The country’s defence minister has issued new rules to the Canadian Armed Forces, Department of National Defence and the Communications Security Establishment that put limitations on gathering and using information obtained through torture.
Minister Harjit Sajjan, along with foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, spoke to reporters Thursday about their new ministerial directions which forbid using, sharing or disclosing information obtained through torture or that could lead to torture.
“The Government of Canada unequivocally condemns in the strongest possible terms the mistreatment of any individual by anyone for any purpose,” stated Sajjan.
The only exception is that such information can be used “when it is absolutely necessary to prevent loss of life or significant personal injury.”
Citing that torture is a criminal offence, is prohibited by international law and is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the decision for these new rules was made in November. It is also a result of concerns expressed by Canadians during the government’s public consultations national security. It is expected that they will ensure Canada’s officials have clear guidelines and are not complicit in any mistreatment.
The new rules also put in place a new structure and reporting requirements for oversight. This means that an annual report must be submitted to the minister and National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and other existing review bodies.
A similar ministerial direction was issued by the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness to Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in late September. The decision was made by this department after a review of the 2011 Ministerial Directions on Information-sharing with Foreign Entities, in an effort to be more open and transparent.