Action Alert: Urge Canadian government to ratify treaty to help prevent torture


Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at the United Nations on September 25, 2014. Photo by Jason Ransom.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent non-partisan Muslim civil liberties & advocacy organization, is calling on supporters and fellow Canadians to urge their Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to address the continuing crisis of torture around the world.

What better time than now? This week we are marking International Human Rights Day, as well as the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Yesterday the NCCM, along with Amnesty International Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, as well as a diverse range of civil society organizations, delivered an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on the federal government to commit Canada to ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture first adopted by the UN in 2002.

“Twelve years later, Canada has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol, despite having made promises to the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 and 2009 to consider doing so,” reads the open letter.

This issue is even more pressing in light of the new US Senate Report into its Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) use of brutal interrogation techniques and countries who facilitated their program through various means including Canada.

The time has come for Canada to reclaim its former reputation as an international leader and take concrete steps to strengthen global efforts to end torture.

Send your elected representatives a clear message that Canadians reject and want no part of torture.


  1. Fill in your information on the right to e-mail the Prime Minister and your Member of Parliament expressing your opposition to torture and demanding that the Prime Minister commit Canada to ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture immediately.
  2. Follow-up with a phone call to your MP’s office and to the PMO to express your concerns. Demand that Canada ratify the Optional Protocol. To find your MP’s e-mail and phone number using your postal code check here.
  3. Support NCCM and help us keep working defending the rights of all Canadians. Make a financial contribution today here. Remember, the NCCM is zakat-eligible and is also a non-profit organization that depends on the support of Canadians like you. Communities need strong, professional institutions.

Important points to consider including in your emails and phone conversations:

  • This week marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and Canada should take the final step and ratify the instrument that establishes national and international systems for inspecting detention centres. In 2006 and 2009 Canada told the UN Human Rights Council that it would consider ratifying this Optional Protocol that was adopted by the UN in 2002.
  • Under the systems established by the Optional Protocol, inspections can identify and expose conditions that permit and encourage torture to take place. It seeks to pierce the shroud of secrecy that allows torture to continue in the 141 countries where it has been documented by Amnesty International in the last five years.
  • By signing on to the Optional Protocol Canada can again credibly and forcefully press other countries to follow suit. There are countries where torture is rampant and laws and institutions are inadequate to prevent torture and monitor detention facilities.
  • Canada needs to be party to the Optional Protocol in order to push for this mechanism that has great promise for torture prevention. Canada cannot oppose torture if it is not party to a mechanism to prevent it from taking place.
  • Detention centres in Canada would be subject to scrutiny and independent oversight to ensure that there are not occasional abuses at home including solitary confinement. But the major value to Canada of ratifying the Optional Protocol is to strengthen the ability to press other nations like China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria to ratify and open their detention centres to increased scrutiny.
  • With the multicultural diversity of Canada, many Canadians worry about the safety of their families and friends in countries where the risk of torture and ill-treatment is very high.
  • Canada can only be part of the global effort to make the world safer for everyone by pushing for the inspection of detention centres under the Optional Protocol. It is a necessary means to prevent torture.