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Program Information
 Off the Hour 
 Canadian Citizen Illegally Detained Post-September 11th to be Sentenced This Week
 Stef from OCAP Immigration
 ckut community news  
 For non-profit use only.
"In no way do we think that he was mistreated," said the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada, when questioned last week about the plight of Shakir Baloch, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani descent held in a maximum security New York jail . . . S
Producer: gretchen k.
Uploaded by: gretchen k.
Previous interview about the case of Shakir and other political prisoners in the US, post Sept. 11th:

"In no way do we think that he was mistreated," said a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada, when questioned last week about the plight of Shakir Baloch, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani descent held in a maximum security New York jail for more than 6 months, three of them without charges and without counsel, following the post-September 11th sweep of 1200 people in the United States.

Commenting on Dr. Baloch's lengthy imprisonment, Carl Schwenger of DFAIT went on to say that the Ministry's involvement in the case was "closed", and that "the most important thing was that [Baloch] had good counsel." The Ministry claims to have "just learned" the outcome of Dr. Baloch's court appearance at the end of February. Aside from a perfunctory visit from Canadian consular officials in New York, Dr. Baloch has received no support or assistance from the government of the nation in which he has held citizenship for more than a decade.

Dr. Baloch, who traveled frequently to New York City in his efforts to support his family and gain equivalent certification to continue practicing medicine in North America as he'd done for years in Pakistan, was arrested on September 20th, repeatedly interrogated by the FBI, jailed in solitary confinement, denied the opportunity to contact his wife or a lawyer for weeks, kept under constant bright lighting and surveillance, shackled, and subjected to racist taunting by prison staff and the authorities - he has been kept under 'super-maximum security conditions', usually reserved for highly dangerous persons, in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Longstanding secrecy surrounding the horrific circumstances of hundreds and hundreds of men, largely of Muslim or Middle Eastern origin, swept up and jailed in the largest criminal investigation in US history has been lifted slightly by a recent Amnesty International report. The lengthy document released in March confirms what human rights and civil liberties advocacy groups have been condemning for months - a mass, seemingly arbitrary detention rife with violations of basic rights.
Deprivation of the right to counsel, very limited access to telephones, lack of translation services, lack of transparency of the procedures including the denial of open or speedy trials, a dramatic increase in bail fees, inordinate delays in release pending unexplained 'FBI clearance' ... the obstacles many of these men are facing are extreme.

The Amnesty International report points to Shakir's case specifically:
"In several cases people have been held beyond the legal limit under the law. In one case an attempt was made to bring a habeas corpus action seeking the detainee's release. This resulted in the INS immediately filing a routine immigration charge against the plaintiff, thus voiding the action.

* Shakir Baloch, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, waited over 100 days for a deportation order to be processed. He was arrested in New York on 22 September, where he was taking courses to improve his doctor's degree from Pakistan. He admitted having illegally entered the US after being denied entry on a previous occasion. He was ordered deported, refused bail and placed in isolation in the High Security Unit of MDC. His lawyer filed a petition for habeas corpus, after the 90 day period had passed, to which the Government responded by filing a criminal charge against him: entering the US after being excluded. He was still detained at the time of writing."

The Department of Foreign Affairs Canada has merely said that Shakir's treatment is "not standard".

On February 27th, 2002, Dr. Baloch appeared in court and found himself faced with the choice either to remain indefinitely in detention or to plead guilty to charges foisted upon him only after the US government was forced to 'justify' his horrendously lengthy jailing. Thus, in the hopes of returning to Canada to his family, he pled guilty to two charges, one of 'illegal entry' and one of 'possession of a false social security card'.

The Federal Court Judge, after assuring Dr. Baloch that he need not testify thoroughly by answering all questions put to him, quickly sent him back to jail for another five weeks, in order to accomodate a probation interview. On April 5th at 11am in New York, Dr. Baloch will be in court again - this time to be sentenced. The Judge has hinted that 'in the interests of justice', he could sentence Dr. Baloch to more time in jail than suggested under the sentencing guidelines. Thus, Shakir potentially faces years in jail for minor immigration violations, rather than an expedient return to Canada - common practice before September 11th, 2001.

"Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that ''Everyone has the right to liberty and security of the person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.'' To ensure freedom from arbitrary detention, Article 9(4) further provides that anyone ''who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court in order that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.'' The Human Rights Committee has stated that Article 9(1) is applicable to all deprivations of liberty, including ''immigration control.'' - Amnesty International, 2002

What you can do:
The Canadian and US governments took no steps to intervene in the brutal arrest and imprisonment of Dr. Baloch since last September until advocacy groups and agitation instigated by the National Lawyers Guild, CHRI, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) in the US, and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) in Canada last year forced the Canadian consulate to make token contact with Shakir. Formal charges were laid only after this rudimentary contact was made. The Canadian government has shirked responsibility for further involvement by touting a form allegedly signed by Shakir waiving his consular rights. Considering the intimidation and relentless interrogation Shakir has been subjected to throughout his imprisonment, the authenticity of such a waiver is highly suspect.

The Canadian government has failed to protect the rights of its citizens detained in this sweep. It is in a position to press the US government for the speedy return of people like Shakir to their homes and families in Canada. It has the responsibility to monitor cases such as Shakir's and ensure the preservation of basic rights, so many of which have been blatantly violated since last September.

There is less than a week left before Shakir is sentenced. He faces further imprisonment in the US. We must act to prevent such an injustice. Please call or fax the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham, to demand that a submission be made by the Canadian government arguing that Shakir be deported expediently to Canada, and stating that any further imprisonment for minor immigration violations will not be tolerated. Dr. Baloch will be sentenced on April 5th 2002. If you do not have time to write a letter, please telephone Mr. Graham.

Bill Graham,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Canada Department of Foreign Affiars in Ottawa:
(613) 995-1851 (tel.)
(613) 996-3443 (fax)

Graham's constituency office in Toronto:
(416) 920-2359 (tel.)
(416) 954-9649 (fax)

For more information, please contact:
Stefanie Gude,
OCAP Immigration,
(416) 925-6939,

The Amnesty International Report on Post-September 11 detainees can be found at:

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00:13:02 English
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