United Nations Criticizes Bill C-51

Many Canadians were frustrated by the passing of Bill C-51 also known as the Anti-terrorism Act when it first became public; this concern has now made its way to the United Nations.

After the United Nations (UN) reviewed the Anti-terrorism Act, it too had some concerns regarding human right violations. The UN Human Rights Committee has urged the Canadian government to reform the anti-terrorism act which came into effect last month. The UN Human Rights committee has concerns regarding the violation of Canadian fundamental rights. Below are just a few of the concerns the UN voiced to the Canadian government.

The UN Human Rights committee spoke against how security certificates that allow government officials to detain and remove individuals may lead to unlawful deportations. Although the government would use legal means to deport an individual, the UN Human Rights Committee is concerned that the government may exploit this power in an unlawful manner.

Secondly, the committee suggested that legal safeguards should be put in place to avoid right abuses. The committee also encouraged the government to employ judicial involvement in matters pertaining to the authorization of surveillance measures. The UN Human Rights committee also encouraged effective and adequate oversight mechanisms for security and intelligence agencies. Finally the UN encouraged the government to also consider using judicial involvement when determining if someone should be placed on a no-fly list. Furthermore, the committee suggested that the government should inform individuals placed on the no-fly list to allow them a chance to challenge the decision.

Although the UN Human Rights Committee has made these suggestions and voiced their concerns, their decisions are not binding. The Canadian government can consider the suggestions and take action as they wish. The Canadian government has suggested that they are protecting the rights of individuals and will continue to do so when applying the Anti-terrorism Act.

Currently, in the domestic sphere, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression have launched an action against Bill C-51. This domestic case is supported by numerous Bill C-51 critics who believe the legislation is ineffective and unnecessary

Supporters of Bill C-51 argue that the government should do whatever is required to ensure Canadians are safe and protected from terrorist attacks. Furthermore, supporters argue that they have nothing to hide and believe they will not be impacted by the government’s stricter laws and new mechanisms to combat terrorism.

Points of discussion:

1. What are your thoughts on the UN intervention in domestic matters?

2. Do you have any concerns regarding Bill C-51?

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