Communiqués de presse

Victim of a massacre; the Canadian government ignores his call for help

By Communiqués de presse, News

May 30, 2022, Ottawa – The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, today refused to meet with Ramiro Osorio Cristales, one of the only survivors of a terrible massacre in Guatemala. Mr. Osorio Cristales, a Canadian citizen, has long demanded that Canada try  Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, an alleged war criminal who actively participated in the massacre and who now lives in Canada, having obtained Canadian citizenship.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), which is accompanying Mr. Osorio Cristales and the Guatemalan association of relatives of the victims of the massacre (Familiares de desaparecidos de Guatemala – FAMDEGUA) in their quest for justice, was also present in Ottawa, on his behalf and as a representative of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), to call on Minister Lametti to act. The Minister has the authority – indeed the duty – under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, as outlined in a statement supported by 18 organizations, which was prepared by LWBC in collaboration with CPIJ.

In 1982, the special unit of which Mr. Sosa Orantes was an officer entered the Guatemalan village of Las Dos Erres and massacred almost the entire civilian population, systematically exterminating men, women, children and newborns. Ramiro Osorio Cristales, then five years old, was one of only two survivors of this massacre.

In the statement, LWBC, CPIJ and the 18 supporting organizations call on:

  • the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program to review and document all allegations against Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes and to submit a request to the Attorney General of Canada to authorize a prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act;
  • the Attorney General of Canada to consent to the prosecution of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the massacre of Las Dos Erres;
  • the Canadian government to assume its responsibilities towards alleged war criminals in Canada by activating its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program and ensuring that it has the necessary means to implement Canada’s obligations to fight impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Between June and August 2021, LWBC and CPIJ made numerous calls to the government to take action on this issue. These calls went unanswered.

Canada was one of the first countries to support investigations into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion. This strong commitment to international criminal justice must be equally strong in Canada. It is time for the Canadian government to act with courage by taking concrete steps to bring Mr. Sosa Orantes to justice. It is not acceptable that Mr. Sosa Orantes – who Canada itself says has committed crimes against humanity – continues to live freely on Canadian soil without being held accountable for these crimes.


“I fled to Canada to live in safety, which I have been able to do for the past twenty years. This is no longer the case, one of the criminals who massacred my family, my friends, my village, lives freely in the country. Today, I am confident that the Canadian government will do the right thing: I ask the Minister of Justice, Mr. David Lametti, to initiate criminal proceedings against Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes.”

– Ramiro Osorio Cristales, survivor of the Las Dos Erres massacre

“Last June, we asked the government to act on the case of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes. Almost a year later, we are still waiting for the government to act. Today, 18 organizations are joining Lawyers Without Borders Canada in calling for the same thing. Simply revoking citizenship is not enough. To truly fight impunity, Canada must take its responsibilities and bring Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes to justice to face charges of crimes against humanity.

– Pascal Paradis, Executive Director of LWBC

View the complete press record here.

Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu to seek Justice for Climate Change damage before International Courts

By Communiqués de presse, News, Press Releases

Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda – Press Release

Edinburgh, October 31st, 2021…   The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda – current Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) – and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu today signed an historic accord that opens the way for ground-breaking litigation before international courts.  This offers a novel legal path to address the severe damage to Small Island States caused by climate change. 

The Agreement establishes a Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, creating a body for the development and implementation of fair and just global environmental norms and practices.  The Commission is also authorized to request advisory opinions from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the legal responsibility of States for carbon emissions, marine pollution, and rising sea levels.  

Membership in the Commission is open to all Small Island States whose leaders have long complained about the absence of effective mechanisms for States most responsible for climate change to compensate for the resulting loss and damage. 

At the signing ceremony in Edinburgh, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, explained that: “Small Island States’ emission of greenhouse gases is negligible, but they bear the overwhelming burden of its catastrophic effects, including persistent destruction, repeated costs of rebuilding and huge debts to finance resilience.  This injustice must end.    We insist that those States most responsible for this dire situation respect their legal obligations to stop global warming and to provide compensation to its victims.  The time for empty promises is over.”  Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, stressed that: “For us, climate justice is a matter of survival.  Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, the decline of marine resources – these threaten our very existence.  We see better than anyone else what is being done to our beautiful planet.  It is time to put words into action, to save Small Island States, and to save the world from impending disaster.” 

The legal counsel to the Commission, Professor Payam Akhavan of Massey College, University of Toronto, and Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, said that: “Small Island States are the canary in the coalmine of climate catastrophe.  Their fate is a warning to all humankind that the disastrous consequences of global warming are happening now, not in a distant future.  The fundamental principle of international law not to cause harm to others has now taken on an unprecedented dimension.  This historic initiative to pursue climate justice should be welcome by all who care about the future of our planet.” 

