[JURIST] Two suspected war criminals have been arrested in Canada after the federal government announced Thursday it would seek the aid of its citizens in tracking down 30 individuals suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney announced and released a list of the 30 alleged war criminals [materials] suspected to be hiding in Canada, including the men’s photos, birthdates and other information. The list was posted on the website of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) [official website], and the public responded. Just one day after the announcement, the Canadian public’s tips led to the separate arrests of two men, Arshad Muhammad of Pakistan, and former Honduran soldier Cristobal Gonzalez-Ramirez. Each had evaded arrest for several years and was found in Canada as a direct result of public tips. Toews said [press release] Saturday:
The help that Canadians are providing to Canada Border Services is proving to be beyond what we had expected. … Those who have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity will find no haven on our shores; they will be located, and they will face the consequences.
The ministers also thanked the public for their assistance and reminded them that all that members of the public should report tips to the CBSA or police, and not take action to apprehend the individuals listed on the website.
In 2000 Canada ratified its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF] “respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [materials], and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.” The Act provides universal jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This allows the Canadian government to prosecute any person who committed an applicable offense 1) if at the time of the offense either the offender or the victim was a citizen of either Canada or its ally in an armed conflict, or 2) if after the the time of the offense the person is present in Canada. The first person convicted under the Act was Rwandan Hutu Desire Munyaneza [The Hague Justice Portal profile], who was convicted [JURIST report] in May 2009 of seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder], and was sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report]. A second Rwandan genocide suspect, Jacques Mungwarere [The Hague Justice Portal profile], was charged [JURIST report] later that year and was indicted under the Act in May 2010 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and two counts of genocide. He has not yet stood trial, but his indictment was filed under section 577 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which can permit a case to be sent straight to trial without a preliminary inquiry.