Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program


3.3. Program Success

  • To what extent has the Program contributed to increased knowledge and awareness among stakeholders?
  • Are allegations managed efficiently and effectively?
  • Does the Program continue to demonstrate Canadian leadership?
  • To what extent does the Program assist Canada in meeting international obligations?
  • To what extent has the Program deterred war criminals from coming to Canada?
  • To what extent has the Program met the objective of Canada's no safe haven policy?
  • What unintended impacts and effects have resulted from the Program?

3.3.1. Increased Knowledge and Awareness Among Stakeholders

Summary Findings

There is a striking difference in the perceived success of the Program in contributing to knowledge and awareness creation internationally and in Canada. International partner organizations and external advocacy and research organizations abroad are very familiar with, and can give examples of, the international activities of program staff. More importantly, they feel strongly that these activities have made an important contribution to raising and maintaining the profile of international efforts to deal effectively with those accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Interviewees, including departmental staff and external stakeholders, gave fewer examples of outreach activities in Canada. They felt that the level of domestic awareness should be higher and that the Program could do more to raise it. Further, there is a strong consensus among program staff at all levels that there is a rationale for more intensive outreach and awareness building activities, and that resources should be devoted to these activities.

Evaluation Evidence
International Stakeholders

The majority of interview respondents from international organizations commented that the Program had consistently made important contributions to international awareness of issues relating to crimes against humanity and war crimes. They gave many examples of international awareness-raising activities undertaken by program staff that they felt had been effective means for raising the international profile of war crimes issues and for developing international support to combat impunity:

  • Participating departments from the Program hosting conferences on war crimes issues (for example, the joint RCMP/Interpol International Expert Meeting on Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Ottawa in 2007);
  • Membership by program staff in international working groups on war crimes and crimes against humanity;
  • Attendance by program staff at international conferences where they have presented important findings on effective programming;
  • Providing support through training to war crimes units in other countries (for example, the mentoring program with Australia);
  • Presentations to officials in countries where war crimes have occurred in the past - to assist them in establishing or strengthening judicial and investigative processes;
  • Supporting the work of the ICC and other International Criminal Tribunals, especially by sharing information and responding to requests for case-specific intelligence;
  • Enacting and promoting specific legislation on crimes against humanity and war crimes and harmonizing national legislation with the Rome Statute; and
  • Creating the interdepartmental program and promoting this model as an effective means of addressing the issues of universal jurisdiction.

Interviewees from international partner organizations and university researchers from outside Canada indicated that the activities listed above were effective means for raising the international profile of war crimes issues and for developing international support to combat impunity.

One staff member of a European war crimes unit indicated that they looked to Canada to represent the North American perspective on global efforts to deal with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Another noted Canada has developed a reputation for high standards in conducting investigations and for being accessible to provide assistance to jurisdictions with less experience.

Stakeholders in Canada

Evaluation evidence on effectiveness of the Program in contributing to knowledge and awareness (including awareness of the Program itself) in a Canadian context is more equivocal.

Interviewees from participating departments, for example, are evenly split on the issue. One half of respondents commented that the Program has increased awareness through, for example, outreach activities to NGOs working with immigrant communities. The other half of respondents from program departments felt the Program had not contributed significantly to an increase in awareness in Canada and needed to do more. In particular they pointed to:

  • The need to more vigorously promote the achievements of the Program in denying safe haven through removals and by denying entry; and
  • The need for more outreach to communities to publicize the Program and its achievements.

External stakeholders in Canada were also of the view that more needs to be done to provide public education and outreach to community groups and NGOs if they are to make an effective contribution to the Program success and to the over-arching objective of denying safe haven.

Organizations representing victims of torture or specific immigrant communities from countries where crimes against humanity and war crimes have occurred felt their constituents could make an important contribution to identifying those involved who now reside in Canada. They stated that they believe their members would also be more willing and able to assist RCMP investigators by providing information or identifying witnesses if they were 1) more aware the Program existed, and 2) believed that the perpetrators of the crime would be sought out and either punished or removed from Canada.

The case on inquiry and removal under the IRPA revealed that such cases can be subjected to a high level of media scrutiny. One lesson noted in the case study was the value of fielding a communications team early in the process to provide effective and clear messages regarding the reasons for seeking extradition. This was especially important because some media were very critical of the fact that the case did not result in criminal prosecution. Reportedly, effective messaging resulted in more positive media coverage during the course of the case.

The media analysis confirmed that both Canadian and international media outlets focused considerable attention on high profile criminal cases, whether aimed at prosecution under the CAHWCAor at revocation of citizenship and removal from Canada. This analysis indicates that high profile cases pursued on behalf of the Program can play an important role in domestic awareness building.

Finally, when asked to comment on the adequacy of resources available to the Program for outreach and communications with the public, 56 percent of respondents in the survey of departmental staff indicated the resources available were inadequate.

