Torture victims receive $31M
Weekend, October 27-29, 2017 Three MuslimCanadians jailed based on false information World
Three Muslim Canadian men, detained and tortured in the Middle East during the security fervor that followed 9/11, will get $31.25 million from the federal government. The payout was kept secret until this month and is part of a legal settlement that was first reported by Torstar in February and announced by the Liberal government weeks later.
The resolution and accompanying government apology put an end to a nine-year court battle for compensation that has been called for since 2008.
Between 2001 and 2003, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin were separately jailed in Syria and tortured by interrogators, who acted, in part, on information from the CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, and the RCMP. Former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci concluded, in his 2008 report on their cases, that Canadian agents labeled the men Islamic extremists and shared information with other countries without proper precautions about its unreliability. The men were never charged. They sued Ottawa for $100 million.
In March, the Liberal government announced it had reached a settlement and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale apologized to Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin for “any role Canadian officials may have played” in what led to their arrests and torture.
While the government still refused to say how much it would pay each of the men on Thursday, the $31.25-million settlement was revealed in government accounting documents tabled in the House of Commons on Oct. 5 and quietly published online.
In an interview with Torstar, Almalki said he’s ready to try and move on from a terrible episode in his life.
“We were falsely targeted based on racism and bigotry,” said Almalki, 46, who lives in Ottawa with his wife and kids.
Speaking in Burlington, Ont. Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the payout “a difficult lesson” for what happens when Canadian governments “of any stripe” allow a citizen’s rights to be violated.
“When we don’t stand up for people’s rights, it ends up costing all of us,” he said.
On Parliament Hill, Goodale claimed the government was transparent about the settlement cost by reporting the payouts in the accounting documents published this month. He said that’s what was promised when the settlement was announced in March. Public health In ringing and personal terms, President Donald Trump on Thursday pledged that “we will overcome addiction in America,” declaring opioid abuse a national public health emergency and announcing new steps to combat what he described as the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.
Trump’s declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources, including toward expanded access to medical services in rural areas. But it won’t bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Americans a day.
Deaths have surged from opioids, which include some prescribed painkillers, heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, often sold on the nation’s streets.
Officials said they also would urge Congress to add new cash to a public health emergency fund, which contains just $57,000.
Abdullah Almalki, right to left, Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El-Maati arrive at a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 21, 2008. Three Canadians who were tortured in Syria have received a total of $31 million in federal compensation.