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ARCHIVED - Canada's War Crimes Program

Seventh Annual Report
2003-2004

 

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Activities for the period of April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004

Introduction

The policy of the Government of Canada is unequivocal. Canada will not be a safe haven for persons involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity or other reprehensible acts.

In recent years, Canada has shown strong leadership in taking steps to deny refuge to persons who have committed atrocities. These measures have included new statutes and amendments to others, international commitments to bring war criminals to justice, the creation of specialized units to strengthen enforcement, reorganization of departments and increased interdepartmental coordination.

The Annual Report on the War Crimes Program provides information on the program's activities during the past fiscal year. General information about the program, history, partners and legislation will be available on a newly designed website, where the Annual Reports will be posted.

The 2002-2003 Annual Report is available at the following site: http://canada.justice.gc.ca/en/dept/pub/cca/report0203/index.html.

Previous Annual Reports are available at the following site: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/index-2.html.

This Annual Report covers the period from April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004 and includes changes made to departments during the year.

Department of Justice e-mail contact: wc-cdg@justice.gc.ca

RCMP e-mail contact: war_crimes-crimes_de_guerre@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Under Canada's War Crimes Program, war criminals and those responsible for crimes against humanity are not welcome in Canada, whether the crimes were committed during World War II or more recently. Three federal government partners cooperate to deliver the War Crimes Program: the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Senior officials from specialized units in each department or agency share responsibility for managing the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Program through the Interdepartmental Operations Group. The partners discuss and develop common policy objectives to ensure cooperation at the day-to-day working level. Responsibility for the War Crimes Program was transferred from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to the CBSA on December 12, 2003. Both the CBSA and the RCMP come under the portfolio of the new department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC).

The Canadian Government can choose from several approaches in dealing with war criminals, including investigation and criminal prosecution in Canada, extradition to foreign governments, surrender to international tribunals, denial of visas outside Canada or of admission to Canada, exclusion from refugee protection in Canada, revocation of citizenship, admissibility hearings and removal from Canada. The RCMP, with the support of DOJ, investigates allegations of reprehensible acts that could lead to a possible criminal prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. The CBSA pursues remedies under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). CIC refuses to issue immigrant or temporary resident visas to persons involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity. In the case of Canadian citizens, CIC can seek revocation of citizenship under the Citizenship Act, in cooperation with DOJ and the RCMP.

Taking action against persons who have allegedly committed or are complicit in crimes against humanity or war crimes requires a great deal of international effort and cooperation. Canada continues to show leadership in supporting the work of international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the hybrid Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Canada has ratified both the International Criminal Court Statute, which entered into force on July 1, 2002, and the protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts. Canada was the first country to introduce comprehensive legislation incorporating the provisions of the International Criminal Court statute into domestic law with the proclamation of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act on October 23, 2000.

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ACTIVITIES 2003 - 2004

Canada Border Services Agency / Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Transition

On December 12, 2003, the Modern War Crimes Program was transferred from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to the newly created Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), along with CIC's other intelligence and enforcement responsibilities. CBSA continues to work closely with CIC in upholding the objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), by preventing persons involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity from coming to Canada and by taking enforcement action against those who arrive or remain in Canada.

New Organization

The Modern War Crimes Unit, formerly part of CIC's Intelligence Branch, became part of CBSA's Immigration Intelligence Branch during the transitional period. Regional offices responsible for the Modern War Crimes Program and Migration Integrity Officers working overseas have also joined CBSA. Within the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (PSEPC) portfolio, CBSA continues to work closely on security issues with its intelligence and security partners and with CIC officials responsible for the selection and admission to Canada of immigrants, refugees and visitors.

At the end of March 2004, CBSA was still working on details of the new organization, which will be available on the new War Crimes web site when finalized.

The Modern War Crimes Unit

The responsibilities of the Modern War Crimes Unit include:

  • co-ordination and reporting of war crimes issues;
  • management of war crimes caseload by providing support to visa officers abroad and offices in Canada;
  • liaison with partners in Canada's War Crimes Program, other departments, foreign governments and international tribunals;
  • policy guidance and training;
  • research and information; and
  • advice and support to the Ministers of PSEPC and CIC on war crimes issues and cases.

Designation of Regimes

Section 35(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives the Canadian government the authority to designate governments considered to have engaged in gross human rights violations, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Senior officials of those regimes, including senior diplomats and senior military officers, are considered complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity. On November 21, 2003, the Minister of CIC designated the government of Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam, covering the period of September 12, 1974 to May 21, 1991. The nine designated regimes listed in Appendix 4 include those carried over from the former Immigration Act.

Research

During the year, researchers in CBSA's Immigration Intelligence Branch responded to a total of 1549 requests for information on issues related to war crimes and crimes against humanity from within the branch, visa offices and regional offices in Canada, as well as from the RCMP and partners in the United States. The Intelligence Branch's Intelligence Coordination and Research Division also produced a total of 46 screening aids, guides, chronologies and country reports to help officers assess cases in specific countries.

Information Technology

The Modern War Crimes System (MWCS) is an open source electronic database containing information on modern war crimes issues, including people, events and organizations involving war crimes and crimes against humanity. Maintained by researchers in the Modern War Crimes Unit's Research and Information Management Centre, the MWCS is available to local and regional offices and Canadian missions abroad.

CBSA's Intelligence Branch has developed a Secure Tracking System (STS) to track cases and manage statistical and other departmental support information. Developed to replace three separate case tracking systems, STS was implemented in September 2003. Enhancements to the new system are ongoing.

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Training

Modern War Crimes analysts and regional trainers continue to update and deliver a three-day War Crimes Training Course, with the assistance of a war crimes expert from the Department of Justice. In January 2004, a war crimes training course in French was given in Montreal to 16 participants, including war crimes hearings officers, intelligence officers, and program specialists.

Support to International Criminal Tribunals

CBSA's extensive experience in screening for modern war crimes makes the agency a valuable partner to the International Tribunals, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Tribunal for Rwanda. CBSA continues to participate in the Government of Canada's activities to support international tribunal prosecutions and investigations.

Outreach

Communication with other interested parties, both at home and abroad, is vital to promoting understanding of Canada's "no safe haven" policy. CBSA and CIC officials, both in Canada and at missions abroad, work to increase awareness of Canada's war crimes policy among other Canadian government partners and international colleagues operating in regions affected by war and violence.

In July 2003, the Modern War Crimes Unit hosted a two-day fact-finding visit by officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including the head of their new Human Rights Violators Unit and legal counsel. They met with the three partners in Canada's War Crimes Program, who made presentations on the program.

In early October 2003, the Unit held a three-day meeting with officials from the War Crimes Team of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the United Kingdom. They were just starting a new war crimes program and were very interested in the unit's information systems, as well as Canada's success in investigating and removing war criminals. They also met with DOJ and RCMP officials.

In December 2003, CIC was one of several federal government conveners, together with DOJ, DFAIT and CIDA, of an International Conference on War Crimes at York University, called "Searching for Justice: Comprehensive Action in the face of atrocities". The objective was to share experiences, increase understanding of the difficult issues involved, and discuss responses to deal with perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Further information is available at http://www.yorku.ca/remedies/englishindex.htm.

In January 2004, several U.S. officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Human Rights Violators Unit visited Ottawa to gather more detailed information about Canada's War Crimes Program and hold working level discussions with CBSA and CIC on operational issues and information sharing.

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Special Activities

Group Processing Pilot

CBSA's Modern War Crimes Unit has provided security screening support for CIC's new approach to refugee resettlement. In 2003, CIC initiated the Group Processing Pilot in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This project focused on entire refugee populations, mostly Sudanese and Somalis from a refugee camp in Kenya, rather than selecting individual refugees. Considered vulnerable, these groups were destined to the same communities in Canada, and were to benefit from maintaining ties with family and friends they had known in the camps.

In November 2003, the first group of 47 arrived in their new homes in Canada. By the end of March 2004, a total of 412 refugees had arrived in Canada under the pilot project. Another 500 were expected to arrive after March 31, 2004. The Modern War Crimes Unit will continue to provide screening support as new groups are selected.

Haiti

As a result of the Haitian crisis in February 2004, CBSA reacted quickly to prevent potentially inadmissible persons from coming to Canada, entering the names of former cabinet ministers, senior officials and security chiefs in the computer look-out system. One such person was intercepted on arrival in Canada and was later extradited to face charges in the United States. By the end of March 2004, the Modern War Crimes Unit was asked to research and provide information on 344 individuals who may have been involved in crimes against humanity or held positions of authority in previous governments. Review of these cases is continuing.

Prevention Abroad

Preventing people involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity from coming to Canada in the first place has proven the most effective way of denying refuge to those who have committed atrocities. Canadian visa officials must constantly update their knowledge of events and activities in the regions they serve, in order to be sensitive to the potential of war criminals among applicants. In some areas, they need to examine most cases closely for the possibility of war crimes.

During the fiscal year of 2003-2004, visa officials prevented a total of 242 persons from coming to Canada because of allegations of war crimes or crimes against humanity. This includes those refused specifically for possible involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity, those who withdrew when asked for more information and those who were investigated for allegations of war crimes but were refused for other reasons.

Canadian missions abroad investigated a total of 2300 potential war crimes cases, resulting in the refusal or withdrawal of more than 10%. Visa offices identify potential war crimes cases through security screening and refer many of them to CBSA's Modern War Crimes Unit. Analysts with geographic expertise provide analysis and recommendations on immigrant cases. Visa officers abroad concluded the review of 331 immigrant applicants for possible involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity. As a result, 44 persons considered involved in war crimes or atrocities were refused visas to immigrate to Canada or withdrew their applications.

Temporary resident applications from countries where conflict or human rights abuses are a concern are sent to the unit's Visitor Information Transmission (VITs) analysts. In fiscal year 2003-2004, the VITs section handled 1969 temporary resident applications (including student and temporary worker applications), over 50% more than the previous year. During the year, 198 alleged war criminals were refused temporary resident visas or withdrew their applications.

