Restrain: Limiting Threats

AuthorCraig Forcese; Kent Roach
Restrain: Limiting Threats
Egyptian nat ional Mohammed Zeki Ma hjoub came to Canada from Sudan
in December . Upon arrival, he immediately applied for asylum. In Oc-
tober , the refugee board declared him a refu gee. ereafter, he married
a Canadian citizen and started a family.
In June , he was detained under an immigration “security certi-
cate.” at instrument declared Mahjoub inadmissible for security reasons.
Documents summarizing the government’s position alleged that Mahjoub
was a senior member in the militant wing of the Eg yptian Islamic Jihad.
is group splintered from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in order to pursue
a more violent path to an Islamic Egyptian state. In , Egyptian courts
convicted Mahjoub in absentia for his role in the group.
e Canadian secu rity certicate process was (and remains) secretive,
and persons in Mahjoub’s circumstances were not (and are not) fully apprised
of the evidence and the case ag ainst them. But the Federal Court armed
the government’s security certicate in October . ereafter, Mahjoub’s
actual removal quickly become mired in questions about whether he could
be removed to Egypt, where he might be subjected to torture. e resulting
delays were protracted. Mahjoub remained in custody, rst at the Toronto
West Detention Centre and then at the special Kingston Immigrat ion Hold-
ing Centre. His imprisonment lasted until Februar y  — a total of six
and a half years — at wh ich point a Federal Court judge concluded he would
not be removed from Canada in a reasonable time and the risk to security he
might pose could be contained by conditions on his release.
At around the same time, the Supreme Court
decided a constitution-
al challenge brought by three other security certicate “named persons” in
similar c ases. In this rst of a series of modern security certi cate decisions,
the Court invalidated t he secretive process and held that the Charter required
better eorts to square fair trials with secrec y preoccupations. At the same
time, the Court also indicated that alternatives to full-time detention, such
as release on strict conditions (which was used in t wo of the cases), were still
“less severe than incarceration” even though they also “severely limit[ed] lib-
er t y.” All ve men subjected to security certicates were eventually relea sed
on strict conditions.
In , Parliament enacted a new securit y certicate system incorporat-
ing standards responsive to the Supreme Court’s holding. And in February
, the government issued a second security certicate against Ma hjoub
under the new process. During this second proceeding, Mahjoub remained
free, but under very stringent conditions. His family a nd friends acted as
sureties, posting performa nce bonds, and he was restrained by a list of con-
ditions on his movement, conduct, use of communications devices, and a
willingness to co-operate in surveillance.
But in March , Mahjoub chose to return to prison, telling the cour t
that “he and his family could no longer live with the stringent conditions of
his release.” He rst voiced this intent reportedly “after federal a gents’ policy
of ‘eyes-on’ surveillance led them to follow Mr. Mahjoub into a closed hospi-
tal room, while his wife wa s having a miscarriage.” Reincarcerated for several
months, Mahjoub began a hunger strike. In November , he was relea sed
under court-imposed conditions less stringent than the origina l limitations.
e revised conditions still ran to several pages and f ty-ve paragraphs.
After assorted other legal challenges, in  the Federal Court ruled
that the security cer ticate was reasonable, and concluded that Mahjoub was
inadmissible to Canada on grounds of security. He has now appealed this
holding and a series of earlier constitutional matters in h is case. rough-
out these protracted legal disputes (there are over thirty reported decisions
in Mahjoub’s case), he has remained subject to the November  release
conditions, as modied. In total, he has been subjected to either detention
or strict conditions on release for over fteen years. His appea ls will consume
still more time, as wil l any subsequent adjudication of whether he can actual-
ly be removed to possible abuse in Egypt.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT