3. The changes in governance structure introduced during the evaluation period, including the establishment of the War Crimes Steering Committee, the Program Coordination and Operations Committee and its File Review Sub-Committee, have contributed to a more cohesive and coordinated program. These changes have contributed to clearer guidance on resource allocation, clearer definitions of departmental roles and responsibilities, and more rigorous criteria for assigning cases to different remedies.
9. The Program and its activities have made an important contribution to raising the profile of international efforts to deal effectively with crimes against humanity and war crimes. They have also raised awareness of the Program within the international community of war crimes experts. There is, however, a strong consensus among stakeholders at all levels of the need for more intensive awareness building and communication activities in Canada.
10. While the program departments do use basic performance data on outcomes to guide policy and manage program activities, there are gaps in the performance monitoring system relating to education and outreach and awareness-raising activities.
The evaluation supports the continuation of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program. It also found that the interdepartmental model is effective and should be maintained, and all four participating departments remain relevant partners in the Program.
While the coordination and delivery of the Program has seen an increase in efficiency and effectiveness since the last evaluation in 2001, there remain areas for improvement. This section discusses four issues arising from the evaluation and provides five recommendations. It also contains the management response to these recommendations, which has been prepared by the PCOC.
Issue 1: Permanent and Enhanced Funding
There is considerable evidence that the Program will require increased resources to assist in dealing with the increases in operating costs that have occurred since the creation of the coordinated program in 1998. Furthermore, the evaluation identified specific areas that require enhanced resources if the Program is to be effective in addressing the no safe haven policy in the future, namely the investigative capacity of the RCMP, updating and upgrading program databases, and training of staff.
There is also a strong argument for establishing program funding on a permanent basis. This is based on:
- ongoing commitments made by the Government of Canada through international conventions and statutes;
- the establishment of a legislative basis for the Program through the CAHWCA; and
- the ongoing supply of allegations overseas and in Canada for involvement in war crimes, which can be expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
There is an apparent discrepancy between the size of the RCMP/DOJ inventory of modern war crimes cases and the resources available to the RCMP War Crimes Section for investigation. The limited resources available for criminal investigation, in relation to the inventory of serious cases, place an important limitation on the Program's contribution to the objective of denying safe haven through non-civil remedies.
Consider making program funding permanent and adjust the overall level of financial resources provided to the Program based on a cost-justified plan prepared by the participating departments.
Consider increasing funding to strengthen the investigative capacity of the RCMP as this was the highest priority for enhanced funding identified by the evaluation.
We concur with the recommendations.
A permanent and enhanced funding base would facilitate long-term planning of key program activities and create a more stable environment for the management of human and financial resources.
Operationally, this would result in the enhancement of the Program's investigative capacity, the update of databases, the increase of outreach and training activities as well as the improvement of research sharing within the Program and with other government departments, other countries and stakeholders. These areas of activity have all been identified in the evaluation report as areas to be improved.
From a policy perspective, permanent funding would send an unequivocal message, nationally and internationally, that the fight against impunity for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide is a government priority. Permanent funding is consistent with the government's international treaty obligations.
PCOC will seek approval for a renewed mandate beyond the 2009/10 fiscal year with permanent enhanced funding, based on a cost-justified plan.
The renewal process will be initiated this fall (2008). Through this exercise, the program partners will identify the areas of the Program that would most benefit from permanent and enhanced funding.
Increasing the investigative capacity of the RCMP will be one of the fundamental elements included in this process. Specifically, the RCMP will seek an increased level of resources, both human and financial, to effectively manage the investigative caseload.
Issue 2: Information Sharing and Access
Most departmental staff indicated that the Program was effective in research and intelligence gathering, as well as sharing information on program context and on specific cases, with one important exception relating to the Modern War Crimes System (MWCS).
MWCS is an electronic database designed to assist CIC and CBSA officers in the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity. MWCS originated on a CIC electronic platform prior to the creation of CBSA. When the war crimes section of CIC was transferred to CBSA, the database remained on a CIC platform and was not transferred to CBSA. This means that CBSA, as the main user of MWCS, cannot input new information into the system nor update it, as the platform used by the agency is not compatible with the one used by CIC. Only CIC has the right and capability to update MWCS.
Program staff at CBSA point to resource constraints and the priority given to other systems projects as the reason for the delay in resolving the systems issues restricting the updating of MWCS material.
Consider improving and upgrading CBSA and CIC program databases, most notably the MWCS, to ensure better access and so that updates and changes may be made more frequently.
We agree with the recommendation that there is a need to update the MWCS database and provide better access to the system.
CBSA and CIC IT are working together to resolve the issues that have prevented the MWCS from being updated. Discussions have been taking place at the PCOC level as well, including on the availability of funds for these initiatives or lack thereof.
The CBSA War Crimes Section has identified an employee to update the MWCS.
Discussions are also taking place with CBSA and CIC IT to assess the possibility of sharing MWCS with the other program partners.
Virtual Library Project
CBSA has proposed to use the MWCS database for a CBSA-led initiative to launch a
“virtual library” project to improve the coordination of the Program's research capacity.
As part of this initiative, it is proposed to use the existing MWCS database for the virtual library project and share it with the other program partners. This initiative will allow the Program to resolve several important issues addressed in both the RMAF and current evaluation, namely the need to improve information sharing at the research level, to modernize and update MWCS, and to ensure better access to it.
A virtual library working group made up of representatives from each department was established in September 2008 and has begun work on this project.