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Enforcement Action in Canada

If a potential war criminal manages to enter Canada or is identified as already living in Canada, CBSA officials take the appropriate enforcement action. These cases include persons in the refugee claims process, the immigration process, the citizenship process or Canadian citizens who hid their past activities when they immigrated to Canada.

Potential war crimes cases in Canada may be identified through examination at ports of entry or through the refugee protection claims process. Officials also receive allegations from immigrant and refugee communities in Canada, identifying persons in Canada who may have committed atrocities in their homeland. As well, intelligence and war crimes partners, including DOJ, the RCMP, and CSIS, refer cases requiring immigration enforcement action to the Modern War Crimes Unit. If a case involves a Canadian citizen, it can be referred to CIC for revocation of citizenship. In the event of revocation, it is then referred to CBSA to initiate the deportation process.

Persons claiming refugee protection must first complete a Personal Information Form (PIF). After September 11, 2001, a decision was made to begin front-end screening of refugee claimants, by screening all PIFs for security concerns as well as for possible war crimes or crimes against humanity. Those PIFs which raise concerns about possible war crimes are referred for a second, in-depth review. The increased screening, combined with a surge in refugee protection claims leading up to the implementation of IRPA in June 2002, resulted in an increased investigative workload in the following year. During 2003-2004, a total of 2680 refugee claimant cases were reviewed for possible war crimes or crimes against humanity, leaving an inventory of 883 claims under investigation at the end of March 2004.

If CBSA's investigation shows that a person is likely to have been involved in war crimes, a hearings officer representing the Minister of PSEPC (responsible for CBSA) intervenes in the refugee hearing before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to argue for exclusion from refugee protection. If the RPD member finds that the person has been complicit in war crimes, the member will exclude the person from refugee protection. Refugee claimants are given a conditional removal order, which becomes effective if the person is not granted protection.

During the fiscal year, CBSA hearings officers filed 387 interventions before the RPD based on allegations of war crimes. During the same period, CBSA received a total of 308 decisions from the RPD in cases where CBSA had intervened to seek exclusion based on war crimes concerns. These included: exclusions of 63 refugee claimants for war crimes; 107 decisions to refuse refugee status, although the persons were not excluded for war crimes; rulings that 61 individuals, where there was an allegation of involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity, had withdrawn or abandoned their claims; and finally, granting of refugee status to 77 persons.

CBSA officials also investigate allegations of war crimes against persons who are not refugee claimants, including temporary or permanent residents or applicants for permanent resident status or citizenship in Canada. If CBSA finds sufficient evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, the person is reported and taken to an admissibility hearing before the IRB's Immigration Division (ID). The ID member may find the person inadmissible for war crimes or crimes against humanity and issue a removal order. During the fiscal year, eight admissibility hearings were opened before the Immigration Division.

In 2003-2004, 44 persons considered war criminals were removed from Canada. Removal may be delayed for a number of reasons, including court proceedings, problems obtaining a travel document, or a moratorium on removals to that country because of war or serious civil conflict. As of March 31, 2004, there were 145 unexecuted removal orders, down from the previous year's cumulative total of 183.

When a person does not report for removal or for other immigration proceedings, an arrest warrant is issued under IRPA. During the fiscal year, 27 new warrants for arrest were issued. During the same period, 13 warrants were executed. Of the warrants executed this year, four were new warrants issued during the same year, while the others were issued in previous years. Three of the persons arrested during the fiscal year have been removed from Canada (two during 2003-2004, and one in April 2004). For some, removal arrangements were pending at the end of the fiscal year. Two of the warrants executed were issued, not for removal, but because the persons did not appear for immigration proceedings, and with their arrest, the proceedings could continue. Three warrants were considered executed, because CBSA had confirmation that two individuals were in the U.S. and one had been deported from the U.S. One warrant was cancelled for administrative reasons, in order to issue a new warrant.

In 2004, CBSA war crimes officials at National Headquarters and in the regional offices conducted a thorough file review of all the outstanding cases in their inventory where warrants were issued and adjusted the inventory so that outstanding warrants properly reflect concerns involving war crimes. For example, warrants issued in cases that initially raised war crimes concerns no longer belong in the war crimes inventory if the persons are now failed refugee claimants, but were not excluded or found inadmissible because of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

At the end of March 2004, the cumulative total of outstanding warrants issued in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity was 125. Of these cases, 70% were found to be involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity; that is, they were excluded from refugee protection by the IRB because of war crimes or crimes against humanity or were found inadmissible for war crimes or crimes against humanity at an admissibility hearing. The remaining 30% were alleged to have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity, but this has not yet been established, because they did not complete immigration proceedings. For example, if CBSA filed a request for intervention with the IRB and the person did not appear for a hearing, the IRB ruled that the person had withdrawn or abandoned the refugee claim. Nevertheless, the war crimes concern still exists.

Of the outstanding warrants, 29 were issued even before the War Crimes Program received funding in 1998 to establish War Crimes Units. In approximately 10 of the outstanding warrant cases, CBSA officials believe that the persons have already left Canada, but the warrants remain active in the event that they try to re-enter Canada. As previously reported, one person is serving a lengthy prison sentence, and the warrant will be executed when he is released from prison.

