CSIS Ministerial Direction on Information Sharing (2009)
Document Purpose: Protocol for CSIS to share information with foreign agencies and governments.
This document seems now to have been superseded by the 2011 ministerial direction on information-sharing.
Document Analysis: Pursuant to section 17 of the CSIS Act and in accordance with existing Ministerial Directives, CSIS may be authorized to enter into formal information sharing agreements with foreign agencies, including those that are generally recognized as having poor human rights records. CSIS is directed to not knowingly rely on information derived from torture, and take reasonable measures to reduce the risk that its actions could promote or condone torture.
CSIS’s review body, the SIRC, reported in its 2004-2005 annual report that at least one of the CSIS foreign arrangements that it audited “did not provide an adequate analysis of potential human rights issues.” It objected to CSIS’s claim that it “ensures” that information exchanged is not the cause or product of human rights abuses….the Service is rarely in a position to determine how information received from a foreign agency was obtained. As Mr. Elcock stated to the Arar Commission, when it comes to information that may have been the product of torture, “the reality is in most cases we would have no knowledge that it was derived from torture. You may suspect it was derived from torture, but tat is about as far as one will get in most circumstances” [Canada, SIRC, Annual Report 2004-2005 (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2005) in Forcese, NS Law, 487].Justice O’Connor’s recommendation at the Arar Inquiry was that “Canadian agencies should accept information from countries with questionable human rights records only after proper consideration of human rights implications. Information received from countries with questionable human rights records should be identified as such and proper steps should be taken to assess its reliability” (Forcese, NS Law, 488).