moved for leave to introduce Bill C-498, An Act prohibiting the commission, abetting or exploitation of torture by Canadian officials and ensuring freedom from torture for all Canadians at home and abroad and making consequential amendments to other Acts.
Mr. Speaker, we refer to this bill that I am introducing today as an act to prevent torture. Clearly, this is a timely bill, not only in light of the situations in recent years of Canadians having undergone torture abroad, from Maher Arar to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, but also in considering the questions the NDP has raised in this House for years regarding the transfer of Afghan detainees.
This bill is intended to ensure that going forward, the Canadian government would be fully accountable under similar circumstances. In placing this bill before this Parliament, the NDP is recognizing in a very clear way that Canadians do not support nor condone torture in any manner.
As a result of issues surrounding the transfer of detainees, Canada has faced very serious questions regarding allegations of violations of international law. This bill would enshrine the established obligations of international law into Canadian law and thus reinforce the deterrent factor.
Once this bill became the law of the land, it would become part of the training of all Canadian officials. A great deal of clarity as to responsibility and accountability would be introduced into the issue of torture. Protocols would need to be established to set out a clear duty to report to the proper authorities any known instances of torture. The bill would make it a criminal offence to use information known to be derived from torture and it would prohibit Canadian officials from handing over prisoners to be tortured at home or abroad. It would establish clear diplomatic protocols for the immediate repatriation of any Canadian citizen at the risk of torture abroad, yet it would not undermine in the least the ability of our authorities to investigate or prosecute these citizens in Canada. Last, it would call for the creation of a government watch list of countries known to engage in torture.
I believe that had this bill been the law of the land and these deterrents had been in place, Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki and others would never have been subjected to their horrific ordeals.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)