News agencies – January 4, 2013
When Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced the return to Canada of Omar Khadr in September 2012, he said he was confident that the convicted war criminal would receive “appropriate programming” in prison to ensure his safe re-integration into society. Yet, when Postmedia News submitted an access-to-information request for any records that relate to how the Correctional Service of Canada manages convicted terrorists and extremists, it was told that no such records exist. Observers say the government ought to have developed some kind of strategy by now for rehabilitating these unique inmates, given the earlier convictions in the “Toronto 18” terror case and the conviction of Ottawa terrorist Momin Khawaja.
“It is reasonable to expect that some thought should have gone into this,” said Jez Littlewood, director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University. “Aside from Khadr, the 11 convictions in the TO-18 case and the Khawaja case, should have initiated some discussion or paperwork.”
In recent years, the correctional service’s own annual reports have highlighted the need to address this apparent gap in prison programming. Canada’s spy service, CSIS, has raised concerns about the spread of extremist views within the prison system, noting in a 2012 threat assessment that “studies have identified that Islamist extremists have been further radicalized in prisons in countries such as Canada.”