The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), in cooperation with civil society partners including CUPE, has released its long-awaited report on border controls and infringements to travellers’ rights.
Based on research and personal stories collected through this website, the report sheds light on the real impact of “enhanced” border controls, no-fly lists and other government watch lists. on the lives of real people. It also highlights serious concerns with the upcoming new U.S. Secure Flight rules, and/or a similar air passenger screening program being developed secretly by Public Safety Canada under the radar of parliamentarians.
The report describes the very complex web of travel-related security programs and databanks employing new technologies that only a couple of years ago would have been considered science-fiction. These programs allow governments to risk-score travellers, as well as collect and retain an increasing amount of personal information.
“It is little wonder that travellers encountering serious problems at the border are often unable to understand why they are targeted, while those unfairly targeted or victims of mistaken identity or racial/religious profiling are unable to seek redress,” said Michael Vonn, Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
“The report illustrates the potential for abuse and violation of travellers’ rights in light of the discretionary and arbitrary powers granted to officials of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the lack of any accountability mechanism governing their actions,” added Warren Allmand, a spokesperson for ICLMG.
“It is imperative that the government implement the recommendations of the O’Connor Commission into the case of Maher Arar calling for an integrated complaint and review mechanism over the operations of all agencies involved in national security, including CBSA and Transport Canada.”
For Karl Flecker, National Director of Human Rights and Anti-Racism at the Canadian Labour Congress, it is quite apparent from the testimonies collected that racial or religious profiling is a determining factor in the way individuals are treated at Canada/U.S. border crossings and airports. “The government must acknowledge this reality and Parliament should engage in a review of these practices to reaffirm that they are inappropriate under the Canadian Charter of Rights,” he said.
“This parliamentary review should urgently address a whole series of concerns,” added Dominique Peschard, President of la Ligue des droits et libertés. “These include inadequate legislative framework, lack of due process and judicial review, the use of arbitrary and discretionary powers and criteria to list individuals, the absence of any meaningful redress mechanism, data collection and information sharing practices, and the potential violation of privacy rights”.