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Summary of CBSA's/CIC's Activities

Since the Modern War Crimes Program began, a total of 2608 persons complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity have been prevented from coming to Canada. CBSA/CIC has intervened at the IRB in 1415 cases, and the IRB has excluded 445 from refugee protection. A total of 325 persons complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity have been removed from Canada to date.

CBSA's focused approach on war crimes and crimes against humanity strengthens Canada's ability to prevent persons involved in war crimes from coming to Canada, to deny a safe haven to those seeking protection, and to remove those who are already in Canada.

CBSA continues to improve information technology systems and research capability to identify and track war criminals and human rights violators.

CBSA continues to work closely with CIC, DOJ, and RCMP to identify, investigate and take action against persons involved in crimes against humanity. CBSA also contributes to Canada's support for international tribunals and commitment to combating war crimes. Canada's War Crimes Program is a widely respected model for other countries establishing their own war crimes programs.

ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE

Canada's national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), is responsible for enforcing all federal statutes, including the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. The RCMP War Crimes Section in Ottawa assigns full-time police investigators to World War II and Modern War Crimes cases. Support for the Section is provided by RCMP forensic laboratories as well as RCMP personnel stationed throughout Canada and abroad.

The RCMP responds to allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity from victims, witnesses, foreign governments, ethnic communities, NGOs, open source information as well as allegations which may have come to light through refugee, immigration and citizenship applications. The RCMP also conducts investigations to support citizenship revocation proceedings. For complaints where there is insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution, the RCMP provides the information to the CBSA, to use in seeking exclusion from refugee protection and removal from Canada of suspects.

The RCMP coordinates assistance involving other Canadian police forces, foreign police forces and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

World War II cases

Since 1996, the RCMP has cooperated closely with the DOJ Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section in investigating suspects alleged to have committed war crimes / crimes against humanity during World War II. Working together, they use archival research by DOJ historians, confirm the presence of suspects in Canada and develop initial witness lists. Working with DOJ counsel, members of the RCMP War Crimes Section arrange and conduct witness interview trips, mainly to central and eastern Europe, with the assistance of foreign governments and police officials under bilateral Memoranda of Understanding. The investigation results are then reviewed by DOJ counsel and RCMP investigators to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges. If not, a further analysis of the evidence is conducted and, if warranted, revocation of citizenship and / or deportation proceedings are initiated.

Modern War Crimes / Crimes against Humanity

With respect to modern war crimes and crimes against humanity, the RCMP currently maintains an inventory of approximately 94 complaints involving allegations from: Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Burundi, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia & Montenegro, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Sudan. During this reporting period, the RCMP conducted numerous overseas investigations in some of these countries.

The significant challenges in conducting modern war crimes and crimes against humanity investigations include distances from Canada, length of time elapsed since commission of the offences, national borders and linguistic barriers. While information can be derived from archives with respect to WW II investigations, the same cannot be said for crimes of more recent origin. Some of the suspects were not part of formally structured organizations and may have operated in specific locations for very limited periods. With little documentary evidence of these atrocities, investigators need to find witnesses who can identify the perpetrators and describe the events. To do this, the RCMP has entered into special cooperation agreements with police departments and public offices in some of the countries where these witnesses live. There is an ongoing effort to conclude agreements with all countries where witnesses may be located, either for current or future investigations.

During the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the RCMP submitted the results of three completed investigations to the DOJ with its recommendations that these cases be presented to the Attorney General of Canada to seek his consent for prosecution.

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United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

International criminal investigations are a two-way street. The RCMP War Crimes Section provides assistance to foreign police and international law enforcement authorities such as the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The RCMP has an outstanding reciprocal relationship with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and provided assistance to the tribunal's investigators who visited Canada on three occasions in 2003-2004. In turn, the RCMP receives valuable logistical cooperation, including transportation and interpretation for all interviews while in Rwanda.

The RCMP cooperates on a regular basis with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. During the past year, the tribunal provided assistance to three RCMP research missions in The Hague.

Assistance to Foreign Law Enforcement Agencies

Foreign agencies are not permitted to conduct criminal investigations within Canada. If a foreign investigation, including war crimes, is traced to Canada, it is the RCMP's responsibility to conduct a Canadian investigation, often with the assistance of the representatives of the foreign law-enforcement agency.

The RCMP, with the assistance of an Italian War Crimes investigative team, conducted an investigation in Canada of an Italian war crimes case.

The RCMP conducted screening interviews for persons of interest to Polish authorities prior to the arrival of the Polish War Crimes investigative team to Canada.

International Meetings and Outreach

In March 2004, the RCMP and DOJ attended the First International Expert Meeting on War Crimes and Genocide, an INTERPOL-hosted conference in Lyon, France. With law enforcement and justice representatives from the U.S.A., South America, Europe, Asia and Africa, this conference gave delegates the opportunity to present an overview of their war crimes and crimes against humanity investigations and to share best practices. The RCMP was the only agency recognized at this conference for its exceptional cooperation and assistance in the development of other nations' war crimes investigations programs.

