Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program


The following section presents the findings of the evaluation as they relate to each of the four major categories of evaluation questions: relevance, program design and delivery, program success and cost effectiveness, and alternatives. Each sub-section begins with a summary of the evaluation questions it addresses and then presents the evaluation information and analysis supporting specific findings.[7]

3.1. Program Relevance

Do the goals of the Program remain relevant in context of:

  • Government of Canada priorities;
  • Government-wide and departmental refugee, security and justice policies;
  • Canada's international legal obligations;
  • The expressed needs of stakeholders; and
  • The continuing supply of allegations?

3.1.1. Relevance to Government Priorities and Policies

Summary Findings

By restating the goals of the Program annually and through the legislative and programmatic actions to establish and maintain the Program, the Government of Canada continues to confirm the policy priority of denying safe haven and the related goals of the Program. On balance, the continuing priority of the Program and its relevance to national policy is readily evident. Similarly, as the principal instrument for upholding a repeatedly emphasized priority of government, the Program is clearly in the public interest.

Evaluation Evidence

The review of program documents reveals strong indications of the continuing fit between the purpose of the Program (upholding the government's policy that Canada is not a safe haven for anyone involved in crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide) and Government of Canada priorities. The documents reviewed provide details of diplomatic, legislative, and programmatic actions taken to uphold the policy, including:

  • Canadian involvement in the diplomatic efforts (including chairing the drafting committee) that resulted in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC);
  • Canada becoming the 14th country to sign the Rome Statute of the ICC in December 1998;
  • Passage of the CAHWCA which updated Canadian law to conform with the Rome Statute on June 29, 2000;
  • Canadian Ratification of the Rome Statute on July 7, 2000;
  • Renewal of the unified Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program with five-year funding set at $78 million in 2004;
  • Re-iteration in the 2004 Speech from the Throne of the Government of Canada's commitment to international justice, respect for human rights and strengthened border security; and
  • The publication of nine consecutive Annual Reports (1998 to 2008) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, each of which reaffirms the Program as an ongoing priority of the Government of Canada.

When asked about the continuing relevance of the Program, interviewees from the program departments, other departments of the Government of Canada, international partner agencies, and external stakeholders in Canada and abroad all tended to discuss what they perceived as the objectives of the Program rather than their perception of its continuing relevance to Canadian government priorities. When pressed on the point, however, the large majority of interviewees (including all 26 from participating program departments) felt the Program remains a priority, with many citing one or more of the actions listed above.

External stakeholders were also more interested in discussing the reasons they felt the Program should remain a high priority for the Government of Canada than in providing evidence that it so remains. A few interviewees from program departments and from elsewhere in the Government of Canada felt that, while the Program and its goals remain a priority, the decision not to increase funding over the five-year period from 2004 to 2009 calls that priority somewhat into question.

Without any prompting from the evaluators, interviewees involved in similar programs in Australia, the Netherlands and the USA cited the existence of an integrated, separately funded, multi-department program as evidence that the Canadian Government continues to place a high priority on the goals of the Program.

3.1.2. Continued Relevance to International Obligations

Summary Findings

The relevance of the Program to addressing Canada's international obligations was confirmed during the 2001 Evaluation Study, and the obligations have not changed materially since then. The Program remains relevant to meeting those obligations. Its effectiveness in meeting international obligations is addressed in Section 3.3.4.

Evaluation Evidence

Canada's international obligations regarding crimes against humanity and war crimes have continued to evolve during the period under evaluation, but they have certainly not diminished. They arise mainly from treaty obligations resulting from international agreements. Interviews and documents reviewed point, in particular, to:

  • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1949) committing signatories to prevent and to punish acts of genocide;
  • The Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951) that established war crimes and crimes against humanity (Article 1 F) as a reason to exclude refugee protection;
  • The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987) with its obligations to prosecute or extradite persons who have committed acts of torture;
  • The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 Additional Protocols containing an obligation to prosecute or extradite persons who have committed war crimes in international armed conflicts as described in those instruments; and
  • The Rome Statute of the ICC (2002).

The Rome Statute, in particular, seeks to integrate efforts at both the international and national level to end impunity for the worst possible crimes. The DOJ War Crimes Section indicates that the Rome Statute, while creating an obligation to cooperate and support the work of the ICC, did not create new obligations to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rather, in the wording of the Statute, it provides primary discretion to national courts and, only when they are unwilling or unable, does it provide for jurisdiction by the ICC.

Almost all those interviewed indicated that the Program continues to be particularly relevant to meeting Canada's international obligations when dealing with crimes against humanity and war crimes. They make an important distinction, however, between the formal legal obligations created by treaties, conventions and statutes on the one hand, and, on the other, the wider context of international capacity to effectively prosecute crimes against humanity and war crimes and thereby deny impunity.

Some interviewees point to the establishment and/or expansion of programs in both sending and receiving countries (Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden) as evidence, partly as a result of Canadian efforts, of increased global priority. They argue further that this increased international interest in combating impunity places Canada under at least a moral obligation to continue to take action.

