Taking Responsibility for Torture: How their irresponsibility makes us all pay

Al Malki, a Canadian, was incarcerated and tortured in Syria based on false information which was provided to the Syrian governement by the RCMP and CSIS.

August 15, 2011 – Abdullah Al Malki is a family man with a life story to tell, and based on this country’s present global reputation as indicated by Canada’s UN Security Council nomination fiasco, now more than ever is when all Canadians should be listening.

Abdullah Al Malki

“…when the Canadian Government and security forces refer to protecting ‘national security’ what they are actually talking about is protecting their own job security”

Al Malki, a Canadian citizen and graduate of Carleton University, was incarcerated and tortured in Syria based on false and misleading information that the RCMP and CSIS – which went so far as to mislabel Al Malki as “an imminent threat” in official correspondence – provided to the Syrian government. Dark days indeed.

Mr. Al Malki recently concluded a 4-stop speaking tour at Quebec CEGEPS and will continue to bring the message of his experience to young Canadians, those just upon the threshold of university, who will hopefully be the next generation to raise and restore Canada’s moral and ethical standing in the world.

During an engagement at Dawson College in Montreal, the 60 or so young Canadians in the classroom-setting were hanging on Mr. Al Malki’s every word, especially when he provided the no-holds-barred details of his physical torture. It was especially interesting to note that the talk was occurring on the same night as the most recent Canadian Election leader’s debate – but young Canadians, turned off by the ineffectiveness of political rhetoric, clearly showed their priorities.

“Governments and elections change the parties but these are the issues of justice that affect us all,” said one student in attendance. “Whoever wins the election will still have to deal with this issue.”

Canada’s reputation in cases like those of Abdullah Al Malki, Maher Arar and far too many others is internationally established. Robert Fisk once summed up Abdullah’s situation and Canada’s complicity like this: “Snooped on by the Canadian secret service and then tortured in Syria while the Canadian authorities did nothing for him – save supplying his perverted torturers with questions. Western nations simply assisted the perverts by providing them with pages of questions while their citizens/residents lay in agony, wishing they had never been born”.

More than three years after Canadian government inquiries have identified the mistakes and sloppiness of Canada’s security forces in their treatment of Abdullah and other Canadian citizens, there still have been no corrections made to procedure, no apologies to the individuals like Abdullah who have been victimized by their own country, and the misleading information about these individuals is still circulating within the “intelligence” community even though it has been three years since it was identified as false.

Mr. Al Malki was held prisoner in a Syrian dungeon for 482 days, while the Canadian embassy to Syria and the diplomatic corps never even requested access or a consular visit. In fact, during 2008, the Canadian Department of Justice, in anticipation of the Iacobucci Commission and the O’Connor Report finding against the government and its security affiliates issued this statement:

“Canada bares no responsibility for the torture, even through complicity, if the torture takes place outside of Canadian borders.”

Guess what? Both the Iacobucci Commission and the O’Connor Report found Canada to be complicit in the torture of Canadian citizen Al Malki in Syria, but thanks to the Department of Justice predefinition of complicity versus responsibility before the findings against CSIS and the RCMP, no Canadian official to this day has been held accountable or even apologized for complicity in the torture of Abdullah Al Malki.

Probably the saddest thing for Canadians in general is the testimony of several witnesses representing the RCMP and CSIS, who at various commissions between 2002 and 2008 testified “it was not the responsibility of intelligence or law enforcement officials to be concerned about the Human Rights of a Canadian detainee.” Huh? What? Isn’t that the very basis of their jobs?

There’s more – and sadly it justifies the world’s and young Canadians’ lack of good faith in the RCMP and CSIS when it comes to security certificates and surveillance. On October 2, 2001 the RCMP issued an open memorandum to intelligence agencies throughout the world which labeled Mr. Al Malki as “an imminent threat” to Canada, conjuring up images and associations of suicide bombers.

On the very same day the RCMP issued their worldwide security warning concerning Mr. Al Malki, an internal RCMP memo was issued and circulated revealing that the Mounties had nothing on Mr. Al Malki except that he is an “Arab running around.”

These are perhaps the double-standards and selective information releases that have led so many young Canadians to lose their faith in the Canadian government and its “intelligence” agencies. One young person asked Mr. Al Malki how he could not hate Canada after what they had done to him – Abdullah replied that one of the most important life lessons he has learned is to be able to differentiate between the governments, their actions and the people. Mr. Al Malki answered that the actions of the Canadian government, the RCMP and CSIS were a disgrace, but he could not hate Canada because the people of this country have given him nothing but their support.

Hopefully, this country will see a day when Canadian people supportive of justice and fairplay will get their chance to represent themselves through the government. The young Canadians are ready.



Tariq Jeeroburkhan is an independent content provider based in Montreal who can be reached at tjeero@hotmail.com . His blog is www.jeeroburkhan.wordpress.com