For media enquires please contact:

Read the Agreement for the establishment of COSIS. (PDF, 3,6 Mo)

101 experts including CPIJ members sign an open letter supporting Bill C-262

By Communiqués de presse, News

May 8, 2019 – On Monday, a group of 101 experts including 15 members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) sent an open letter to the Senate to demonstrate their support to Bill C-262. This historic bill aims at ensuring that Canadian laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The adoption of this bill is likely to make Canada the first country to harmonize its national laws with this Declaration.

This letter, co-sponsored by CPIJ Co-Director Fannie Lafontaine, Beverly Jacobs (University of Windsor) and Bernard Duhaime (UQÀM), urges Senators to proceed swiftly with Bill C-262. It asks them to toss away any unfounded fears and doubts that would impede its swift examination by the Senate, so it can be passed and be part of Canadian law before the end of the current parliamentary session.

Bill C-262, a private member bill tabled by Romeo Saganash, was adopted by the House of Commons on May 30, 2018. This adoption was hailed as a victory for the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is only eleven months later, on April 30, 2019, that the Senate finally announced the referral of the bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. The bill is currently scheduled for debate before this Committee on May 14.

The 15 CPIJ members who have signed the open letter are Fannie Lafontaine, Payam Akhavan, Amanda Ghahremani, Mark Kersten, François J. Larocque, Janine Lespérance, Valerie Oosterveld, Frederick John Packer, Pascal Paradis, Penelope Simons, James G. Stewart, Alain-Guy Tachou Sipowo et Jo-Anne Wemmers, as well as members of the coordination team Érick Sullivan and Catherine Savard.

Read the open letter here.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada Organizes an Event on the Fight against Impunity in Mali

By Communiqués de presse, News, Press Releases

CPIJ Co-Researcher Janine Lespérance and Abdoulaye Doucouré. (Photo by Catherine Savard)

5 December 2018 – On this first day of the 17th Assembly of State Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which takes place from 5 to 12 December 2018, in The Hague (Netherlands), CPIJ partner organization Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC) organized a side-event on the fight against impunity in Mali, titled “Réconciliation et lutte contre l’impunité au Mali : un faux dilemme” (“Reconciliation and Fight against Impunity in Mali: A false dilemma”).

At the occasion of this event sponsored by Canada, who was represented by the Head of Canada’s Delegation at the ASP, Mr. Alan Kessel, CPIJ Co-Researcher Janine Lespérance moderated a panel composed of Mr. Abdoulaye Doucouré, LWBC Transitional Justice Coordinator in Mali, and Ms. Bouaré Bintou Founé Samaké, President of the Malian division of the organization Women in Law and Development in Africa.

The event discussed the possibility for victims of international crimes perpetrated in Mali since the start of the armed conflict in 2012 to have access justice, thus deepening the reflection initiated at the occasion of a side-event organized during the 17th ASP in 2017.

Alan Kessel presented introductive remarks. (Photo by Catherine Savard)

After introductive remarks were presented by Mr. Kessel, discussions critically explored the draft law on “national understanding”, which was recently transmitted to the Malian National Assembly to be discussed on 13 December 2018. LWBC declared itself highly concerned by the possible adoption of this bill, which would open the door for an amnesty to be granted to authors of serious crimes perpetrated during the armed conflict which raged in this country.

The permanent insecurity that prevails in many northern communities and that has recently spread in the center of Mali was identified as a major hindrance for victims to have access to justice. It was further highlighted that sexual and gender-based violence are rampant and rarely ever denounced.

(Photo by Érick Sullivan)

Since 2015, LWBC has been active in Mali in the context of the project “Justice, prévention et réconciliation” (“Justice, Prevention and Reconciliation” or JUPREC). This project is made possible thanks to Global Affairs Canada’s financial support, and is implemented by LWBC in consortium with the Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale and the École nationale d’administration publique.

Registration for Lawyers Without Borders Canada’s Annual Forum is now open

By Communiqués de presse, News, Upcoming Events

9 November 2018 –The Annual Forum of Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), whose theme this year is “Human Rights, economic activities and indigenous peoples, comparative perspective” will take place on 22 November 2018, at the Québec Augustinian Monastery. Open to law practitioners as well as students, LWBC’s Annual Forum represents an exceptional opportunity to actively take part in high level exchanges on very important and topical issues. The six-hour training offered by LWBC is recognized by the Quebec Bar and allows to understand, exchange and network with agents of change working all around the globe on issues related to human rights, economic law and indigenous law. Further, LWBC’s General Assembly, which is open to anyone interested in learning about the organization, will take place from 12:15 to 1:45 pm. The day will end with a cocktail reception which will highlight those who, in Canada, use law as an instrument for change and world development.

