((Last week, Maher Arar was back in the news again as his U.S. lawyers argued in front of a U.S. Court of Appeal panel for the right to restart a lawsuit against the policy known as “extraordinary rendition”.
Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian engineer, had been intercepted by U.S. authorities in 2002 on his way home via the U.S. from a trip abroad. He was then shipped off to Syria where he was held in prison – without legal recourse and totally beyond the reach of the law – and tortured as an Islamist terrorist suspect.
After his return to Canada, a commission of inquiry cleared him of any connections to terrorist extremism and the Canadian government officially apologized.
There are quite a number of resources out there that discuss the topic of extraordinary rendition, in other words, the informal, usually incognito, transfer of suspects to abusive regimes so they can be subjected to torture:
- Law Librarian Blog described many of these resources last week – On Rendition (Not the Movie).
- JURIST, the legal news site run by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has an entire section devoted to the subject.
- And the Federation of American Scientists has posted a report from the Congressional Research Service entitled Renditions: Constraints Imposed by Laws on Torture: “Although the particularities regarding the usage of extraordinary renditions and the legal authority behind such renditions are not publicly available, various U.S. officials have acknowledged the practice’s existence. Recently, there has been some controversy as to the usage of renditions by the United States, particularly with regard to the alleged transfer of suspected terrorists to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture, purportedly with the knowledge or acquiescence of the United States. This report discusses relevant international and domestic law restricting the transfer of persons to foreign states for the purpose of torture.”