Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program


3.4. Cost Effectiveness and Alternatives

  • Are there more cost-effective ways to fulfill Canada's no safe-haven policy?
  • Are there more effective and efficient ways to increase knowledge and program awareness among partners and stakeholders?
  • Are the resources allocated to the Program adequate to achieve its goals?

3.4.1. Cost-Effective Means to Fulfill the Policy

Summary Findings

Cost estimate data for each of the remedies used by the Program clearly illustrate the cost advantage of immigration remedies and strongly support recent (2006 and 2007) policy decisions and changes to file review criteria placing emphasis on their use (without prejudicing criminal prosecution in those cases meeting the criteria). In that sense, the Program has taken significant measures to improve cost effectiveness in recent years. Nonetheless, program staff has made a number of practical suggestions for reducing case costs and for ensuring that the least cost remedy of denying entry is as effective as possible.

Careful use of the prosecution remedy remains a necessary program component for contributing to the overall program objective of denying safe haven. As many interviewees have argued, criminal prosecution, while very costly, has an important role in emphasizing the high priority of the policy.

Finally, there is no evidence that the four program departments operating independently would be able to achieve improvements in cost effectiveness. In fact, there is a strong risk that any relatively small cost savings would be more than offset by losses in program coordination and cohesiveness and, thereby, in effectiveness.

Evaluation Evidence

Cost Comparison Data by Remedy

One of the most important methods used for assessing the cost effectiveness of the Program is the cost comparison of the nine remedies available for dealing with allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The first step in the cost-comparison process was a series of consultations with managers from program departments to develop process flow diagrams for all nine remedies (and the file review, which begins the process of classification). Program staff then provided estimates of the direct costs of each step in the process.

The cost estimates provided reflect direct costs such as departmental salaries and benefits (benefits estimated at 15% of salary), travel expenses, and any other out-of-pocket expenses that departments incur. Overhead costs (office rent, utilities, etc.) are not reflected in these cost estimates. The cost of each step in all the remedies is provided in Appendix D along with a more detailed description of the supporting data.

Table 11 presents the estimated costs for each remedy for the simplest and most complex scenarios.

Table 11: Cost Estimates of Remedies Available to the Program
Remedy Estimated Costs Per Case
Simplest Most Complex
Remedy 1: Denial of Visa to Persons outside Canada $639 $7,832
Remedy 2: Denial of Access to the Refugee Determination System $4,768 $45,551
Remedy 3: Exclusion from Protection of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees $8,152 $41,085
Remedy 4: Prosecution $4,027,284 $4,170,372
Remedy 5: Extradition to a Foreign Government $471,251 $526,341
Remedy 6: Surrender to an International Tribunal $471,251 $526,341
Remedy 7: Revocation of Citizenship $471,810 $1,291,194*
Remedy 8: Inquiry and Removal from Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) $15,782 $46,931
Remedy 9: Denial of Status to Senior Officials from Governments Considered to Have Engaged In Gross Human Rights Violations under Section 35 1 (B) of IRPA $523 $36,351

* If the intent to revoke citizenship results from a decision to terminate a criminal investigation in favour of pursuing citizenship revocation, the costs of the aborted criminal investigation could arguably raise the cost of this remedy by as much as an additional $676,000.

There are three important messages regarding the costs of remedies evident in the data presented in Table 11 and described in the pages above.

  1. Remedies 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9 are orders of magnitude less costly on a per-case basis than remedies 4, 5, 6 and 7. Essentially, if an allegation can be dealt with before a person suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes becomes a permanent resident or citizen or is granted refugee protection, the available remedies can be very cost effective.
  2. For Remedies 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9, there is a very large difference between the cost of a simple and a complex case. For these remedies, if the subject appeals a decision, costs increase significantly.
  3. Even though criminal prosecution is a multi-year activity, with costs spread over about two and a half years, it remains more than twice as expensive as all the others combined, even when they are the most complex cases.