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice, the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights and the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic are proud to be diffusion partners for this event which promises to be fascinating. It is possible to register until the 16th of November, and students enjoy a reduced fare of 40$ for the day upon presentation of their student card. The Canadian Partnership for International justice, through Lawyers Without Borders Canada, will allow a few students residing outside Quebec City to travel to the Augustinian Monastery Museum at reduced fees.

The full program of the event and registration procedures can be accessed online here.


We look forward to seeing you there!

The Partnership, Clinic and Chair teams


N.B. The event will be in French.

Results of the Canada-Wide Blog Contest: the Future of International Criminal Justice

By Communiqués de presse, News, Press Releases, Student News

5 November 2018 – The Canadian Partnership for International Justice, the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, and the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic are happy to proclaim the winners of the Canada-Wide Blog Contest on the future of international criminal justice.

The selection was made by a bilingual committee of distinguished professors and professionals in international criminal law. The evaluation was based on the following criteria: respect of the theme, originality of the subject and of the way it is addressed, rigor of the research, quality of the writing and style, form and language.

Many contributions were received during the contest. Written in English or in French, by one person or by a team, these contributions were of high quality and evidence the Canadian students’ capacity to vulgarize and communicate ideas on international criminal justice.

The winner blogposts’ authors will receive their prize and see their post published on the Quid Justitiae blog in the coming days. The authors of the other blogposts may decide to submit it to the Quid Justitiae blog and get it published after the applicable editing process.

Watch the Quid Justitiae website as well as the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Partnership, Chair and Clinic to read the blogposts.

We warmly thank all participants to the contest!

Winners of the Contest

1st position (total prize of 500 $)

Pierre-Gabriel Stefanaggi

La C.D.I. fête ses 70 ans : Importance et actualité de la codification du droit pour la justice pénale africaine

2nd position (total prize of 250 $)

Rosine Faucher

Transcending Verticality: Stark need & small hope

3nd position (total prize of 100 $)

Manon Creusot et Catherine Savard

Repenser la justice internationale pénale dans le contexte des 20 ans du Statut de Rome : des solutions nécessaires pour combler le vide juridique entourant le sort des acquittés


Spotlight on the Partnership’s Attendance to the 16th Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court

By Communiqués de presse, News, Press Releases No Comments

The 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the Canadian Partnership for International Justice attended, is already over. Summary of two eventful weeks.

The ASP started its work on December 4 with a plenary opening session where the main issues of the 16th session were discussed, namely the election of six judges and members of the Bureau, the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, situations of non-cooperation, the relation between the Court and State Parties (in particular African States) and the remedies granted to victims of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Later this day, after the first round of voting, the Assembly elected two judges, Ms. Tomoko Akane from Japan and Ms Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza from Peru. The Partnership delegates then attended a side event on the professionalization of investigations in relation to international crimes. This first day ended with a reception organized by Amnesty International to launch their new platform “Human Rights in International Justice”.

During the second day of the ASP, three more women judges were elected: Reine Alapini-Gansou, from Bénin; Solomy Balungi Bossa, from Ouganda; and Kimberly Prost, from Canada. The Partnership delegation attended many side events, including one related to reparative justice that highlighted that the full realization of the complementarity principle cannot be achieved without the respect of the rights of victims of international crimes.

The Partnership delegates started the third day of the ASP hoping that the election of judges could be completed so the Assembly could move on to address other issues. Their wish came true when Rosario Salvatore Aitala, from Italy, was the sixth and last judge to be elected after the ninth round of voting. In the end, the voting process was a lot faster than in 2014, to the benefit of the Partnership’s delegates. They took the opportunity to meet with the co-researcher Mark Kersten to discuss issues related to international justice. Furthermore, the side event to which the delegates attended that day touched topics such as the national jurisdictions’ role in the fight against impunity, the importance of dissuasion and the role of the ICC in the current human rights violations, issues related to the cooperation of Côte d’Ivoire with the ICC, issues related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and the qualification of ecocide as a crime against humanity.

On the fourth day, the delegates carefully listened to the speeches pronounced by the representatives of State Parties, which intervened during the plenary session to publicly express their position on different topics, including the crimes of aggression and the budget, and to carry out messages to the world and to their colleagues. The delegates also attended side events discussing the second anniversary of the African Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA), the drafted multilateral treaty for most serious international crimes, the particularities of the Nuremberg Principles Academy and the possibility of an ICC intervention to judge extrajudicial killings related to drug offences in the Philippines. Furthermore, in the context of celebrations related to the 15th anniversary of the ICC in 2017 and the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2018, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) launched in the evening the Gender Justice Legacy Wall, on which the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld’s name appears, jointly with extraordinary women and men who worked for this cause. During this event, Ms. Brigid Inder received a special award for her work within WIGJ, which she leaves after nearly 15 years of implication.

