arar2_maher31104

A UN report singled out the Canadian case of Maher Arar in denouncing information sharing with foreign intelligence agencies without "adequate safeguards" to protect human rights. ((CBC))

A United Nations report points to the case of Canadian Maher Arar as an example of how human rights can be jeopardized by information sharing between intelligence agencies.

Sanctions against a suspect should not be based on foreign intelligence unless the person in question can effectively challenge its "credibility, accuracy and reliability," says the report of Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism.

"The increased powers of intelligence services to conduct measures that seriously interfere with individuals’ rights, as well as the increasing relevance of intelligence for legal and administrative actions, make it essential that adequate accountability mechanisms are put in place to prevent human rights abuses," it says.

The report singles out Arar, who was detained at a New York airport in September 2002 and sent to Syria where he was detained and tortured for a year.

Canadian and American authorities had a verbal "free flow" agreement of intelligence where information was exchanged in real time between agencies, said the report.

"In this agreement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police abandoned the privacy policies that ordinarily would have governed national security investigations, which resulted in the sharing of inaccurate and misleading information and in broader sharing of information than was usually the case," said the report.

It also calls on allied countries, including Canada, to fully investigate their role in the torture of suspects and to take steps to prevent future abuses.

"States must ensure that the victims of such unlawful acts are rehabilitated and compensated."

Arar received $10.5 million in compensation after a federal inquiry found the RCMP passed inaccurate and misleading information to American intelligence officials that likely led to his detention and torture.

The UN special rapporteur on protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism operates under the authority of the UN Human Rights Council and works with governments to identify and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism while respecting human rights, according to the UN website.

With files from the Canadian Press