Members of the RCMP War Crimes Section made a presentation to Canadian peacekeepers before their deployment to Bosnia. The unit also gave presentations to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during their two visits to Canada.

As more European countries strengthen their enforcement of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity programs, the RCMP has found it very beneficial to open or enhance lines of communication with investigators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Britain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and the USA.

It is expected that the RCMP's involvement within the international response to war crimes and crimes against humanity will increase over the foreseeable future.

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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

The Department of Justice (DOJ) assists the federal government in developing policy and making and reforming laws as needed. The responsibilities of the DOJ reflect the double role of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney General of Canada. While the Minister is concerned with questions of policy and their relation to the justice system, the Attorney General is the chief law officer of the Crown.

DOJ strives for excellence in the practice of law. It is a leader in Canada and internationally and at the forefront of legal issues that are relevant to the daily lives of Canadians - issues such as human rights, public security, electronic government and bio-technology. As the Government of Canada's law firm, DOJ is mandated to provide legal advice to other branches of the Government, including the CBSA and the RCMP.

Under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, the Attorney General of Canada must consent to charges before they are laid. DOJ is represented at the Interdepartmental Operations Group by the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section, which is located in Ottawa. It is a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, historians, analysts, paralegals, legal assistants and support staff. DOJ has an inventory of files involving war crimes or crimes against humanity committed both during WWII and during modern times.

Modern War Crimes

The DOJ War Crimes Section supports the RCMP in their investigation of allegations under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. These investigations target individuals in Canada who are alleged to have participated in crimes against humanity or war crimes anywhere in the world. As of March 31, 2004, 85 files were being examined. During the year, the section continued to develop expertise to support modern investigations and litigation, with geographically centred teams working on a number of files.

During 2003-2004, DOJ's War Crimes lawyers travelled with RCMP officers to Europe and Africa to work on files. DOJ counsel provide legal advice to the RCMP throughout the investigations. A senior lawyer with expertise in immigration and international law continued to give legal advice on war crimes issues to CIC and CBSA and coordinate DOJ personnel supporting RCMP investigations of modern cases.

Senior officials from DOJ'S War Crimes Section travelled to South and Central America to discuss with local authorities the possibility of having the RCMP investigate allegations of modern war crimes and to facilitate the development of future files.

Near the end of the period, DOJ's War Crimes Section received a number of reports from the RCMP that are now being studied to determine whether further investigation is necessary and whether recommendations for legal action can be made.

World War II Program

In the World War II program, the War Crimes Section focuses on allegations that could lead to criminal prosecution or revocation of citizenship, in cooperation with CIC and CBSA. The passage of time makes this work more and more difficult.

The government pursues only those cases for which there is evidence of direct involvement or complicity in war crimes or crimes against humanity. A person may be considered complicit if the person is aware of the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity and contributes directly or indirectly to their occurrence. Membership in an organization responsible for committing the atrocities can be sufficient to establish complicity if the organization in question is one with a limited brutal purpose, such as a death squad.

Since beginning this work, DOJ has opened and examined over 1,700 files. As of March 2004, 59 WW II files were still under active investigation and 122 initial allegations were being examined. New allegations are still brought to the attention of the section regularly. During the fiscal year 2003/2004, DOJ completed 65 investigations on active files. In effect, 1,564 files have been declared inactive or closed since the beginning of the WWII Program.

Files are concluded for a number of reasons. Some allegations are concluded because the individuals are found never to have entered Canada. In some cases, individuals are found to have simply left Canada. Many are concluded because the individuals subject to the allegations have died. Others have been concluded due to a lack of evidence.

Since 1995, the government has initiated 21 revocation and deportation cases, resulting in eight successful denaturalization cases before the Federal Court of Canada (Bogutin, Katriuk, Kisluk, Oberlander, Odynsky, Baumgartner, Fast and Obodzinsky). In two other cases (Csatary, Maciukas), the respondents did not contest the proceedings. Their citizenship was revoked and they left the country voluntarily. Defendants have been successful in three cases before the Federal Court of Canada (Vitols, Dueck and Podins). In six cases, suspects passed away during the course of the legal proceedings (Bogutin, Kenstavicius, Tobiass, Nemsila, Nebel and Kisluk).

Two new citizenship revocation cases, Skomatczuk and Furman, began before the Federal Court in 2003-2004. Federal Court proceedings continue in the Michael Seifert case, who is also the object of an extradition proceeding. These cases are detailed in Appendix 1. During 2003-2004, the Federal Court, Trial Division, rendered decisions in two citizenship revocation cases (Obodzinsky and Fast), described in Appendix 1.

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Support to the International Criminal Tribunals and Foreign Governments

DOJ's War Crimes Section continues to strengthen its working relationship with the International Tribunals and European governments by meeting frequently with their representatives.

DOJ's War Crimes Section is also actively involved in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Working Group which examines the tribunal's requests for information or access to witnesses located in Canada.

The International Assistance Group (IAG) of the Department of Justice Federal Prosecution Service works with the RCMP and the Department of National Defence to support the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. IAG also reviews war crimes related requests for mutual legal assistance from foreign governments, and from the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the International Criminal Court.