The data on the cost of the different remedies, points to several important observations on cost effectiveness:

  • The 2007 decision of the War Crimes Steering Committee to place greater emphasis on immigration remedies (in terms of allocating resources) can be seen as appropriate from a cost effectiveness point of view given the apparent costs of prosecutions case and the budgetary limitations of the Program.
  • The PCOC file review policy adjustment in 2006 (realigning the Program to reflect the fact that immigration remedies represent an important aspect of the no safe haven policy without denying the need for revocation of citizenship and criminal investigations/prosecutions) can only be seen as appropriate given the costs of the different remedies.
  • There is a strong cost effectiveness argument for using the criminal prosecution remedy sparingly, even if the costs of the investigation phase can be reduced in future cases.
  • One important factor that constrains the cost effectiveness of the Program is the fact that remedies are often pursued in parallel with the result that the Program assumes the cost of more than one remedy for a single case. This occurs because it is often not clear at the beginning of a case which remedy will prove most effective. If a decision is taken during an investigation for criminal prosecution that such a prosecution is not viable, it is very important that the relevant immigration remedy be at an advanced stage of preparation in order to proceed as quickly as possible.

Interviewees from program departments and partner international organizations made a number of quite detailed suggestions for improving cost effectiveness, including:

  • Place even greater emphasis on immigration enforcement by, for example, increasing the number of Migration Integrity Officers (MIO) supporting the screening process at posts abroad;
  • Increase training of visa officers so they can readily recognize cases where there are war crimes related grounds for denial;
  • Make more use of video-taping and other evidence gathering techniques to reduce the need and cost of bringing witnesses to Canada; and,
  • When evidence is gathered abroad, avoid multiple missions and their travel costs by keeping a small team in the field until all the evidence is gathered.

It is also worth noting that some staff of the international partner organizations pointed out that the Canadian Program is, from their perspective, characterized by effective interdepartmental coordination and likely to be more cost effective than other national programs. Others argued that assessing cost effectiveness of justice programs is always difficult, but that there is an over-riding imperative to take action.

It should also be noted that a few interviewees from the Program departments and other federal departments felt that cost effectiveness could be improved if a much more aggressive risk management approach were adopted. Among other actions, this would involve a further revision to file review criteria classifying fewer cases for costly remedies such as investigation for revocation of citizenship or criminal prosecution.

The Alternative of Separate Departmental Programs

A few interviewees raised the question of whether or not it would be more cost effective to have each department conduct its operations relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity independently, rather than through a single integrated program.

Any improvement in cost effectiveness would presumably be based on potential savings that could be made through eliminating the central program governance structures (the War Crimes Steering Committee and PCOC and its file review sub-committee). Similarly there could be some cost savings for departments as they eliminate or reduce the expense of participating in joint planning and accountability mechanisms such as preparing the RMAF and providing data for the Annual Report.

There are three problems with this analysis, however:

  1. The savings would not be very large in comparison to the costs of delivering the remedies themselves as outlined in Table 11;
  2. In the absence of the formal mechanisms for coordinating war crimes related operations among the four departments, it would very likely be necessary to set up ad-hoc structures for coordination. The process flow diagrams presented in Appendix D show that none of the remedies available to deal with those involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity can be fully delivered by a single department and most involve either three departments or all four. The country studies show that Australia, the Netherlands and the US all found it necessary to institute either formal or informal inter-agency committees of government to deal with policy issues and operational coordination;
  3. While separation could theoretically lead to a slight reduction in costs for one or more departments (although a more thorough cost analysis of the Program governance and coordination structures would need to be undertaken to support that view), any savings would come at a significant cost to effectiveness. The Program has achieved substantial gains in cohesiveness and effective coordination in the period under evaluation, which could be undermined by such cost-cutting measures. If those gains were to be sacrificed in order to make small savings in governance and coordination costs, the effect on the cost effectiveness of the Program would most likely be negative.

