OTTAWA – Secret trials of non-citizens under Canadian immigration law violate the fundamental right of individuals to a fair trial, the country’s highest court ruled Friday.

But to ensure its ruling does not throw the government’s counterterrorism efforts into disarray, the Supreme Court has given parliament one year to rewrite the controversial law that enables security certificates.

The ruling is a landmark victory for three men detained on such certificates: Adil Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat and Hassan Almrei. They had argued that the security certificate process violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in several ways.

However, that victory may ring hollow today, as the certificates under which they are being held will not be immediately struck down. They will have to wait one year before they can apply to have their certificates quashed.

The Supreme Court found that the security certificate process violates certain provisions of the Charter, but not all of the provisions raised by the three men.

In particular, the court took issue with the secrecy of the process, which is designed to deal with permanent residents and foreign nationals who pose a threat to national security.


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