Canada's Program on Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes - 2011–2015: 13th Report

Ongoing International Co-operation and Outreach

The individuals who support the War Crimes Program participate in numerous co-operative and outreach activities. These activities promote the sharing of information and best practices and preserve strong, reciprocal relationships between the Government of Canada, other countries, international tribunals and governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. The benefits of these activities are significant; by sharing logistical and investigative resources, Canada increases its capacity to deny war criminals safe haven and to demand accountability for their crimes.

Canadian missions abroad have ongoing relationships with host countries, other diplomatic missions, international organizations and criminal tribunals. These relationships facilitate the monitoring of overall migration trends; Canadian missions abroad regularly participate in meetings on the subject of migration and human rights. Additionally, international co-operation is essential in order to conduct investigations into war crimes matters. This is often because war crimes have occurred in conflict zones where information is difficult to acquire. Furthermore, a level of cooperation between Canada and the state involved is almost always necessary in order to access government officials, locate and interview witnesses and victims, etc.

Throughout the reporting period, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Justice also engaged and educated a variety of audiences about elements of the War Crimes Program. These audiences included other governmental departments, domestic and international law enforcement agencies and students. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Justice gave presentations about the techniques and challenges of investigations into war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; cultural diversity encountered during the investigations process; negotiation procedures used to facilitate collaboration with officials in other countries; and the War Crimes Program itself. Officials from the Department of Justice also wrote and published articles about war crimes issues in academic journals and delivered guest lectures and seminars at high schools, community organizations and universities in Canada and abroad (including in Tanzania and the United Kingdom and at the United Nations in New York).

Capacity-building activities have been a particular focus of counsel from the Department of Justice. At the request of the government of Senegal, a counsel was seconded to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Extraordinary African Chambers for Chad to help set up that office and initiate the prosecution of former President Hissene Habre of Chad and others. The same counsel headed a Canadian-funded project that published the first compendium of lessons learned and suggested practices from the Offices of the Prosecutors from various International Tribunals.

Domestic and international partners can request support and information on war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide cases from the War Crimes Program. Requests for information are typically tracked by each program partner, and both internal and external requests regarding cases believed to involve war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide continue to increase.

War crimes units from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom work closely with the Canada Border Services Agency under the Four Country Conference Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Respect to Investigations Relating to Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, signed in April 2007. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also mandated to assist partner agencies in other countries on cases that involve war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. This assistance can involve locating witnesses and suspects, taking statements and providing intelligence requested by international partners. To carry out this mandate, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police collaborates with the Department of Justice. Members of war crimes units from these countries and others have sent their experts to provide lectures and training to Canada’s War Crimes Program partners.

The Department of Justice also assists the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators by submitting requests for access to witnesses to other countries and international tribunals. The results of these requests support ongoing investigations that may lead to criminal charges in Canada or the revocation of citizenship and deportation.

Analysts and historians from the Department of Justice also use archives located around the world to search for documents relevant to Canadian cases.

Training is an ongoing and important activity of the War Crimes Program. As part of the Canada Border Services Agency’s commitment to the Program, the Operations Branch’s Security Intelligence Section held a three-day workshop in the spring of 2014. All four partner departments and agencies, as well as international partners, participated.

During the workshop, specialized training was given to Canada Border Services Agency personnel. The objective of this training was to provide an overview of the War Crimes Program, including its legal foundations and recent court decisions related to the interpretation of section 35 (human and international rights violators) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Another objective of the workshop was to strengthen Canada Border Services Agency personnel’s knowledge base and skill set for duties connected with the War Crimes Program, such as the screening of individuals who may be of concern under section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Best practices and lessons learned in the field of information sharing among Canada Border Services Agency colleagues, other governmental departments, international partners and non-governmental community experts were discussed in order to raise awareness among the participants. The workshop also strengthened relationship- building and cooperation with the War Crimes Program’s international partners. Lastly, the potential to further develop networks for war crimes-related information sharing was discussed both within Canada and internationally (the Five Country Conference and other like-minded countries in the European Union). The workshop was deemed a success in meeting its objectives by participants and organizers.

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