OTTAWA — Three Canadians who were tortured in Syria have received just over $31 million in federal compensation.
The Liberal government said in March it had settled long-standing lawsuits filed by Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin over the federal role in their ordeals, though details of the settlement were not made public.
Recently released public accounts note the $31.25-million payment to three unidentified individuals and The Canadian Press has confirmed it refers to the settlement.
In October 2008, an inquiry led by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found Canadian officials contributed to the torture of Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin by sharing information with foreign agencies.
Iacobucci concluded the men were abused in Syrian custody and, in the case of El Maati, in Egypt as well.
The former judge cited the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs for mistakes in the cases.
All three men deny involvement in terrorism and none has ever been charged.
The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Thursday it could not discuss any monies paid to the individuals, but noted they had been seeking $100 million in compensation.
In March, Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland apologized to the men on behalf of the government "for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to their detention and mistreatment abroad and any resulting harm."
"We hope that the steps taken today will support them and their families in their efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in their lives."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also declined to discuss the amount of the settlement.
Speaking to reporters in Burlington, Ont., he emphasized that there are consequences whenever the government fails to defends the rights of its citizens.
"Canada has made it very clear nobody ever deserves to be tortured."
Earlier this year, the government apologized to Toronto-born Omar Khadr, a former inmate at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and settled his lawsuit with a payment of $10.5 million.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the Canadian government's participation in the "then-illegal military regime" at Guantanamo breached Khadr's guarantee of fundamental justice under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Trudeau said Thursday he hoped people would remain "concerned, angry and even outraged" at these sorts of settlements because no future government should ever think it is acceptable that fundamental rights be violated.
"When we don't stand up for people's rights, it ends up costing all of us."