3.3.2. Allegations Managed Efficiently and Effectively

Summary Findings

While opinions differ across the groups surveyed or interviewed, the most frequent observation is that allegations are managed reasonably effectively given the level of resources available to the Program. Very often respondents link the effectiveness of allegation management to financial and human resources. In essence, they often convey the message that the Program is doing reasonably well with the human and financial resources it has, but these are not sufficient.

The relative efficiency of remedies relating to denying visas or access to refugee status in comparison to revoking citizenship or prosecuting war criminals in Canada is seen by many interviewees as reason to give those remedies higher priority (but the same interviewees see the more complex and costly remedies, such as prosecution, as essential to the integrity of the Program).

Overall, there have been clearly identifiable improvements in the effectiveness of allegation management in the Program based mainly on improved coordination, better definition of priorities and clearer criteria (and processes) for assigning cases to appropriate remedies.

Evaluation Evidence

The RMAF for the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program defines allegation management as “the way in which the Program partners determine the disposition of individual cases.”[13]

The latest published data on the inventoryof allegations can be found in the Program's 9th Annual Report.

Table 7: Allegations and Open Case Files 2005/06
Department Type of Allegation/Activity Numbers in 2005/06
Dept. of Justice/RCMP Active Modern War Crimes Files (Under Investigation) 57[14] (10 files added in 2005/06)
Dept. of Justice/RCMP Active WWII Files 37
CIC/CBSA Cases Reviewed Abroad 3,024
CIC/CBSA Cases Reviewed in Canada 1,405
CIC/CBSA Inventory of Cases Under Investigation Abroad 639
CIC/CBSA Refugee Cases Under Investigation in Canada 346
CIC/CBSA Non-Refugee Cases under Investigation in Canada 27

Source: 9th Annual Report of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program. 2005/06

Program department staff were evenly divided on the extent to which allegations were managed efficiently and effectively at each step in the process (from screening and analysis to civil or criminal action). Half indicated that allegations were efficiently and effectively managed and, further, that the Program had improved significantly over the period from 2001 to 2008, mainly through:

  • More coordinated process at each step through the work of the PCOC and its file review sub-committee;
  • Clearer priority assigned to remedies as a result of the 2006 update of File Review Criteria;
  • Improved ability of the File Review Sub-Committee to select the most appropriate remedy and allocate cases to departmental action;
  • Increased effectiveness in carrying out removals each year;
  • Improved screening of visa applications abroad; and
  • Improved investigations by the RCMP and CBSA.

While not necessarily disagreeing with these improvements, the same number of respondents pointed to areas requiring improvement, including:

  • Reducing the time required for revocations of citizenship;
  • Improving the still relatively slow pace of removals;
  • Increasing both staff and financial resources for investigations and prosecutions; and
  • Increasing the small number of prosecutions of Modern War Crimes.

The pattern of responses was also mixed across the interviews with other federal departments, international partners and external stakeholders in Canada. Some respondents from other departments felt there was room for improvement in allegation management, mainly by placing even more emphasis on preventing entry as the priority remedy (they argued this point mainly from a cost effectiveness perspective). In contrast, a few respondents from other departments felt that allegations were being adequately managed, given the resource constraints of the Program and the labor intensive, costly and time-consuming nature of prosecution.

Most international partners and external stakeholders in Canada were unable to provide an informed response to questions on allegation management, since they were unfamiliar with how allegations are managed and had no knowledge of outcomes of the process.

At the same time, both international partners and external stakeholders in Canada (a few from each group) found the number and rate of criminal prosecutions disappointing. Although they appreciated that immigration remedies may be more cost effective, they felt Canada should make more use of prosecutions. In their view, relying on immigration remedies to such an extent, limits Canada's ability to play an effective part in combating impunity since those involved in war crimes will often not be prosecuted in the jurisdictions where they remain or to which they are returned.

One question on the survey directly addressed the criteria used to assess allegations and assign them to different remedies. When asked to rate the adequacy of criteria for assessing cases, 73 percent of program department respondents indicated they were adequate or very adequate with very little difference between the responses of headquarters unit staff and those of staff in the regions or posts abroad.

The survey also asked program department staff to rate the extent the Program had been successful in achieving some of the outcomes directly associated with effective allegation management (see Table 8). Respondents highlighted the relative success of the Program in securing immigration remedies, namely denial of visas for those suspected war criminals trying to enter Canada, and denying refugee status to those who were already resident. In contrast, they rated the Program's success in revoking citizenship, removing suspected war criminals to other countries and prosecuting them in Canada much less positively. Respondents based their more negative ratings of these remedies on the legal complexity and, hence, duration of the processes involved. The process flow diagrams presented in Appendix D illustrate clearly the complexity of the required processes for implementing the remedies that have been ranked as less successful.

