Feb 12 2010

Exporting anti-democracy

As the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver, a Canadian coalition led by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has released a timely Report of the Information Clearinghouse on Border Controls and Infringements to Travellers’ Rights on the human rights issues faced by travellers to, from, and within Canada, based on two years of research and reports submitted to their ongoing monitoring project.

It’s an extremely valuable work of research and reporting, worth reading on its own right and for the comparisons with border controls and infringements to travelers’ rights in the USA.

One thing that stands out clearly in the report is the extent to which these infringements of Canadian travelers’ rights — even those traveling entirely within Canada, or between Canada and countries other than the USA — result from cross-border pressure by the US government, the enforcement by Canadian authorities and airlines of directives from the USA, and the adoption by the Canadian government and travel companies of systems modeled on those of the USA.

There’s an important lesson in the cases studies in the report and on the project website for Canadians and citizens of other countries: This is where your civil liberties end up when you allow the dicta of “homeland security” for the USA to override your own national principles and international commitments to human rights.

Let us all learn from this example not to make the new travel surveillance and control norms of the USA the new norms of the world.