Canada has failed to bring individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice, according to a report released Tuesday by human rights organization Amnesty International Canada.
The new report is part of a series that documents how judicial systems around the world fail to prosecute those accused of crimes under international law effectively. The report issued Tuesday states that Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program is “grossly underfunded and underused.”
Amnesty International wrote that the June 21 murder of Liberian national Bill Horace, who served as a rebel commander under former African warlord and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor, made it “clear” that Canada failed to bring suspected war criminals to justice. Canadian authorities allegedly knew that Horace was alive and living in Canada for at least a decade.
Canada enacted the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act in 2000, which criminalizes genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Canada even when committed abroad. However, only two people have been prosecuted under the act. Both individuals were convicted for crimes in Rwanda dating back to the 1990s.
There have been over 17,000 cases of suspected war criminals that were reviewed by the Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada between 1997 and 2007. Of these cases, over 3,700 people were barred from entering Canada. Between 2009 and 2015, 138 people were removed from Canada, 285 were denied refugee, 47 were deemed inadmissible, and one person’s citizenship was revoked because they were involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
The report also highlighted that the War Crimes Program’s budget has remained static since the beginning of the program in 1998, even though investigation costs have significantly increased.
Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International’s English branch in Canada, also stated that the:
longstanding failure to sufficiently resource efforts to bring persons suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law and human rights violators to justice in Canada through universal jurisdiction means that Canada risks impunity for those accused of the worst possible crimes in the world. Canada must do everything to ensure that such individuals face justice, rather than evade justice, in Canada.