Table 8: Survey Responses Relating to Success of Allegation Management (Q5)
Respondent rating of the Program success: To what extent has the Program been successful in: Somewhat or Very Successful Somewhat or Very Unsuccessful
Denying visas for suspected war criminals 89% 11%
Denying refugee status to suspected war criminals 90% 10%
Revoking the citizenship of war criminals 41% 60%
Removing war criminals from Canada 53% 47%
Prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes 46% 54%

While survey respondents rated success in allegation management at different levels for different remedies, they still have a positive view of the effectiveness of the Program as a whole. Over 74 percent of those responding were either somewhat or very satisfied with the Program as a response to the policy commitment to deny safe haven to war criminals in Canada.

Interviewees and survey respondents also indicated that one factor limiting the effectiveness of allegation management was a lack of human and financial resources. These observations are discussed in detail in Section 3.4.3 on program resources.

The case studies illustrate one of the important factors leading to the long duration and complexity of many cases (also illustrated in the process flow diagrams): the pursuit of multiple remedies for a single case as information is gathered and evidence compiled. Three of the four cases involved program staff initiating and managing processes for more than one remedy.

Criminal prosecution, for example, is pursued in parallel with immigration remedies such as denial of access to refugee determination. This is necessary because the decision to move forward to criminal prosecution may not take place until very late in the immigration remedy process. If the decision is made not to prosecute, the person concerned can be removed from Canada under the other remedies, only if a proper case has been prepared and has proceeded through the necessary steps. During the case on Inquiry and Removal under the IRPA, four different remedies were pursued at different times during the course of the case before the subject was finally removed.

3.3.3. Demonstrating Canadian Leadership

Summary Findings

Canada continues to demonstrate global leadership in identifying and publicizing this issue and in its development of a robust and effective legislative framework. Leadership is also demonstrated by the existence in Canada of a comprehensive, integrated interdepartmental program for dealing with war crimes and crimes against humanity. By maintaining a high level of international cooperation and by actively sharing information on the Program and its operations with international partners the Program demonstrates, on an international stage, the commitment of the Government of Canada to the no safe haven policy.

Evaluation Evidence
Identifying, Defining and Publicizing Issues

Staff of program departments and other federal departments (as they did for the 2001 evaluation) reported that Canada has continued to demonstrate leadership in identifying and publicizing issues related to war crimes through its ongoing involvement in international exchanges and its support of International Tribunals and foreign domestic programs established to deal with war crimes.

International partners and external stakeholders also report that the Canadian Program is seen as a leading voice promoting cooperation on war crimes issues.

In the last five years, delegations from Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, the US, and the UK have visited Ottawa to examine and discuss the Canadian program model. One respondent indicated that Canada had been an inspiration for establishing the Danish program and assisted in setting up their Special International Crimes Office. A respondent from Australia noted that the proposal put to the Australian government for a war crimes program was based on the Canadian model. In addition, Canadian program staff have been providing mentoring to war crimes unit staff in both Australia and New Zealand on immigration issues. Survey respondents believe very strongly that Canada continues to demonstrate international leadership in supporting international organizations.

Table 9: Survey Responses Relating to Global Leadership by Canada Q6
Extent Program demonstrates Canadian Leadership at a Global Level: Great or Reasonable Extent Very Little or Not at All
Effective legislative framework 96% 4%
Management of allegations 80% 20%
Support to international organizations 98% 2%
Legislative Framework

All the different groups interviewed (program departments, other departments of the Government of Canada, Canadian external stakeholders, international partner agencies and international external stakeholders in university faculties and justice advocacy organizations) agreed that the Canadian legislative framework for dealing with crimes against humanity is comprehensive and integrated in comparison to the frameworks available to other countries. Interviewees from international partner agencies often noted that their national response to crimes against humanity and war crimes was dependent on a diverse body of legislation and lacked (with the important exception of the Netherlands) a single comprehensive act covering criminal prosecution for these crimes.

Of the three countries studied for the evaluation, only the Netherlands has a comprehensive and integrated legislative framework on war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Offences Act of 2003. Australia relies on different elements of its Migration Act while the US uses a combination of Attorney General's orders, 1994 legislation on those involved in torture, and the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.


While Canada continues to be regarded as a global leader, some international stakeholders and a few staff of participating departments felt that at least some other jurisdictions were making more progress in conducting criminal prosecutions, most notably the Netherlands. For the purposes of planning, the Netherlands program targets three refugee cases (Article 1F) and one criminal prosecution of a Dutch national each year.

It is important to compare the rate of criminal prosecution under the Program to the rate in countries with judicial frameworks and rules of evidence similar to Canada's, most notably Australia and the US. Both those countries rely exclusively on immigration remedies (the US mainly through criminal prosecution for immigration fraud, leading to denaturalization and deportation). Neither has launched a criminal prosecution for participation in crimes against humanity and war crimes. In that sense, Canada continues to lead its most comparable counterpart countries in addressing modern war crimes and crimes against humanity through criminal prosecution for participation in the crimes.

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