Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, holds up some of the 31,000 letters as they call on Saudi Arabia to free Raif Badawi as protesters take part in a rally outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa on Monday, November 2, 2015. A prominent human rights organization says Canada is failing to bring suspected war criminals to justice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, holds up some of the 31,000 letters as they call on Saudi Arabia to free Raif Badawi as protesters take part in a rally outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa on Monday, November 2, 2015. A prominent human rights organization says Canada is failing to bring suspected war criminals to justice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Changes needed to help Canada prosecute war criminals, Amnesty International says

The $15.6-million budget for the war-crimes program has remained static over the years,

A prominent human-rights organization says Canada is failing to bring suspected war criminals to justice.

In a newly released report, Amnesty International Canada depicts the federal Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program as underfunded and underused.

Twenty years ago, Canada enshrined in federal law universal jurisdiction for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, meaning these offences are considered criminal acts in Canada even when they are committed abroad.

But only two people, both linked to the Rwanda genocide of 1994, have been prosecuted under the legislation.

Amnesty points to the case of Bill Horace, a former Liberian warlord, as evidence of Canada’s poor record in the years since.

It notes that Horace, who was shot to death in June in London, Ont., had been widely accused of committing mass murder, rape and torture in Liberia during the 1990s.

“Despite a mountain of evidence against him, Canadian officials never charged Horace, allowing him to live freely in this country since he first arrived in 2002,” Amnesty Canada said in releasing the report today.

More often than not, Canada washes its hands of its responsibility, failing to take any action to prosecute alleged war criminals or opting to deport them without any guarantees they will be investigated for their misdeeds, said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty Canada.

The $15.6-million budget for the war-crimes program has remained static over the years, but the costs of conducting investigations “have risen significantly,” the report says.

It urges the Canadian government to boost the resources of the federal program, improve the protection of victims and witnesses, and remove various legal and political obstacles to prosecution.

The report was co-ordinated by Sebastien Jodoin, Canada Research Chair in Human Rights and the Environment at McGill University, and developed with the input of lawyers, legal scholars, and law students.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colin Springford doing what he loved best, tending to his garden. (Linda Matteson photo)
Longtime farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

Saanich has awarded the tender for a youth bike skills park planned for the lot next to the George Tripp BC Hydro Substation off Lochside Drive to Bike Track Ltd. for $242,000. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich selects company to build youth bike skills track at Tripp Station Park

More than $240,000 allotted for Bike Track Ltd. to design bike park

An architectural rendering provides a look at PC Urban’s proposal for three buildings on the former Galaxy Motors property at 1764 Island Hwy. in Colwood. (Rendering courtesy of PC Urban)
Commercial/industrial development planned for former Galaxy Motors site

Colwood proposal goes to public hearing Jan. 25

Members of the Victoria Police Department, some of whom are shown here observing a moment of silence for victims of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, experience stress and potential trauma more than most other workers, says Chief Const. Del Manak. While the number of shifts lost at VicPD are soaring, he sees it as a sign people are taking their own health and wellness seriously. (Black Press Media file photo)
Skyrocketing number of lost shifts at Victoria police has a positive side, chief says

Chief Const. Del Manak says officers, staff being more proactive looking after their mental health

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden arrives at U.S. Capitol for inauguration

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Most Read