Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program


This document presents the results of the evaluation of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program (the Program). The report is organized as follows:

  • Section 1 provides an overview of the Program;
  • Section 2 outlines the research methods used for the evaluation;
  • Section 3 presents the evaluation findings; and
  • Section 4 provides the evaluation conclusions and recommendations.

1.1. Program Profile

In March 1987, the federal government responded to the Report of the Commission of Enquiry on War Criminals (1985) by announcing that those alleged to have been involved in the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity [1] would be subject to criminal prosecution or revocation of citizenship and deportation. Subsequently the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) set up war crimes units for the investigation of alleged war criminals. In 1998, the federal government established a coordinated Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, involving DOJ and the RCMP, as well as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). In December 2003, the majority of the modern war crimes activities and corresponding resources of CIC were transferred to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Resources for the Program were earmarked in the fiscal framework pursuant to the 2005 Federal Budget at a total of $78 million for a period of five years (2005/06 to 2009/10).[2]

Program Purpose

The purpose of the Program is to support Canada's policy to deny safe haven to suspected war criminals and to contribute to the domestic and international fight against impunity. The Program also aims to reflect the government's commitment to international justice, respect for human rights, and strengthened border security. To meet this over-arching goal, resources have been invested toward the objectives as stated in the Program Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) and summarized in Table 1.[3]

Program Objectives

  • Operational Objectives
    • To risk manage a large overseas workload to target and then identify and prevent the admission of persons involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide;
    • To detect at the earliest possible opportunity, war criminals who are in Canada and to take steps to prevent them from obtaining status or citizenship;
    • To revoke the status or citizenship of individuals involved or complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide who are in Canada and to remove them from Canada; and,
    • To examine all allegations of war crimes suspects in Canada and, where appropriate, to investigate and prosecute them.
  • Coordination Objectives
    • To ensure all allegations are addressed and to apply the appropriate remedy in each case;
    • To put in place measures to manage the inventory of modern cases; and
    • To increase Canada's intelligence capacity.

There are several remedies available to deal with alleged war criminals and persons who are suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity. These remedies are:

  1. Screening and denial of visas to persons outside of Canada;
  2. Denial of access (ineligibility) to Canada's refugee determination system;[4]
  3. Exclusion from the protection of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees;
  4. Prosecution in Canada under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (CAHWCA);
  5. Extradition to a foreign government (upon request);
  6. Surrender to an International Tribunal;
  7. Revocation of citizenship and deportation;
  8. Inquiry and removal[5] from Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); and
  9. Denial of status to senior officials from designated governments considered to have engaged in gross human rights violations under 35(1)(b) of the IRPA.

The decision to use one or more of these mechanisms is based on: the different requirements of the courts in criminal and immigration/refugee cases to substantiate and verify evidence; the resources available to conduct the proceedings; the likelihood of success of a given remedy; and Canada's obligations under international law.[6]

1.2. Program Governance

Senior officials from each department or agency share responsibility for managing the Program through the War Crimes Steering Committee and the War Crimes Program Coordination and Operations Committee (PCOC).

The War Crimes Steering Committee meets on an ad hoc basis to examine the Program with a view to ensure that its tenets are concordant with objectives, both within each Program partners' department and within wider government policy. The Steering Committee is composed of senior managers at the level of Assistant Deputy Minister or equivalent.

At the operational level, PCOC consists of senior officials from each department who regularly meet to discuss policy, coordinate operations and assess allegations. In order to have the PCOC respond more effectively to these challenges, its mandate was expanded from the three original objectives - interdepartmental co-ordination, addressing all war crimes allegations and compliance with international obligations - to also include operational policy development, integrated planning and accountability functions.

1.3. Evaluation Objectives

The objectives of the evaluation are: to: determine the continued relevance of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program; assess the degree of success in achieving program objectives and report on results to date; and assess the cost effectiveness and determine whether there are more effective alternatives to the current design and delivery of the Program.

The detailed evaluation questions are presented in summary form in the relevant sub-sections of Section 3.0 on evaluation findings. The evaluation took place under the direction of the Evaluation Division of the DOJ between January and August 2008.

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