, le gouvernement brésilien a fait des efforts dans le sens de revêtir l’application de la peine capitale. L’ancien président Lula et l’actuelle présidente, Dilma Roussef, ont déposé des demandes de clémence auprès des autorités du pays asiatique, en indiquant qu’au Brésil la peine de mort a été abolie au XIXe siècle. Vendredi cependant, au cours d’une conversation téléphonique, le président Widodo a communiqué à sa consœur brésilienne qu’Archer sera exécuté dimanche prochain.

Selon le quotidien O’Globo, la chancellerie brésilienne étudie des mesures pour sanctionner l’Indonésie.

Cela sera la première fois qu’un Brésilien est exécuté à l’étranger.

Western Australia corrections minister dismisses jail overcrowding claims

Western Australia’s corrections minister, Joe Francis, has described claims that its prisons are overcrowded as disingenuous. In addition, he has rebuffed the inspector of custodial service’s suggestion for an underused selective men’s prison to be used to alleviate overcrowding in women’s jails. Inspector Neil Morgan said the 80-bed facility, which is only half-full, remained “severely underutilised” while other prisons, namely Bandyup and Hakea remand prison, were overcrowded.

Francis in response has said that the underused prison in question, Wandoo correctional facility, would not be used to ease jail overcrowding, because that would “contaminate” a program running at the jail. Francis told reporters in Perth last Thursday he would not jeopardise Wandoo’s success. Prisoners at Wandoo are selected based on their perceived chances of rehabilitation and the need to shelter them from “hard-core offenders”. He also called the idea to use Wandoo to house women housed at Perth’s Bandyup women’s prison as “one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard”, saying it did not offer enough beds to ease the pressure.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jury Selected for Couple Charged with Plotting to Blow Up British Columbia Legislature

John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested in July 2013 for allegedly planting pressure-cooker explosive devices on the premises of the provincial legislature in Victoria, B.C. on Canada Day. The pair was charged with knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity, making or possessing an explosive device, conspiracy to place an explosive device with the intent to cause death or injury, and conspiracy to murder persons unknown. On Tuesday, they both plead not guilty.

Shortly after the pleas were entered, jury selection for the highly publicized trial began. More than 300 potential jurors were present for the scheduled first day of jury selection at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Jury selection took place in courtroom 20, an enhanced-security courtroom built for the Air India trial and often used for high-profile B.C. cases. By the end of the day, all 14 jurors (7 women and 7 men) had been selected.

In a surprising move, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce issued a publication ban on many details of the proceedings, including much of the jury selection process.

The trial is scheduled to begin February 2 and is anticipated to continue for 18 weeks.

Read more here.

 

Upcoming Legislation Puts Privacy at Risk

A handful of bills with significant ramifications for Canadians’ privacy rights are making their way through Parliament.

Bill C-13

Bill C-13, dubbed the “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act” but known colloquially as the Cyberbullying Bill, will expand police powers by allowing them to collect electronic metadata in the same way they can monitor a phone line.  Critics of the measure argue that far more information can be gathered from metadata than from a phone.  Many of the provisions of Bill C-13 were originally tabled in Bill C-30 Read the rest of this entry »

The Right to Vote as an Expatriate

House Bill c-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, seeks to restrict voting rules for Canadians who are living abroad. The bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on December 10th 2014. Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of State (Democratic Reform) tabled the Bill.

Read the rest of this entry »

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