Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Persecution by Proxy

“Persecution by Proxy: Canada’s Extradition Act and the case of Hassan Diab”
By Matthew Behrens
Briarpatch Magazine, January 1, 2012

Were Diab to be tried in Canada, the case would be laughed out of court. But an extradition hearing is not a trial. Rather, it is an exercise in maintaining cordial relations with a foreign government. Once the Justice minister sets the process in motion, an individual is arrested and faces an extradition hearing that many critics view as a rubber stamp. An individual seeking to present evidence of innocence is normally halted by a judge who says that all those issues can be sorted out “over there,” where it is presumed a fair trial will ensue…

And so Diab, like many before him, suffers the double-barrelled wound of a process under which the standards to commit someone to extradition are painfully low and an ultimate decision that is more political than legal. While the Justice minister considers whether to proceed in the beginning and also receives submissions towards the end of the process – in essence, having the rarely exercised opportunity to reject the initial decision – the Supreme Court of Canada has noted the minister must ultimately determine the extent to which the feathers of a foreign power will be ruffled if the extradition is rejected. While the minister can refuse based on grounds that the surrender would be unjust, oppressive or motivated by political or racial persecution, such a decision is extremely rare, given the political ramifications…

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