Why Canada must stand clearly behind
Hassan Diab

Why hasn’t the federal government firmly taken a position to stop any prospect of a new extradition?
By Yavar Hameed

Canada’s response to the French Court of Appeal’s January 2021 decision to proceed to trial against Ottawa sociology professor Hassan Diab has been ambiguous. Diab, who spent three years in a French prison, returned to Canada in 2018 after all charges were dismissed against him by designated French anti-terrorism judges…

It’s clear why Canada must unequivocally stop any potential extradition process for Diab to face the “weak” charges that have been reinvoked by the French Court of Appeal.

First, the evidence against Diab has previously been found not to be sufficient to proceed to trial at a Court d’assise by anti-terrorism judges who are specialized in assessing the merit of anti-terrorism prosecutions. So, France had already taken a good long look at its case for more than a decade and decided it was inadequate to go to trial.

Second, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has previously found the evidence against Diab to be “weak” and in particular, that “ … the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.” As a corollary to this problem, the political decision to allow an extradition of Diab would be for Canada to subject its citizen to an outcome which offends Canada’s own standards of legal fairness and would also not advance the public interest.

Third, the Court of Appeal’s decision is based on the same old case against Diab. There is no indication that any new information has surfaced that would materially alter, cast doubt upon or suggest that there was some error in fact or in law by the anti-terrorism judges who originally dismissed the charges against Diab. According to Diab’s Canadian lawyer, the appeal “flies in the face of existing evidence”…

The litmus test for when human rights are shown to matter is when they are defended despite the inconvenience of doing so. For Canada, this means taking a clear, unequivocal and principled position against Diab’s extradition, even when doing so might offend the nuances of diplomatic relations between Canada and France.

Read the full piece in The Ottawa Citizen