Hassan Diab wants more than an independent review of his extradition

May 30, 2018

Hassan Diab, the Ottawa university lecturer who was extradited to France and spent three years in prison there before a judge ordered his release, says the promise of an independent review of his case doesn't go far enough.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould revealed her department's request for the review in a letter sent to Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), a copy of which was obtained by CBC News.

"As you know, Department of Justice Canada officials have undertaken a 'lessons learned' review of the Diab extradition proceedings," Wilson-Raybould wrote in the letter dated May 29.

"I have also asked for an independent external review of this matter."

A Department of Justice spokesperson on Wednesday morning confirmed the request for an external review, which has not yet started.

The external review is a significant move by the minister but falls short of the public inquiry the human rights groups were asking for.

At a Wednesday press conference, Diab called the announcement of a review instead of a public inquiry "ambiguous," saying it likely would only lead to "half-way solutions."

His lawyer, Donald Bayne, said he wants to know who the justice minister has asked to lead the review and how public the proceedings would be.

Bayne criticized the letter issued by the minister as a "defence of the department's handling of Dr. Diab's case."

"We don't know whether to be thankful or troubled by the minister's line in the letter in which she asked for an independent external review of this matter, because that language frankly is ambiguous," Bayne said.

"This cannot amount through ambiguity to a political whitewash." he said.

'Grave concerns' with extradition law

A public inquiry convened under the Inquiries Act, led by a retired or current judge with the power to compel witnesses and full access to documents, is needed to thoroughly investigate the Diab case, said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

"This needs to happen quickly," Neve said. 

"The Extradition Act is live legislation and other individuals will have their cases dealt with under the same system, and we all therefore have very grave concerns that further injustices might be just around the corner." 

Read more: Hassan Diab wants more than an independent review of his extradition