Monday, November 05, 2007

A big shout out to Amir Attaran tonight

And to the human rights groups for which he is acting in their suit against the federal government. The reason:
Human rights groups have cleared a major hurdle in a landmark lawsuit that claims Canada is violating the Charter of Rights by handing over prisoners in Afghanistan to face potential torture.

In a decision released Monday, Justice Anne Mactavish of Federal Court rejected a motion by government lawyers to quash the suit and ruled that Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association deserve their day in court.

The government had argued that the issues involved were political rather than judicial, that human rights advocates lacked any legal standing to mount a challenge, and that the case should be thrown out because it has no chance of succeeding.

Mactavish rejected all those claims, saying it's in the public interest to grant Amnesty and the B.C. group standing to carry the case on behalf of the detainees.

She also observed that "while a number of the issues raised by the case are novel, I cannot say that they are clearly bereft of any chance of success."

Mactavish was careful to note that she wasn't drawing any conclusions about the key issues, including the central one of whether the Charter applies to Canadian troops serving overseas.

Her ruling simply clears the way for further hearings at which the challengers can present a full argument. Nevertheless, Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor acting as co-counsel for the human rights groups, was jubilant.
Hooray for such judges who are independent, concerned about the legal issues and are totally unfazed by any political considerations. Let them have their day in court.