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Maher Arar

Maher Arar

Posted: June 28, 2010 04:31 PM

In Refusing to Hear My Case, The Supreme Court Has Put the World's Peace and Order in Danger

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Last week the Supreme Court of the United States of America refused to hear my case. This eliminates any remaining hope for me of obtaining justice through the U.S. judicial system against US officials who sent me to Syria to be tortured.

Let me emphasize the fact that my case is not an isolated one. My case is unique in the sense that I was the only person who was rendered from US soil. But hundreds of other human beings have been rendered by the CIA and handed over to brutal regimes. No one knows how many of these people have died under torture or completely disappeared. Those of us who were lucky "survived" and were released, but now live with psychological and physical scars.

In times of turmoil and crisis, such as the ones we have been living since 9/11, the judicial system is supposed to do exactly the opposite of what it has done: it is supposed to stand up to the executive branch and make sure the constitution is respected. Unfortunately, the judicial system has abandoned its sacred role of ensuring that no one is above the law. In doing so it has given the executive branch the green light to continue abusing people's basic human rights. As a result of this willful blindness, it has put the world's peace and order in danger.

A lot of people had high hopes when Obama took his oath to uphold the Constitution. It later became clear that his administration was no better than that of his predecessor. Here we are, 18 months after he took office, and Guantánamo is still open, renditions are still being carried out and illegal assassinations by drone planes have increased tenfold. This latter tactic has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians so far. One can only wonder what is next in the so-called "war on terror."

What is the solution to this state of lawlessness that the world is experiencing today? In my opinion, the judicial system can, and should, exercise its full powers. American Judges should learn lessons from their Italian counterparts, who did not listen to their political masters when it came to laying charges against the CIA officers who illegally kidnapped an Egyptian cleric on Italian soil and rendered him to torture in Egypt.

The RCMP, the Canadian federal police force, has launched a criminal investigation into my case. They have been collecting evidence with the view to charge those Syrian and American officials who were responsible for my torture. Whether charges will be brought against these officials will be something I and other human rights advocates will be watching very closely.

History has taught us that civilizations prosper when they make sure that justice prevails. Those civilizations that forgot this important lesson saw their might vanish in the eyes of people. I have no choice but to agree with Benjamin Franklin, who once wrote, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."