Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is $12.5 million adequate compensation for being tortured, kept captive in a grave for over 10 months for being a "suspect", without proof?

from: altmuslim. com

In September 2002, Maher Arar was on a flight returning to Canada when he was detained in the United States, interrogated, and then deported to Syria where he was incarcerated and subject to torture for nearly a year. Last week, the Canadian government finally issued a formal apology and $12.5 million in compensation for its role in the Arar ordeal (background here).

But now critics are raising new questions about the compensation offered to Arar. Some complain that the money is too much, or that it isn't necessary. Others suggest political opportunism on the part of Arar. Certainly this is the largest sum offered to any single individual in Canada. But the amount is based on the Canadian government's assessment of what Arar would likely have won in a lawsuit. Moreover, this isn't simply a payout intended to appease Arar. It is compensation based on Canada's recognition of its commitment to the rule of law. When wrongs are committed, justice is pursued even if it means holding government officials accountable; in Arar's case, restitution came in the form of financial compensation.Arar's account of the ordeal is terrifying.

For months, he was confined to a grave-like cell and subject to repeated interrogation combined with physical and psychological torture. When he was finally returned to Canada – a broken man – he bore the burden of being considered a suspected terrorist, so much so that he found to his surprise that even members of the Muslim community were fearful of the social and political repercussions of being associated with him.

In fact, there remain sceptics who believe Arar is somewhat guilty despite the public inquiry that cleared his name after finding no evidence he was ever linked to extremist groups or was a threat to Canada's national security.