3.1.3. The Expressed Needs of External Stakeholders

Virtually all Canadian external stakeholders interviewed emphasized the Program's continued relevance to the need to respond to, in particular, modern war crimes. Representatives of organizations working on behalf of immigrants from countries where war crimes have occurred feel strongly that their constituents need a program that can respond to the presence in Canada of persons who may have participated in crimes against humanity or war crimes abroad. As an example, one organization working for victims of torture noted that the possibility of securing justice is one of the important pre-conditions for successful rehabilitation of victims.

The staff of Canadian advocacy organizations and university researchers in Canada and abroad also strongly endorsed the continuing relevance of the Program.

3.1.4. The Continuing Supply of Allegations

Summary Findings

There is considerable evidence that the Program will need to deal with a continuing supply of new allegations to be addressed in the medium-term future. This finding is based on: the significant number of armed conflicts globally; continued cases of crimes against humanity being perpetrated by regimes not formally in conflict; significant levels of immigration to Canada from countries that are in conflict; and the fact that even past conflicts can give rise to new allegations.

Evaluation Evidence

Objectively there are three readily apparent factors affecting the number of allegations the Program must deal with:

  • Armed conflicts giving rise to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Clearly crimes against humanity may occur in peacetime as some regimes abuse their own populations, but armed conflicts in the past (in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia for example) have contributed to a significant rise in the number of war crimes and crimes against humanity;
  • The patterns and volume of persons attempting to migrate to Canada (sometimes successfully) from conflict locations; and,
  • The level of awareness both in Canada and internationally arising from, for example, the establishment of international tribunals that may encourage people to report allegations to the Program.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its 2007 Yearbook notes a declining trend in international armed conflict since 1999.

In 2006 there were 17 major armed conflicts in 16 locations, with the same conflicts active as in 2005. In the period 1997-2006, there were 34 different major armed conflicts. There has been a decline in the total annual number of conflicts since 1999.[8]

The 2007 Yearbook notes that, in 2006, Africa, Asia and the Middle East were the principal geographical locations of armed conflict. It makes particular reference to conflicts in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and the Sudan and the rising intensity of conflicts no longer fought directly between states (Chapter 2).

At the same time, changes in patterns of immigration to Canada have been shifting along with the pattern of armed conflict. Clearly, immigration patterns change for a host of reasons. This analysis does not imply that armed conflicts cause changes in immigration patterns to Canada, but only that the pattern itself means that new permanent residents continue to arrive from countries in conflict.

As reported in CIC's latest Facts and Figures, the number of permanent residents coming to Canada from Africa and the Middle East (the major conflict zones in 2006 according to SIPRI) grew from 33,557 in 1999 to 51,863 in 2006 (the latest reporting year)[9].

Table 2 below shows the changing pattern of permanent residents arriving from twelve countries experiencing armed conflict sometime in the period from 1999 to 2006, as reported by CIC.

Table 2: New Permanent Residents in Canada from 12 Selected Source Countries
Country 1999 2002 2006
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1,809 466 253
Yugoslavia (former) 1,492 1,623 126
Croatia 1,369 347 85
Lebanon 1,397 1,723 4,513
Ethiopia 637 802 1,647
Congo, Democratic Republic 873 1,022 1,414
Iraq 1,396 1,365 977
Somalia 1,499 598 896
Sudan 539 1,368 832
Zimbabwe 38 200 449
Afghanistan 2,111 2,971 2,552
Colombia 1,296 5,294 5,813
Total 16,457 19,783 21,565

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Facts and Figures 2007

The table clearly illustrates a decline in new permanent residents of Canada from conflict zones in Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2006, but a corresponding rise from other countries experiencing conflict. There is no readily available evidence that the changing patterns in armed conflicts are driving similar changes in immigration to Canada. Nonetheless, the expected result in terms of the need for the Program is the same, a continuing supply of allegations of involvement by persons seeking to enter Canada or already residents. New allegations of involvement continue to arise from old as well as ongoing conflicts.

Finally, some interviewees (in particular, Canadian external stakeholders) suggest that recent high profile cases receiving fairly positive media coverage in Canada can be expected to lead to more allegations, as their constituents are encouraged to report more allegations to the RCMP War Crimes Section.

Data in the Program's Annual Reports also supports the finding that the Program faces a continuing supply of new allegations. During the nine-year period from 1997/98 to 2005/06, 15,694 cases were reviewed abroad and 14,274 in Canada for a total of 29,968.

The 9th Annual Report shows the number of cases reviewed abroad rising from 85 in 1997/98 to over 3000 in 2005/06.[10] Cases reviewed in Canada rose also from 392 to just over 1,400 in the same time period.

3.1.5. Overall Summary Findings on Program Relevance

In summary, the interviews conducted for the evaluation in Canada and internationally and both inside and outside the program departments, combined with the document and data review, strongly support the continuing relevance of the Program. The study indicates:

  • The continued priority of program goals for the Government of Canada;
  • The continuation of international legal obligations the Program is designed to address;
  • A continuing expression of need among Canadian and international external stakeholders for a program of this type; and,
  • A reasonable expectation that new allegations will continue to arise in significant volumes as a result of old and new armed conflicts and the changing pattern of migration to Canada.

The Program also represents a legitimate and necessary role for government as it is concerned with the effective application of federal law using the full range of legal remedies available through a program structure integrated across four federal departments.

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