During the fifth and last day the the first week of the ASP16, non-State Parties to the Rome Statute and members of the civil society presented their declaration to the ASP. Then, the Partnership delegates had the great pleasure to informally discuss issues related to international justice with the president elected Judge O-Gon Kwon. They also took part to the launch of the study “Congolese Jurisprudence Concerning International Law Crimes” (« La jurisprudence congolaise en matière de crimes de droit international ») and of the ICC Prosecutor’s annual report on preliminary investigations conducted in 2017. The day ended with a side event on the situation in Burundi following the opening of an ICC investigation, which was followed by an expert panel discussion on immunities in international law, moderated by Mark Kersten.

After a week-end busy with the writing of blogposts, reports and publications of all kinds, the Partnership delegates were back at the United Nations Headquarters on Monday, December 11, for the sixth day of the ASP. The discussions in the plenary sessions, to which they attended, concerned cooperation and the drafted amendments to the Rome Statute. Furthermore, the day war particularly rich in side events, since the partner Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized an event on the progress made in relation to the fight against impunity in Mali. The delegation also reflected the ICC’s role in accountability for grave crimes committed in Ukraine, the progress made in the drafting of an international convention on crimes against humanity, and the role if the Security Council and the ASP in the improvement of the cooperation between the State Parties and the ICC. Later on, in the afternoon, the delegates visited the the UN Headquarters, which was both an instructive and entertaining activity. This eventful day ended with a reception in which an expert panel discussed the relations between the ICC and Africa, and by the presentation of a film on the formation of journalists in the field of international justice.

Fannie Lafontaine joined the delegation for the 7th and 8th days ASP, enriching it with her stunning expertise and her contagious dynamism. The seventh day was of particular importance for the delegates, who were eager to meet with Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration. After conversing with her for nearly one hour, the delegates attended the plenary session discussions about the drafted resolutions to be adopted by the Assembly at the end of the week. The Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also presented her report concerning the current situation in Darfur. Later the same day, Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized a second event in as many days, this time concerning the challenges of the Colombian peace process. Other side events of the day led the delegates to reflect on ways to improve gender equality in the ICC personal, the use of SGBV as a method of warfare, and the fight against impunity of SGBV in Centrafrican Republic, Colombia, DRC and Iraq. In the end of the afternoon, the delegation was pleased to meet with Catherine Boucher, legal advisor at the Permanent Mission of Canada in the UN. The content of this discussion must remain confidential; however, delegated truly appreciated to get to know this women engaged in the practice of law.

The highlight of the eighth day of the ASP was the side event organized by the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld, addressing prosecutions of SGBV within the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Described by many as the best side event of the week, it brought together an expert panel moderated by the Partnership co-director Fannie Lafontaine. After this resounding success, the delegated met with the Canadian judge Kimberly Prost, who was just elected at the ICC, and asked her various questions about her career and, notably, her opinion on issues currently faced by the Court. During that day, delegated also had the occasion to attend side events related to the creation of an Inter-American Criminal Court to judge issues related to organized crime, and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of landmines.

To say that the ninth and last day of the ASP was expected by all would be an euphemism. The eyes of the whole world were on the ASP16, expecting a historical decision: the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction on the crime of aggression. After adopting resolutions concerning the Registrar’s election, the Assembly had lengthy negotiations behind closed doors on the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction. These negotiations were planned to last until 6pm, but lasted a lot longer since no consensus could be reach in the time allowed. It was impossible to know when they would come to an end, and the delegates knew that if they left the UN Headquarters, they could not go back in before the next morning due to restrictions on access to the building. On the other hand, the food available there was very limited, and all were starving. The delegates decided to remain on the site, determined to do everything they could to attend this historical event. It is only at 9:30pm that the NGOs could have access to the plenary session to witness the deliberations. A last drafted resolution not opened to negotiations was submitted to the appreciation of States. Minutes later, a mistake was found in the wording of the third article, and a new version was transmitted. After a long pause allowing some discussions to happen, many States made declarations. It is only at that moment that the Partnership delegates noticed, not without a certain pride, that they were the only non-State representatives left at the Assembly. Their patience was finally rewarded when, a little before 10pm, the resolution was adopted without modification, and, importantly, by consensus! The subsequent State declarations watered the ambient joy, as they expressed their will not to be bound by the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The plenary continued in the night until 2:30am, under the delegates’ attentive eyes, which were still very awake.

The delegates unanimously share the opinion that they will keep an imperishable memory of their attendance to the 16th ASP of the ICC. This event was extremely enriching, on the professional as well as on the personal level, and the skill acquired as well as the people met will never be forgotten. The delegation wants to emphasize the exceptional work of Erick Sullivan, which coordinated all its activities both before, during and after the ASP, and revised each and every publication made by every delegate, making sure at the same time that everyone’s attendance to the ASP was a most positive and unforgettable experience.


Catherine Savard

© Photos by Maxime Mariage