Sunday, April 01, 2007

Is Canada's Passenger Protect Program nothing less than a “No-Fly” List?

By Faisal Kutty

As the Canadian government forges ahead with its cleverly named Passenger Protect Program, the timing could not be better to seriously reconsider what is for all intents and purposes a no-fly list.
...hasty and ill considered national security initiatives which are essentially aimed at managing perceptions more than they are in really addressing legitimate and manageable security concerns are not harmless.
In fact, they cause disproportionate harm in return for very minor gains in terms of intelligence and law enforcement. The innocent and unintended victims of such initiatives are real human beings with lives, rights and dignity. When not properly designed to address the negative impacts such initiatives can significantly disrupt and even destroy lives.
...religious and racial profiling, no matter how vigorously it is denied, is too often the reality for a growing number in Canada’s Muslim and Arab communities at least in the national security context. In fact, this was confirmed by none other than the Department of Justice in a report leaked a couple of years ago.
The proliferation of government watch lists is a troubling development in the “war on terrorism.” The challenges of such lists include differences of opinion on who’s actually a security threat, consolidating information across agencies by making the computer systems communicate the with one another. In fact, Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser found in 2004 that watch-lists used to screen visa applicants, refugee claimants and travelers seeking to enter Canada were in disarray because of inaccuracies and shoddy updating.
And now we have another list to worry about.
(read the complete article here