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Message from the Founder...

InCAT Team
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International Committee Against Torture (InCAT.org), headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is a widely ambitious, non-governmental organization aiming at providing legal aid for victims of torture, and at pursuing justice in a court of law by holding the perpetrators and violating states responsible for their actions.

(NEW) "Zero tolerance on torture

Alex Neve, National Post: Dec. 7, 2011

Canada abhors torture. We support all efforts to abolish it and to punish torturers. We insist that our policing and security agencies have nothing to do with it. That's Canada 's public line. Yet every time we seem to reaffirm these fundamental principles, a loophole always presents itself involving the words "national security."

The most recent disturbing example involves a 2008 memo from former CSIS director James Judd to then-minister of public safety Stockwell Day that has just come to light. In that document, Mr. Judd objected to a law-reform initiative spearheaded at the time by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh. As part of a court-ordered overhaul of the immigration security-certificate process, Mr. Dosanjh had proposed a measure to keep evidence that might have been the result of torture out of security-certificate proceedings. The amendment passed, clarifying the principle that when there are reasonable grounds to believe that information had been obtained by torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, it cannot be used ... READ FULL ARTICLE

"The human rights revolution that started after — and because of — WWII, seems to have too few disciples in the countries that need it most.” READ FULL SPEECH

Rosalie Silberman Abella, Supreme Court of Canada Justice
Toronto, February 9th 2011



:: click here to view article on Lawyers Weekly ::
:: click here to view article on The Epoch Times ::

An inversion of law and morality

Irwin Cotler, National Post - May 13, 2010

Torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are perhaps the most heinous acts known to humankind. The horror suffered by the victims of these international crimes and their families is unspeakable.

Free and democratic societies such as Canada have a responsibility to these victims. While our law may criminalize these atrocities, it fails to provide victims a right of redress against their criminal perpetrators. Indeed, our law shamefully favours the perpetrators of such evil over the Canadians who are its victims.

The Canadian State Immunity Act is the mechanism of this injustice. It "protects" foreign states from civil suits by Canadians. While Parliament has deemed it worthwhile to make an exception for commercial activity, it has not legislated an exception for egregious crimes such as torture. Simply put, the act protects the businessperson who has been the victim of a commercial wrong but provides no redress for victims of international atrocities. It is time to rectify this inversion of rights and remedy -- this inversion of law and morality.

That is why I have tabled a private member's bill (Bill C-483) to remedy this failure of justice and accountability in Canadian law. It will remove the state immunity that currently shields the states and officials that perpetrate these horrific crimes, allowing Canadian victims to secure justice.
The case of Zahra Kazemi --the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist whose brutal death in Iran shocked Canadians --highlights the importance of this legislation. Ms. Kazemi, a Canadian citizen, was tortured and raped in the infamous Evin prison in Iran and eventually died as a result of her injuries. Her son recently instituted a lawsuit in Montreal against Iran and its officials, seeking justice in Canadian courts after such justice was denied through prejudicial and flawed "investigations" in Iran. The government of Iran maintains -- as it successfully did in the somewhat similar Bouzari torture case in Ontario -- that the lawsuit should be dismissed because of Iranian state immunity under Canadian law. The result is Canada acquiescing in Iranian impunity.

After Bouzari was decided, it was argued that Canada had fallen short of its international obligations in addition to its moral ones. As a state party to the Convention Against Torture, Canada had undertaken to ensure that there is adequate redress available to victims of torture. Thus, the United Nations Committee Against Torture, which monitors the treaty's implementation, criticized Canada for its failure to live up to this standard upon learning of the result in Bouzari.

The limited exception to state immunity proposed by my legislation will ensure that justice is done without turning Canada's courts into a magnet for international human rights lawsuits. The bill requires that victims have a "real and substantial connection to Canada"; it precludes a civil suit if there is a more appropriate forum; and, in particular, it protects countries with fair and impartial justice systems from frivolous and vexatious lawsuits by requiring that victims invoke and exhaust all domestic remedies in these rule-of-law countries before filing lawsuits in Canada. This allows Canada to respect its international relationships and defer to the judicial systems of states that provide justice to victims. Only where justice would otherwise be denied does this legislation refuse state immunity.

