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Sukanya Pillay

Executive Director and General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Sukanya Pillay joined CCLA in October 2009 as Director of the National Security Program. She was previously a law professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law (2002-2008), in-house legal counsel for Hutchison Telecommunications in India (2000-2002), Director of the Law & Human Rights Program at TVE International New York office (1998-2000), and Program Director of Witness with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First), New York (1995-1998). She made over twenty missions to conflict zones worldwide in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She has appeared before UN treaty bodies and Canadian courts on human rights issues, and has represented clients or presented expert evidence before administrative and judicial bodies in the US, India, Canada, and Europe.

Her research focuses on protecting the rights of vulnerable groups including the poor and disadvantaged in developing countries, refugees, and victims of human rights abuses, and she has written numerous papers published in academic journals on these issues. Sukanya won the Holmes-Cardozo award for research excellence from the American Academy of Legal Studies in Business (2006) for a co-authored paper on privacy, an Award for Excellence in Research from the University of Windsor (2005) for research and a documentary film on the effects of NAFTA on Mexican corn farmers, and an Outstanding Faculty Member Award from the Students Law Society Windsor (2003).

She graduated with a JD from the University of Windsor (1990), became a member of the Ontario Bar in 1992, and received an LL.M. in international legal studies from NYU School of Law (1994) where she was a graduate editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics. She worked at Davies Partners in Toronto (1992-1993), articled at Borden & Elliot (now Borden Ladner Gervais, Toronto) (1990-1991), clerked with the Ontario Court of Justice (1994-1995), and was seconded to work on the First Civil Justice Review with the Honourable Justice Robert Blair. Her documentary films and photography on human rights issues have appeared on BBC World, CBC, and in many film festivals.
CP

Canada's Anti-Terror Bill Is Gift-Wrapped in Rhetoric

There is no question the government must keep Canada safe from terrorist activities and threats, but Bill C-51 is not the answer. Bill C-51 is wide-sweeping in powers and gift-wrapped in rhetoric. We already have an arsenal of tools in the Criminal Code and other existing anti-terror legislation, which provides Canadian law enforcement and agencies with robust powers to fight terrorists. It was existing laws that successfully empowered Canadian police to thwart, arrest and charge suspects in the Toronto 18 and Via Rail terror plots. Bill C-51 simply increases government power in ways that can threaten innocent Canadians.
03/04/2015 09:51 EST
YouTube/Getty

Quebec's Charter of Values Disregards Human Dignity

A State has no right to tell a person what to wear. For some, clothing such as long skirts worn by Mormons, or kippas worn by Jews, are all symbols that are inextricably mixed with a person's beliefs, values, and expression. To deny this fundamental choice of a how a person expresses his or her values is antithetical to respecting human dignity.
09/15/2013 01:05 EDT
AFP

Why Pussy Riot is Our Riot

Why should we care about Pussy Riot? Short answer -- freedom and democracy. Around the world supporters have protested their detention, conviction, and sentence by saying "I am Pussy Riot." They are right. As Canadians we have a stake in freedom and democracy everywhere, including in Russia, and in the case of Pussy Riot.
08/27/2012 12:50 EDT
FRED TANNEAU / AFP

What to Think About on Prisoner's Justice Day

August 10 is International Prisoner's Justice Day, which began in Canada 37 years ago. In 1974 a Canadian man, Edward Nalon, died in the segregation unit of an Ontario prison, resulting in a day of mourning for prisoners across the country. This is an important day to consider how we treat people behind bars, and to remember the goals of incarceration. It is also a day for us to ask many questions about our prison system as a whole, and to assess how some of the recent actions of the Canadian government may affect these conditions
08/10/2012 12:21 EDT

Canada Could Do More to Stand Up for Torture Victims

June 26 is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture -- a day that requires reckoning. Canada itself does not torture and speaks out against torture -- this is good. But we may be missing the mark with some of our actions and omissions to support victims and condemn torture wherever we find it.
06/26/2012 12:15 EDT
CP

No Country Should Get Away With Torture -- Not Even Canada

May 2012 was Canada's turn to appear again before the UN Committee Against Torture. Governmental responses that the UN Committee should focus on countries worse than Canada don't make sense -- should a corporation with a strong ethical record say that it no longer needs to undergo audit processes because there are other corporations out there cooking the books?
06/08/2012 11:29 EDT

What Humphrey Bogart's "Rick" Would Think of Bill C-31

In the film Casablanca, the narrator tells us of the "tortuous roundabout refugee trail" that sprang up through Europe across the Mediterranean to Morocco, towards freedom in the Americas. If Bill C-31 had been in existence, those refugees would not have been looking to Canada -- is that the point?
04/05/2012 12:28 EDT