Outreach

In December 2003, DOJ's War Crimes Section organized a conference titled From Historical Facts to Legal Evidence that included non-governmental organizations, other partners in Canada's War Crimes Program and delegates of other countries facing similar challenges in investigating and prosecuting war crimes. The participants shared information on criminal, immigration and extradition legislation, as well as legislation or powers enabling the states to provide assistance to the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court. They stressed the challenges of investigating crimes committed in places such as Afghanistan or Rwanda.

A member of the section also participated in the Ethics Project at the European Institute. The Project was designed to bring together individuals from all over the world to share knowledge about the International Criminal Court's role in combating impunity. DOJ's War Crimes representative made a presentation about Canada's War Crimes Program which was well received by all participants.

Members of the section also took part in other domestic and international conferences to share and gain knowledge on the struggle to combat impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes. They gave presentations as part of discussions of Canada's War Crimes Program and international law at various universities. Lawyers and historians from the section work with international criminal tribunals to share or acquire expertise. The section continued its dialogue on the War Crimes Program with non-governmental organizations and other interest groups.

Conclusion

DOJ's continued work with its program partners is an important part of Canada's efforts, at home and abroad, to combat impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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APPENDIX 1

CASE SAMPLES: 2003 - 2004

Modern Cases

A citizen of Liberia applied for refugee resettlement at a Canadian mission overseas. The application was referred to CBSA's War Crimes unit for investigation of possible crimes against humanity. The applicant referred to his involvement with the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia - Kromah branch (ULIMO-K), which was responsible for human rights abuses during Liberia's civil war, including raids, torture, massacres and abductions of civilians. Although he gave vague answers to questions about his membership, the War Crimes Unit noted that his movements were consistent with ULIMO-K activities during the periods described and that it was likely that he was complicit in crimes against humanity. The application was refused in September 2003.

A citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo applied for refugee resettlement at a Canadian mission abroad. He said that, while working for the Congolese government, he was forced to join the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD-Goma). After the group splintered, he joined RCD-National. He learned that the group was abducting children to be trained as child soldiers and claimed that he tried to remedy the situation, which caused him problems. Recommending a finding of inadmissibility for war crimes, the CBSA's War Crimes unit cited his senior positions and length of time in two organizations involved in atrocities. The application was refused in March 2004.

A citizen of Pakistan made a refugee claim stating that he was a member of the MQMH (Mohajir Qaumi Movement Haqiqi), a political party of Pakistan and arranged musical entertainment at their rallies. The Minister's representative intervened at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) hearing in December 2003, citing sections 1F(a) and 1F(c) of Article 1 of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The RPD Member found that the MQMH was an organization with limited brutal purpose, that the claimant had full knowledge of the atrocities attributed to the MQMH, and that he had the opportunity to dissociate himself from the party, but did not. The Member found that he was excluded from the refugee definition by virtue of Article 1F(a) and 1F(c). The rest of the family were found not to be Convention refugees or in need of protection.

A citizen of Afghanistan claimed refugee status at Pearson International Airport in 2001. In 1978 he joined the Hezb-i-Islami, the largest of the Afghan Mujahideen groups that opposed the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. He was eventually appointed to a senior position and, as a member of the organization's executive committee, reported directly to the leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was involved in political and military affairs and weapons procurement and distribution. During Afghanistan's long and violent civil war, Hezb-i-Islami was responsible for civilian deaths, human rights violations and the destruction of much of Kabul. His claim was suspended in order to send him to an admissibility hearing, where he was issued a deportation order based on terrorism and war crimes. Because of these grounds of inadmissibility, his refugee claim was determined to be ineligible to be referred to the RPD. His removal occurred on May 6, 2003.

A citizen of Sri Lanka arrived in Toronto in February 1993 and made a claim to Convention refugee status. He was determined to be a refugee in September 1993 by the Convention Refugee Determination Division. He was a member of the Reserved Police Constabulary of Sri Lanka, and later joined the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF), where he served as a Platoon Commander of the Citizen Voluntary Force. He said that he took part in approximately 2000 interrogations and admitted to being personally involved in the torture of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) prisoners. Extensive evidence exists with regard to human rights abuses committed by the IPKF against suspected LTTE members in Sri Lanka. On appeal by the Minister, his refugee status was vacated in September 1998 and he was excluded pursuant to Article 1F(a) of the U.N. Convention for complicity in crimes against humanity. His humanitarian and compassionate application was subsequently denied, as the Minister's Delegate determined that the individual would not be at risk if returned to Sri Lanka. The Federal Court of Canada allowed the person's application for judicial review of the humanitarian and compassionate decision and the original decision was quashed. The humanitarian and compassionate review was redone, again finding that he would not be at risk if returned to Sri Lanka. In November 2003, he waived the Pre-removal Risk Assessment. He was removed from Canada in December 2003.