This is not a partisan issue. All parties should share the premise that oppressive foreign states should not be favoured over victimized Canadians. Accordingly, my bill has been supported by members from all parties, as well as an array of leading human rights NGOs and legal experts, including the Canadian Centre for International Justice.

With Bill C-483 now introduced in Parliament, I invite the Conservative government to support this legislation--indeed, to take it over as its own --and to enact it into law.

-Irwin Cotler is special counsel on human rights and international justice to the Liberal party and is the MP for Mount Royal. He is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada and is a professor of law (on leave) at McGill University.

Liberal Irony

National Post Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Re: An Inversion Of Law And Morality, Irwin Cotler, May 13.


MP Irwin Cotler accurately and passionately expressed his well-founded concerns that the Canadian State Immunity Act works a terrible injustice by prohibiting legal claims brought in Canada by victims of torture against countries who torture while permitting lawsuits that arise from commercial misadventures.

Mr. Cotler then described my lawsuit in Canada against Iran that alleged that I was tortured in the same Evin Prison in Tehran where Zahara Kazemi was so horribly tortured and murdered.
My suit went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, only to fall on the sword of state immunity.

I applaud Mr. Cotler's efforts to have the State Immunity Act amended. Torture victims who make their way to Canada must be permitted access to Canadian courts because they cannot return to the torturing country and would never be permitted access to justice there regardless.

But permit me one important correction to Mr. Cotler's column. He stated: "The government of Iran maintains -- as it successfully did in the somewhat similar Bouzari torture case in Ontario -- that the lawsuit should be dismissed because of Iranian state immunity under Canadian law."

The facts are that in my case Iran did not appear to defend my torture claim. It was the government of Canada that intervened to oppose me. It was Canada that argued the State Immunity Act prohibition that Iran would have submitted had it appeared. The Liberal party was the government at that time, with Martin Cauchcon the 46th minister of justice at the time my case was initially heard in Ontario superior court.

Later on, when the Ontario court of appeal heard my motion for appeal and eventually dismissed it (Dec. 3 and 4, 2003, and June 30, 2004, respectively), Mr. Cotler was Canada's 47th minister of justice.

What irony!

Houshang Bouzari, co-founder, International Coalition Against Torture, Toronto.

INCAT PRESS RELEASE, September 1st, 2007

Her Excellency Louise Arbour, The High Commissioner for Human Rights

In regards to your upcoming trip to Iran to gain a firsthand perspective of the Human Rights situation there, we the Iranian Human Rights activists Groups of the European Union EU and of North America (IHRAG) and the Canadian based International Coalition Against Torture (InCAT) would like to draw your attention to the widespread, planned and systematic violation of Human Rights in Iran, during the first 8 months of 2007.
:: click here to view Press Release::

InCAT Submissions to the Arar Commission
By: David Matas with the assistance of Sukanya Pillay)
| :: click here to view submission ::


INCAT Press Release June 14, 2006

Seeking Global Justice (updated version)
Remarks to the federal Liberal caucus immigration roundtable
Regina, Saskatchewan, August 23, 2005

By: David Matas | :: click here to view article ::

Seeking Global Justice
Keynote speech to a conference on Counteracting Hate, Torture and Crimes against Humanity Victims, Vancouver B.C. July 17, 2005
By: David Matas | :: click here to view article ::

:: click here to view article ::

New Hope for Victims of Torture - Globe and Mail
By: David Matas | :: click here to view article ::

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

By: CAT/C/CO/34/CAN Committee against Torture 34th session | :: click here to view article ::

Bringing Kazemi's killers to justice - National Post - Thursday April 28 2005
By: David Matas | :: click here to view article ::

Press Release :: Canada charged with violating UN Torture Convention ::

The International Coalition against Torture (InCAT) will present on Tuesday May 3rd in Geneva a submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture that Canada is violating the Convention against Torture for denying to torture victims in Canada the ability to sue in Canadian courts the states that have tortured them. The submission will be made by David Matas and Houshang Bouzari. The Convention against Torture requires Canada to "ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation".

For further information contact David Matas by telephone at 204-944-1831, or 011-41-22-989-9000 or, by email at David Matas at dmatas@mts.net and Houshang Bouzari or 011-41-22-989-9000.

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©2003-2005 International Coalition Against Torture (InCAT.org)