Eminent jurists to hold hearings on Canada’s counter-terrorism measures

The Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights is holding hearings in Toronto and Ottawa to assess the impact on human rights of Canada’s counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices.

The Panel is represented in Canada by its Chair, Justice Arthur Chaskalson, former Chief Justice of South Africa and first President of South Africa’s Constitutional Court and by Professor Robert K. Goldman, former President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and former United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

The Canada hearings, co-organized by the ICJ and its Canadian section, are the thirteenth in a series of hearings held around the world by the Panel as part of its global inquiry on the compatibility of counter-terrorism measures with international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

In the aftermath of the attacks on 11 September 2001, Canada has taken a series of anti-terrorism measures, including the adoption of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which have raised human rights concerns within Canadian civil society. “We are here to listen to a wide range of perspectives from Canadian authorities and civil society on Canada’s responses to the global threat of terrorism and the challenges faced to ensure full protection of human rights while effectively addressing terrorist threats.” said Justice Chaskalson.

At the hearings, the Panel will hear testimonies from lawyers, academics, national and international human rights organisations, and persons directly affected by Canada’s counter-terrorism measures. The Panel will also hold private meetings with senior representatives of the Canadian Government.

The Toronto and Ottawa hearings are public. On Friday 27 April, the Panel will hold a press conference at 10.30am in the Charles Lynch Room (30-S) on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to share preliminary conclusions on its visit to Canada.


The Panel is composed of eight judges, lawyers and academics from all regions of the world. In addition to Justice Chaskalson and Professor Goldman, the other members are Hina Jilani (Pakistan), a lawyer before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders; Mary Robinson (Ireland), now Head of the Ethical Globalization Initiative, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland; Stefan Trechsel (Switzerland), former President of the European Commission on Human Rights, and judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; Georges Abi-Saab (Egypt), former Judge at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda; Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Professor of Law at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and UN expert on human rights in North Korea and Justice E. Raúl Zaffaroni (Argentina), a judge at the Supreme Court of Argentina. The Panel exercises its mandate independently, with the logistical support of the ICJ Secretariat and its network of organizations.

The Panel has held hearings in Australia, Colombia, East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), the United Kingdom (in London on current counter-terrorism policies and in Belfast on lessons from the past), North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), the United States, the Southern Cone (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay), South-East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand), the Russian Federation and South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives). Other regions where the Panel will hold hearings include the Middle East and Europe. At the end of the hearings’ process, the Panel will publish a global thematic report in the second half of 2007.

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