A citizen of Romania sought refugee protection in Canada, stating in his claim that he had been a victim of death threats and attacked because of his political opinions. The Minister's representative intervened at the hearing before the Refugee Protection Division, stating that the claimant was an officer in the Special Antiterrorism Unit (USLA), a branch of the brutal and repressive Securitate. He had never tried to leave this organization, known for such activities as political assassinations, psychiatric imprisonment of opponents, and the use of Arab students who belonged to terrorist organizations to commit crimes against Romanian exiles. The panel was of the opinion that his USLA membership alone was sufficient to exclude him and that as an officer and a lawyer, he must have known of the activities of the USLA and its link to the Securitate. In December 2003, the panel determined that he was excluded under paragraphs 1(F)(a) and (c) of the Convention and was not a Convention refugee or in need of protection.

A citizen of India made a refugee protection claim in Canada, alleging that he had been tortured as a member of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) a banned organization under India's Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance of 2001. The RPD noted that the claimant was still a senior member of SIMI, a terrorist group that aimed to establish an Islamic state through inciting communal violence, forced conversions, and planting bombs which killed civilians. In December 2003, the RPD found him excluded under paragraphs 1(F)(a) and (c) of the Convention by virtue of his involvement in SIMI, which was responsible for crimes against humanity.

A citizen of Chad claimed refugee protection in Canada. During his 25-year army career, he was a medical doctor attached to a military hospital, where he cared for prisoners who had been tortured. He did not deny that torture was common in the prisons, and stated that he was not concerned about the injured prisoners' condition when sending them back to prison. The RPD found that he had full knowledge of the torture of detainees by the military, did nothing to stop it and made no attempt to leave the army. In March 2004, the RPD determined that he was excluded from the refugee definition by virtue of paragraphs (F)(a) and 1F(c) of the Convention.

A citizen of Iraq applied for judicial review of the decision of the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB that he was not a Convention refugee as well as the decision to exclude him under paragraph 1(F)(a) of the Convention. The applicant had held senior positions for 22 years in the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. The Federal Court upheld the IRB's decision to exclude the applicant based on the fact that he had occupied positions of trust in the Iraqi regime, which had a limited, brutal purpose, that he had knowledge of activities committed by the regime which constituted crimes against humanity, and that, during many years, he had never taken any action to prevent such activities or to dissociate himself. On January 4, 2004, his application was denied.

A citizen of Haiti was intercepted on arrival in Canada in March 2004 on a flight from the Dominican Republic. He had a temporary residence visa issued in 2002 and had also been given consent to return to Canada, where he had previously made a refugee claim and been ordered deported. The individual was formerly a Haitian president's security chief and would have been involved in crimes against humanity. He was reported for inadmissibility under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) for crimes against humanity and drug-related organized criminal activity. Detained for an admissibility hearing, he was then extradited to the United States, where he was wanted for drug trafficking.

World War II Cases1 :

Walter Obodzinsky: Mr. Obodzinsky was served with a Notice of Intent to Revoke Citizenship in August 1999. He then requested that the matter be referred to the Federal Court - Trial Division for adjudication pursuant to the Citizenship Act. A Statement of Claim was served on the defendant on February 1, 2000. On September 18, 2003, the Federal Court - Trial Division ruled that Mr. Obodzinsky obtained Canadian citizenship by misleading Canadian officials about his World War II activities. The Court ruled that while the evidence did not establish that Mr. Obodzinsky personally killed Jews, partisans or other civilians, it did establish that he was an accomplice in the perpetration of atrocities committed during the German occupation of Belarus.

Jacob Fast: Mr. Jacob Fast was served with a Notice of Intent to Revoke Citizenship on September 30, 1999. Mr. Fast requested that the matter be referred to the Federal Court - Trial Division for adjudication pursuant to the Citizenship Act. A Statement of Claim was served on Mr. Fast's counsel on March 7, 2000. On October 3, 2003, the Federal Court - Trial Division ruled that Mr. Fast obtained his citizenship by failing to reveal his German citizenship when applying to come to Canada in 1947. The Court also found that Mr. Fast had collaborated with the German Security Police responsible for the enforcement of the racial policies of the German Reich.

Jura Skomatczuk: Mr. Skomatczuk was served with a Notice of Intent to Revoke Citizenship in November 2003. Following his request to refer his case to the Federal Court, a Statement of Claim was served on March 3, 2004. The proceedings are ongoing. It is alleged that he obtained his citizenship through deceit by hiding his wartime activities when he was landed in Canada in 1952. It is alleged that, in 1943, he served as a guard in the German concentration camp guard system.

Josef Furman: Mr Furman was served with a Notice of Intent to Revoke Citizenship in November 2003. Following his request to refer his case to the Federal Court, a Statement of Claim was served on March 17, 2004. The proceedings are ongoing. It is alleged that he obtained his citizenship through deceit by hiding his wartime activities when he was landed in Canada in July 1949. It is alleged that he served until the end of WWII in the German concentration camp system after training at the SS Trawniki Traning Camp in 1943.