The project is being supervised by the newly created War Crimes Program joint Research Committee, which was created in the summer of 2008 to enhance information sharing amongst program researchers and analysts. The Research Committee will report back to PCOC.
It is important to note, however, that our ability to update the system and input new data in it is highly dependent upon securing additional resources.
Issue 3: War Crimes Training and Professional Development
The review of selected presentations, other training tools and operational manuals showed that there was a significant level of program-specific training and information dissemination activity being undertaken in the different program departments (especially CBSA and DOJ). The operational manuals reviewed were clearly relevant to the operational requirements of the Program and some were undergoing updating and finalization at the time of the evaluation.
Similarly, during interviews, some respondents from program departments reported that they had access to manuals and guidelines that were helpful (e.g., were recently updated to include an overview of war crimes) while others noted that the material required updating and that was done infrequently because of a lack of resources.
Other challenges in the area of training noted during key informant interviews or listed as comments by survey respondents included:
- A limited number of training sessions available, especially for front-line staff, and of limited duration;
- A need for more systematic introductory training, especially of newly posted staff;
- A tendency for war crimes issues and procedures to be included only as very brief segments or modules in broader training packages; and
- Inconsistent training material across regional offices, even within the same department.
The Program faces an important challenge in improving the adequacy and frequency of training, most critically for staff newly assigned to front-line positions in the regions and in posts abroad.
Consider undertaking a formal review of training requirements in order to develop a detailed training plan to address gaps. The plan should include the needs of the various departments, nature and frequency of training, format for delivery, an assessment of resource requirements and performance measures for monitoring purposes.
We agree with the conclusion and recommendations that training and professional development are critical to the operation of the Program. The War Crimes Program partners have decided to develop a more consistent and standardized approach when conducting training activities. They are currently moving forward with several training initiatives and will be preparing a detailed training plan. A number of training initiatives may require additional funding.
Standardized War Crimes Program Training Plan and Modules
In order to rectify existing training gaps, PCOC has approved in September 2008 a CBSA-led initiative to develop a standardized War Crimes Program training plan and associated training modules. The idea behind this project is to assess the training needs of each program partner and develop standard training modules, which would provide information on substantive matters common to all partners. The modules would be updated on a regular basis and could be used, individually or collectively, for a variety of outreach activities.
This project was undertaken to implement one of the components of the War Crimes Program RMAF. Moreover, this initiative is consistent with the recommendations made in the current evaluation.
A War Crimes Program Training Plan Working Group was established in September 2008 and has begun work on this project.
Like the Virtual Library Project, the standardized War Crimes Program training plan project is being supervised by the joint Research Committee.
Annual National War Crimes Program Workshop
The CBSA, DOJ and RCMP are currently preparing the annual three-day National War Crimes Program Workshop, which will take place in Ottawa in early 2009. This will be the third year in a row that this workshop has been offered to staff from CBSA (HQ and regions), CIC, DOJ and the RCMP as well as several other government departments, including DFAIT and DND. Feedback from past participants has been extremely positive.
The War Crimes Program partners intend to continue providing this annual workshop and refining the material. With additional funding, the training could be offered twice per year and to a greater number of trainees within the program departments.
Updating Training Material
War Crimes Program partners intend to regularly update training material. As an example, CBSA updated its War Crimes Program tactical guide (last updated in 2004), which will be released in the fall of 2008. The guide is a valuable research and training tool and will be distributed to staff within the Program. In order to facilitate regular updating and reduce production costs, it has been decided to distribute the guide electronically as a “living document” that will be regularly updated as needs develop.
Training to CIC and CBSA Regions and Missions
War Crimes Program partners also intend to offer greater training opportunities to CIC and CBSA field officers by deploying qualified trainers directly to regional offices in Canada and missions abroad. In the past year, CBSA and DOJ have conducted several regional training sessions. With additional funding, such activities could be increased.
DOJ Mandatory Training Schedule
The War Crimes Section of the DOJ is establishing a mandatory training schedule for all War Crimes DOJ staff. The training schedule will focus on core essential skills and knowledge.
This initiative follows the creation of a DOJ War Crimes Section Education and Outreach Committee in early 2008 to search for and examine learning and outreach opportunities.
RCMP Training Initiatives
The RCMP War Crimes Section is creating an orientation manual for new members to its section. The Section has undertaken a review of training needs and established a set of core courses for war crimes investigators.
Issue 4: Outreach within Canada
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 think 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 more resources should be devoted to these activities to avoid raising expectations.
Consider allocating additional funding to support the development and implementation of an operational plan for intensified outreach to raise awareness of the Program in Canada. The plan should include identification and prioritization of potential recipients, the appropriate method to reach each group, the resource requirements and performance measures for monitoring purposes.
Over the past several years, efforts have been made to increase awareness and outreach. Target audiences have ranged from other departments and agencies within the Canadian government, like-minded foreign governments, and other countries or international institutions involved in the fight against impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes, to entities with no direct affiliation to any given war crimes activity, such as universities, schools, conferences, NGOs or individuals.
However, there is currently no consistent approach to the way outreach activities are conducted by the four partners. Each department and agency does outreach independently and in an ad-hoc fashion.
The War Crimes Program therefore agrees with the recommendation to develop a standardized War Crimes Program Outreach Plan that will indicate the Program's outreach objectives and activities, and the resources most suited to delivering them, subject to additional funding being received.
Updating the War Crimes Program Website
War Crimes Program partners have also decided to update the Program Website, which is an important outreach tool. This work will be undertaken through the joint Research Committee.