3.4.2. Effective Ways to Increase Awareness

Summary Findings

There are opportunities for increasing awareness and knowledge of the Program by taking advantage of the media exposure offered by high profile revocation of citizenship and prosecution cases. High profile (although admittedly expensive) revocation of citizenship and prosecution cases, although they should only be undertaken based on the merits of the cases involved, represent a powerful means of creating awareness. There are also opportunities to increase awareness and knowledge in Canada through relatively small investments in increased outreach activities aimed at communities and potential partner organizations.

Clearly, increasing awareness of the issues and of the Program in Canada may lead to an increase in the number of allegations with implications for program workload and costs. On the other hand, an absence of awareness may raise the risk of those involved going undetected, which undercuts the effectiveness of the no safe haven policy and raises the risk of Canada being perceived as less than fully committed to the policy.

Evaluation Evidence

This issue presupposes a need to increase awareness and knowledge of the Program in Canada, presumably in order to build strong support for the Program among the Canadian public and to engage members of the public who may be able to identify alleged perpetrators and/or provide information and evidence. That is certainly the argument made by the staff of external stakeholder organizations in Canada.

Program department staff and external stakeholders in Canada emphasized the possibility of increasing awareness in Canada by:

  • Increasing outreach to ethnic communities in Canada arriving from the conflict zones where war crimes and crimes against humanity have taken place in order to encourage their members to identify alleged perpetrators and to provide information and evidence;
  • Increasing the emphasis on media relations and the cultivation of media contacts (for example through the use of press releases);
  • Including the NGOs in Canada (and internationally) as an element of the outreach of the Program so that their activities can help to increase awareness and knowledge at little or no cost;
  • Creating a link on the Program Website allowing potential complainants to contact the Program directly;
  • Increasing contact with local police forces in Canada so that they recognize potential war crimes cases more readily and can refer them to the Program; and,
  • Strengthening linkages to the academic community in Canada.

The media analysis illustrated the fact that prosecution and revocation of citizenship cases receive very significant media attention with the potential to raise public awareness and knowledge of the Program. This was confirmed in three of the case studies dealing with high profile cases of criminal prosecution or removal from Canada.

3.4.3. Allocated Program Resources Adequate to Achieve Goals

Summary Findings

As noted in Section 3.1.4, the Program has continued to see a rising number of cases reviewed abroad and in Canada during the evaluation period. Similarly, the combined patterns of global armed conflict and immigration to Canada strongly indicate there is no reason to expect a decline in the number of allegations in the near future. Given the expectation that the workload of the Program is unlikely to decline (after rising through much of the evaluation period), combined with funding which has not increased in nominal terms in the same period, it is not surprising that many interviewees feel the Program lacks sufficient resources to achieve its objectives.

In light of the decline since 1998/99 (in real dollar terms) of the annual program budget, and in the context of a continued supply of new allegations reported in the 9th Annual Report, the current level of program resources will be inadequate to achieving the Program's goals in the future.

Key areas for allocating increased resources (in order of relative priority) are in the RCMP War Crimes Section for investigation of cases in the modern war crimes inventory, the improvement and updating of electronic databases held by CBSA/CIC, investments in training for new front- line staff in the regions and posts abroad and investments in outreach and awareness raising in Canada.

Similarly, there is a strong argument that allegations of involvement in modern war crimes are not a temporary phenomenon leading to a backlog that can be dealt with through a temporary program. The backlog in World War II cases was cited as one rationale in 1998 for providing temporary funding to the Program. As already noted, there is no reasonable expectation that the number of allegations dealt with by the Program will significantly decline in the near future. These factors, when combined with the existence of permanent legislation in the CAHWCA, point to a strong rationale for permanent funding for the Program.

Evaluation Evidence

The overall envelope of financial resources for the Program is earmarked in the fiscal framework pursuant to the 2005 Federal Budget at a total of $78M for the period 2005/06 to 2009/10. In addition, the RCMP has allocated $0.66M annually in their A-base for war crimes-related work. This constitutes the same level of funding allocated in 1998 for the period from 2004/05 to 2009/10 without any adjustment to reflect increases in salary or inflation that impact operational costs, or accommodation and corporate support costs. The result is a significant reduction in real dollar terms (adjusted for inflation) of the value of funds available for all program activities.

