Commission Of Inquiry Into The Actions Of Canadian Officials In Relation To Maher Arar

Maher Arar was born in Syria and came to Canada with his family at the age of 17. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991. On 26 September 2002, while in transit in New York’s JFK airport when returning home from a vacation, Arar was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Syria, where he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

On 28 January 2004, the Government of Canada announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar. On 18 September 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O'Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, stating he was "able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada." The Inquiry Report also made a number of findings about Canada's role and set out a series of recommendations relating both to how the wrongs done to Arar should be redressed and what steps should be taken to prevent this type of abuse from happening again in future.  

REDRESS was one of the international intervenors in the Inquiry and made a number of written submissions on the international law context. REDRESS also appeared in person before the Commission to make oral submissions. REDRESS has also been involved in legal proceedings in the USA brought by Arar to seek a remedy against the US officials responsible for his illegal rendition.


Photo credit: Amnesty International

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