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A spotlight on secrets

Secret Trial 5 is being shown at The Screening Room this Sunday and Queen’s University professor Sharry Aiken has a significant role in the film, discussing the human impact of the war on terror. The film examines the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, an immigration tool that allows the government to deport non-citizens it deems a threat to national security.

Following the 4 pm showing Sunday, March 15 at The Screening Room, Professor Aiken will take part in a question and answer period.

“The film had already been conceived and the filmmakers approached me about appearing in it based on my research and advocacy,” says Professor Aiken. “I’ve been involved in efforts to challenge the use of security certificates since the 1990s."

Security certificates have been part of Canada’s immigration legislation for decades; over time, they have morphed into an anti-terrorism tool. Evidence against detainees is never fully revealed and parts of the hearings are held in secret.

Professor Aiken says the film shines a true light on these immigration procedures. “The Canadian public doesn’t know about these measures that are extremely draconian. People can expect to see a gripping film and leave the theatre angry and shocked. The film makes this situation very real.”

Secret Trial 5 examines the lives of five men who were arrested under the security certificate provision and detained for nearly 30 years combined. The filmmakers also speak with the men's family members, friends and the wider community about the impact of their arrests.

The film is also timely as the federal government debates amendments to Bill C-51, an anti-terrorism bill that Professor Aiken says could make security certificate procedures even more problematic. “The biggest obstruction to justice is the secret evidence withheld from individuals subject to immigration security procedures. Bill C-51 proposes to make withholding of evidence even easier and the process even more unbalanced,” she says.

The showing at The Screening Room is set for Sunday at both 4 and 7 pm. Along with Professor Aiken, the filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after the screening.