When staff of program departments were asked if resources were adequate to undertake the activities necessary for achieving the Program's goals, they strongly agreed that they were not. Nearly all departmental staff interviewed claimed that the Program has been under-funded. They largely agreed that the RCMP War Crimes Section, in particular, was not sufficiently funded in the 2005/06 to 2008/09 budget allocation, especially given the costs and human resources requirements of the RCMP/DOJ inventory.

Program department staff identified many areas requiring increased funding in order to better meet program objectives; those most frequently mentioned and given the highest emphasis included:

  • Increased funding for the RCMP for investigations relating to the RCMP/DOJ modern war crimes inventory;
  • Investing in CIC/CBSA electronic databases to allow for more frequent updating (especially for the MWCS) and to allow easier data sharing between regional offices and headquarters and across different electronic platforms;
  • Increasing the number of MIO at posts able to assist visa officers in posts abroad;
  • Increased investment in training for frontline staff in regions and in posts abroad (CIC, CBSA and RCMP Liaison Officers) especially so that staff newly posted in these positions receive training early in their assignments; and
  • Increased funding of awareness and outreach activities to key stakeholders in Canada to build support for the Program and to allow community members and organizations to provide information and evidence.

Most interviewees also reported that permanent program funding would allow for better strategic and long-term planning and greater stability for human resources (career planning). In addition, some respondents cautioned against receiving A-base funding as it would be vulnerable to other departmental priorities, especially given recent changes in cost recovery policies.

The survey of the staff of program departments asked respondents to rate the adequacy of resources available for different elements of allegation management.

Table 12: Survey Responses Relating to Adequacy of Resources (Q14)
Respondent rating of the adequacy of Program resources for Somewhat or Very Adequate Somewhat or Very Inadequate
Screening visa applications 69% 31%
Denying visas related to war crimes 68% 32%
Training and professional development 42% 58%
Gathering and disseminating intelligence 48% 53%
Investigations 31% 69%
Outreach and communications 44% 56%
Preparation of cases for hearings and review 70% 30%
Preparation of cases for trial 74% 26%

Program staff surveyed identified four program elements as those most critically under-resourced in the following order:

  • Investigations (including RCMP/DOJ investigations for criminal prosecution and CBSA-led investigations for immigration remedies);
  • Training and professional development;
  • Outreach and communications; and
  • Gathering and dissemination of intelligence (including investments in databases and electronic platforms).

The country studies did not provide a full accounting of the budgetary investments of the countries involved. On the other hand, they did provide some estimates of the human resources available to similar programs outside Canada, especially for police investigators and field agents (in the US).

The Netherlands, for instance, has 20 police officers (4 coordinators and 16 investigators) in the War Crimes Unit of the International Crimes Division of the National Police. This is more than twice the number of investigators in the RCMP War Crimes Section. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the Netherlands has a further 25 investigators devoted to war crimes investigations, with 8 more being added in 2008.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service in the US estimates that, of its over 6,000 field investigators, some 50 to 200 may be working mainly on human rights violator cases.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) does not have a dedicated war crimes unit, but can assign resources depending on the case load. They estimate the number of investigators allocated to war crimes cases can be as low as two and a half or as high as 30. Meanwhile, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration war crimes unit in Australia currently has eight analysts but expects that number to double in the near future.

In comparative terms, all three countries studied are able to dedicate a much larger contingent of police investigators to war crimes cases, either as permanent staff of war crimes units or assigned as needed. Of course other countries may not have comparable incidences of war crimes allegations (interviewees were not able to provide this data to the evaluation team) so there are limits to the comparability of the number of dedicated personnel.

In terms of population alone, the Netherlands at an estimated 16.4 million in 2008 is just under half of Canada's 33.4 million estimate for the same period. Australia's population stands at 24.4 million and the US at 305.3 million. Given Canada's larger population and continuing commitment to high levels of immigration, it seems unlikely that the either the Netherlands or Australia would be faced with a much higher case load of allegations than Canada.

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