Peter Finn
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‘Caveats were down’
The Canadian Official Record and the treatment of Maher Arar
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In September 2002 a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin, Maher Arar, was detained at JFK airport in New York City. Arar was detained in New York for eleven days prior to an extraordinary rendition to Syria via Jordan. In Syria, Arar was subject to physical abuse and torture, and held until October 2003. Following his release, a commission of inquiry was held in Canada. Among other things, this commission documented issues with the Canadian state’s sharing and receiving of material about Arar and his mistreatment and torture in Syria. Via engagement with material from the ‘Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar’ (the Arar Commission) this chapter highlights issues that can arise with the sharing of the Official Record between states. The chapter has three main sections. The first section documents the circumstances that led to the capture of Arar in New York, his treatment in custody in the US, his rendition to, and brief detention in, Jordan and his transfer to and almost year-long detention in Syria. Arar was mistreated while in Jordan, and over a more prolonged period was tortured in Syria. Next, the chapter outlines the main documents placed into the Public Record by the Arar Commission. Finally, the chapter highlights two key issues arising from the sharing of the official records between two different states.

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The Official Record

Oversight, national security and democracy

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