Michael Seifert: Mr. Seifert was served with a Notice of Intent to Revoke Citizenship on August 23, 2001. He requested that the matter be referred to the Federal Court. It is alleged that Mr. Seifert obtained his Canadian citizenship improperly by failing to reveal to the Canadian immigration authorities his service as a guard at a German police transit camp in Northern Italy in 1944-1945. In November 2000, Michael Seifert was found guilty by an Italian Military Tribunal of charges of accessory to acts of violence with murder against civilian enemies and aggravated and continuing violence while he was a guard at the Bolzano camp in Italy. This decision was later upheld on appeal. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Italian government thereafter filed an extradition request to Canada. This matter is also ongoing.

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APPENDIX 2

Summary of World War II Program Activity

Litigation Overview - Case Results
Revocation Cases
Revocation references ongoing in Federal Court 3 Furman, Skomatchuk, Furman
Decisions rendered by Federal Court in favour of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration since 1995 8 (Bogutin*, Katriuk, Kisluk*, Oberlander, Odynsky, Baumgartner, Obodzinsky and Fast)

Deportation

Before the Adjudication Division, Immigration and Refugee Board (Immigration Inquiry) (1) (Oberlander)
World War II Cases Concluded
Removed or left Canada voluntarily 2 (Csatary, Maciukas)
Successful defence by Respondent/Defendant 3 (Dueck, Podins, Vitols)
Deceased during proceedings before decision rendered 4 (Kenstavicius, Tobiass, Nemsila, Nebel)
Total cases since 1995 20  
Pre 1995 - citizenship revoked, person deported 1 Luitjens

*indicates deceased

Inventory of World War II Cases
Allegations
Allegation received, initial checks and surveys being undertaken 122
Active Files
Development Stage 59
Proceedings ongoing (Federal Court & Immigration and Refugee Board) 4 (Seifert, Furman, Skomatczuk and Oberlander)
Federal Court decisions in favour of the Minister - at various stages of revocation process 5 (Odynsky, Katriuk, Baumgartner, Obodzinsky, Fast)
Total Active Files 68
Inactive Files
Membership only 160
Insufficient evidence to support commencement of proceedings 66
Suspect not in Canada 52
Investigative checks and surveys negative 111
Total Inactive Files 389
Closed Files
Total Closed Files 1,109
Total Inventory 1,688

APPENDIX 3

Results
Year Entries prevented Exclusions Removals Interventions in RPD hearings MWC cases concluded
1997/98 34 165 80 24 477
1998/99 307 25 27 58 1620
1999/00 581 15 38 127 3039
2000/01 644 53 42 227 4246
2001/02 445 51 46 350 3983
2002/03 355 73 48 242 2406
2003/04 242 63 44 387 5040
Total 2608 445 325 1415 20811

Summary of CBSA's Modern War Crimes Program

Explanatory Notes:

1997/98: Data include all activities up to and including that fiscal year.

Entries prevented: Applications refused abroad under 35(1)(a) or (b) of IRPA (or before June 28, 2002, under 19(1)(j) or (l) of The Immigration Act), cases investigated for war crimes, but refused on other grounds, or withdrawals

Exclusions: Exclusion by the IRB from refugee protection in Canada under Article 1(F)(a) of the Convention

Removals: Persons removed from Canada

Interventions in RPD hearings: Cases in which the CBSA/CIC Minister intervened at hearings of the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB

MWC cases concluded: Number of alleged war crimes cases investigated for war crimes concerns and concluded during the fiscal year, both in visa offices abroad and in Canada (For this fiscal year, the number includes cases referred for second-level PIF review.)

Inventory 1997/98 1998/99 1999/00 2000/01 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04
Cases under investigation abroad 51 45 125 300 170 357 597
Refugee cases under investigation in Canada 3 9 363 311 292 150 883
Non-refugee cases under investigation in Canada 82 71 135 208 205 125 115

Explanatory Notes

Inventory: Cases remaining under investigation at the end of the fiscal year

Cases under investigation abroad: Overseas cases being reviewed for war crimes allegations

Refugee cases under investigation in Canada: For this fiscal year, includes cases referred for second-level PIF review

Non-refugee cases under investigation in Canada: Includes foreign nationals in Canada who have not made refugee claims, permanent or temporary residents, applicants for permanent residence or Canadian citizenship

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APPENDIX 4

Designated regimes pursuant to paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

  • designated 16 June 1993: the Bosnian Serb regime from 27 March 1992 until 10 October 1996;
  • designated 12 October 1993: the Siad Barré regime in Somalia between 1969 and 1991;
  • designated 8 April 1994: the former military governments in Haiti between 1971 and 1986, and between 1991and 1994 except the period August - December 1993;
  • designated 21 October 1994: the former Marxist regimes of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992;
  • designated 3 September 1996: the governments of Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein in power since 1968;
  • designated 27 April 1998: the government of Rwanda under President Habyarimana between October 1990 and April 1994, as well as the interim government in power between April 1994 and July 1994;
  • designated 30 June 1999, amended 14 March 2001: the governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia (Milosevic) between February 28, 1998, and October 7, 2000;
  • designated 14 March 2001: the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from September 27, 1996.
  • designated November 21, 2003: the government of Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam for the period of September 12, 1974 to May 21, 1991.

1 Information as of March 31, 2004.