The Case of Maher Arar :FIDH signed an amicus brief to the attention of the U.S. Second District Court in the appeal filed against the rendition of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen defended by lawyers of the Center for Constitutional Rights

05/01/2007
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The brief states that the United States are bound by international customary law providing for an absolute prohibition of torture in all circumstances

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was detained during a layover at J.F.K. Airport in September 2002 on his way home to Canada. He was held in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks before he was labeled by the Bush administration as a member of Al Qaeda, and rendered to Syrian intelligence authorities renowned for torture. Mr. Arar spent nearly a year detained in Syria, where he was brutally interrogated and tortured, without charge. After being beaten and whipped with two-inch thick electrical cable, Mr. Arar falsely confessed that he had attended a training camp in Afghanistan. He was held in a dark, damp underground cell the size of a grave for over ten months. "I was willing to do anything to stop the torture," he says. After nearly a year of confinement, Syrian authorities released Mr. Arar, publicly stating that they had found no connection to any criminal or terrorist organization or activity.

On January 22, 2004, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), FIDH member organization in the United States, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Attorney General John Ashcroft, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and several U.S. immigration officials. Mr. Arar alleged that the U.S. officials violated his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution and his right not to be subjected to torture under color of foreign law as guaranteed under the Torture Victim Protection Act. On February 16, 2006, the claims against the U.S. government officials for "rendering" him to Syria to be tortured and arbitrarily detained were dismissed. On September 18, 2006, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry established by the Canadian Government to Investigate the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Mr. Arar issued its report concluding "categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada." Mr. Arar’s Appeal was filed by CCR in the Second Circuit on December 12, 2006.

On December 21, 2006, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organization against Torture, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and others, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief before the Second Circuit in support of Mr. Arar. The brief states that customary international law and U.S. law incorporating international legal obligations prohibit the use of torture under any circumstances. The brief affirms that “[the American] Congress may not pass legislation permitting torture even in extraordinary circumstances without breaching the United States’ international and domestic legal obligations.”

See the brief attached.

For more information on the Arar Case, HERE

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