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Crimes Against Humanity

August 10, 2011

not a safe haven for perpetrators – In the mid-1980s, the DOJ and the RCMP created specialized war crimes sections to investigate allegations related to war crimes and crimes against humanity from the Second World War. Subsequently, CIC established a war crimes unit of its own in the mid-1990s. In 1998, the War Crimes Program was created as an interdepartmental initiative between CIC, the DOJ and the RCMP, with the CBSA becoming a partner in the program upon its inception in December 2003. This collaboration marked a significant development in Canada’s battle against impunity and, coupled with the implementation of stronger legislation (the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act), has advanced Canada as a global leader in the effort to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes. The intent of the War Crimes Program is to provide a range of complementary remedies to ensure that Canada is not a safe haven for perpetrators of human and international rights violations. Remedies are restricted by available funding. Criminal investigations and prosecution, widely seen as essential to international justice, are the most expensive options and only pursued in a fraction of the cases. Therefore partners diligently seek the more cost-effective remedies such as early detection and denial of entry into Canada. However, this does not resolve the issue of potential war criminals already residing in the country (Eleventh Annual Report: Canada’s Program on Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes, 2007-2008).

duty to prevent torture – The Criminal Code of Canada and the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act make torture anywhere, by anyone, an indictable criminal offence in Canada. The jurisdiction and the duty to prosecute have, in the case of G.W. Bush, already been triggered. The duty and jurisdiction were triggered when it was learned that U.S. officials tortured Canadian citizen Omar Khadr and when G.W. Bush previously entered Canada. We note that Mr. Justice O’Reilly of the Federal Court in the April 23, 2009 judgment in Khadr v. The Prime Minister et al, confirmed Canada’s obligation to prevent torture within Canada and to prosecute offenders. As part of the duty to prevent torture, Canada also has an urgent duty to investigate allegations of torture and of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Rulings of the CAT Committee establish that delay by a state to investigate allegations of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment is itself a violation of CAT. Canada’s duty to investigate G.W. Bush for torture became imperative once it was known that the U.S. torture Omar Khadr — i.e. by March 2004 (Dear Prime Minister Harper: Bar Bush or prosecute him for torture ).

UNCAT – The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) has been signed by almost every nation on Earth. Canada is a signatory. So is the United States, thanks to Ronald Reagan. The UNCAT requires states to make torture a crime under domestic legislation. It also requires states to conduct “a prompt and impartial investigation wherever there is reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been committed.” So there two conditions to trigger an obligation to investigate: There have to be reasonable grounds and the suspected acts must constitute torture. On reasonable grounds, there is no doubt. The evidence amounted to far more than that even before Bush repeatedly and emphatically admitted what he’d done. But was it torture? Bush and company deny it, but legal scholars scoff. Domestic American courts have convicted defendants for the very acts they authorized. So have American military tribunals. And international tribunals. The American government’s own statements on human rights routinely describe waterboarding and the other techniques as “torture” when they are committed by foreign governments. It’s torture. Case closed (Debate: George W. Bush ordered torture. He’s a war criminal).

The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000, c. 24) (CAHWCA) is a statute of the Parliament of Canada. The Act implements Canada’s obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In passing the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act on 24 June 2000 and having Royal Assent given on 29 June 2000, Canada became the first country in the world to incorporate the obligations of the Rome Statute into its domestic laws (Wikepedia).

International criminal law is a body of international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. Principally, it deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity as well as the War of aggression. This article also discusses crimes against international law, which may not be part of the body of international criminal law. “Classical” international law governs the relationships, rights, and responsibilities of states. Criminal law generally deals with prohibitions addressed to individuals, and penal sanctions for violation of those prohibition imposed by individual states. International criminal law comprises elements of both in that although its sources are those of international law, its consequences are penal sanctions imposed on individuals (Wikepedia).


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