SIRC completes review into CSIS's role in Arar case

Ottawa, May 19, 2004 - The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) has submitted its report into the case of Maher Arar to the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. SIRC's report was prepared pursuant to Section 54 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.

When I announced last year that SIRC would be conducting this review, it was my intention to release as much information as possible upon completion,” said the Honourable Paule Gauthier, SIRC's Chair. However, she noted that the situation changed, once the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials In Relation to Maher Arar was established in January, 2004. “At this point in time, I do not believe that any part of SIRC's report should be made public, to avoid impeding or prejudging the Commission's investigation.

Madame Gauthier has suggested to Minister McLellan that she make a copy of SIRC's report available to the Commission of Inquiry. In addition, she informed the Minister that the Committee “would have no objection” if the Commission included a summary or parts of the information in its own public report, after being vetted to respect national security and privacy concerns.

Consistent with its legal mandate, SIRC's review was restricted to an investigation of CSIS's involvement in this matter. It did not examine the activities of any other federal departments or agencies. SIRC sought to determine what role, if any, CSIS had in the detention, deportation and incarceration of Arar. It also examined the relationship between CSIS and various domestic and foreign agencies, and the nature and extent of the information on Arar that CSIS may have received from or divulged to domestic and foreign agencies. To pursue this inquiry, SIRC reviewed - on several occasions - documentation held by CSIS; submitted a total of 75 written questions to CSIS; and met twice with the CSIS Director and his senior staff.

SIRC's S. 54 report is a classified document which was submitted directly to Minister McLellan. In addition to providing advice and a series of findings and recommendations to the Minister, SIRC also identified several issues which the Commission of Inquiry may wish to pursue. These have been summarized for the convenience of Mr. Justice O'Connor and his staff.

I am confident that the Minister will find SIRC's report useful,” said Madame Gauthier. “This case underlines why it is so important to have truly independent, external review mechanisms, because ultimately they exist to protect Canadians' rights and freedoms and ensure the accountability of some of our most powerful institutions.

Attachment: SIRC's Role and Responsibilities

For further information about SIRC, please contact:
Suzanne Beaubien
Research Manager
(613) 990-8445
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