Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Justice for Maher Arar

In 2002, Maher Arar was detained in the USA while on a stopover returning home to Canada. The Americans then labelled him a terrorist and rendered him to Syria, where he was tortured at their behest. Now, Canada has formally charged one of his torturers:

Canada has charged a Syrian intelligence officer with torturing Maher Arar, the Canadian whose 2002 rendition to Syria by U.S. authorities became a cause célèbre.

The criminal charge against Col. George Salloum is reportedly the first of its kind in Canada and marks a formal acknowledgment that Arar was tortured after the U.S. handed him over on suspicion of terrorist links. An earlier official Canadian inquiry declared Arar innocent of any such links.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who brought the charge against Salloum, are calling for him to be extradited to Canada. Salloum allegedly oversaw Arar’s torture in Syria’s notorious Sednaya prison.

This is good news, and hopefully Salloum will be extradited to face justice. But at the same time, there's an obvious question: shouldn't Canada also be charging the American spies who rendered Arar and arranged his torture? Or do they get a free pass because they're American?