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News

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.

Quotes

“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.

2022 Katia-Boustany Conference «Faire et quitter son nid: retour vers le futur du droit international pénal et humanitaire»

By | News, Upcoming Events

On February 22, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the SQDI’s 2022 Katia-Boustany Conferene invites you to travel back in time with professors William A. Schabas and Eric David!

Moderated by Professors Julia Grignon and Fannie Lafontaine, the lecture will revisit the most significant developments of the last 40 years in international criminal and humanitarian law, and will consider the different challenges that these fields of international law will face in the next 4 decades.

The conference is the work of a broad partnership, co-organized at Université Laval by the SQDI, the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Fundamental Rights, the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, the Osons le DIH! partnership development, the research project on the extraterritorial application of international human rights law, and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice, in collaboration with Quid Justitiae.

The conference will be presented online on the Zoom platform. Free admission.

Certificates of attendance will be issued to registered participants only.

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: COSIS.COP26@gmail.com

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

extradition

Changing Canada’s Extradition Laws: The Halifax Colloquium’s Proposals for Law Reform

By | News

The report released in October 2021 states the Canadian process for sending people to face prosecution and incarceration abroad is riddled with shortcomings that make the system inherently unjust.

The recommendations for change come from the Halifax Colloquium on Extradition Law Reform at Dalhousie University in September 2018, which brought together academics, defence counsel and human rights organizations.

Funding for the Halifax Colloquium on Extradition Law Reform was provided by the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ). The Colloquium was hosted and hospitality was provided by the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy, Dalhousie University. The Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) at the University of Ottawa kindly arranged for translation of this document.

This document was prepared by Professor Robert J. Currie of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, and represents the consensus of the participants in the colloquium.

Read the report. (PDF, 300 Ko)

Fannie Lafontaine

Professor Fannie Lafontaine takes honors in Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers

By | News

Professor Fannie Lafontaine, a full professor at the Faculty of Law of Université Laval, chair of the Canada Research Chair in International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, Director of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice and Co-Director of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, has been recognized by Canadian Lawyer Magazine in its prestigious annual Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers.

Competing in the Government/Non-Profits/Associations category, she was named one of 25 lawyers and judges from across the country who have made a significant contribution to their profession and to Canadian society, a well-deserved honor.

Canadian Lawyer Magazine, which received 22,409 votes this year, reports a praise received on Professor Lafontaine: “Fannie Lafontaine’s analysis of genocide, as well as her impactful reports and interventions, are having huge impacts on the narrative surrounding the First Nations’ human rights violations in Canada”.

In recent years, Fannie Lafontaine has played an unprecedented role as an independent civilian observer of the police investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by police officers against Indigenous people across Quebec. Her expertise brought to light the existence of systemic racism in the police force towards Indigenous peoples in Quebec, contributing to the creation of the Viens Commission of Inquiry. In this role, rendered necessary  by a serious social crisis, she helped develop principles for assessing the integrity and impartiality of police investigations against other police officers, particularly in an Indigenous context.

She was also the lead drafter of the Supplementary Report to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, “A Legal Analysis on Genocide.” The report sparked a discussion countrywide and received wide international coverage, including at the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The painful discoveries of missing children from former residential schools across Canada further validate the importance and relevant of her analysis .

Fannie Lafontaine’s recent contributions are at the heart of some of the most pressing legal and societal issues in Canada and have influenced how colonial violence and systemic racism against Indigenous peoples can be named, addressed and deconstructed.

Congratulations to Fannie Lafontaine!

Fannie Lafontaine

Intership Opening at ASFC

By | News, Student opportunity

ASFCAvocats sans frontières Canada (ASFC) est à la recherche d’une personne engagée, dynamique et ouverte sur le monde qui veut contribuer à faire de l’accès à la justice un moyen de changement. Le/la stagiaire en droit appuie l’équipe du siège social d’ASFC pour plusieurs aspects juridiques des programmes de coopération internationale et des appels à propositions.

Titre du poste : Stagiaire en droit
Emplacement : Ville de Québec ou télétravail, selon les fonctions occupées
Date limite pour postuler 30 août 2021 à 23h59
Durée : Quatre mois (avec possibilité de prolongation)
Début : Septembre 2021
Conditions de stage : Stage rémunéré – 20 heures par semaine
Nombre de postes : 2

Consultez l’offre de stage pour en savoir plus.

2021 International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

By | News, Upcoming Events

May 24 to June 11, 2021

Distance course

What? The International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school will bring together internationally renowned experts, and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice.

This course serves to train and engage students and professionals in the areas of law, criminology, and related disciplines in key issues regarding the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power.

Topics include reparation of victims of crimes against humanity, addressing the needs of victims of sexual violence in the courts, how courts handle victims who at the same time are perpetrators, as well as the place of victims in transitional justice.

This distance course includes live discussion sessions with international experts. Each morning includes interactive seminars presented by different experts. These discussions last one hour and thirty minutes and follow a pre-recorded and previewed lecture by the participants as well as the reading of texts recommended by the speakers.

For whom? The course is intended for graduate and exceptional undergraduate students in the areas of law, criminology, and related disciplines at the Université de Montréal, as well as other universities in Quebec, Canada and abroad. It is also intended for interested professionals, including lawyers working in the field of international criminal law.

By whom? Course leader: Jo-Anne Wemmers (Université de Montréal). Lectures by: Fannie Lafontaine (Université Laval), Valerie Oosterveld (Western University), Mylène Jaccoud (Université de Montréal), Gilbert Bitti (ICC Pre-Trial Division), Mark A. Drumbl (Washington and Lee University), Miriam Cohen (Université de Montréal), Amissi Manirabona (Université de Montréal), Isabelle Daignault (Université de Montréal), Bilkis Vissandjée (Université de Montréal), Me Annick Legault, Stephan Parmentier (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Antony Pemberton (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven). Special guests: Joseph Bitamba (indpendant director, producer and writer, Toronto) and Lawyers Without Borders Canada.

Language
The school is bilingual (French-English). Students are expected to be fluent in French or English and to have at least a passive understanding of the other language. Students may submit their work in French or English.

Registration
Students can choose either to obtain 3 credits (meeting all the requirements) or obtain 1.5 credits (attending lectures and doing only part of the assignments). Undergraduate students are required to have the authorization of their program director, an average of 3.5 out of 4.3 and have completed at least 60 university credits before enrolling.

Register now!

University of Montreal students can register for PLU courses by contacting their program’s student records clerk.
Students from other Quebec universities must complete the online application form available on the BCI website (formerly the CREPUQ).
Non-Quebec, foreign or non-certified Canadian students are invited to see the instructions on the CÉRIUM website: https://cerium.umontreal.ca/etudes

Registration Fees

All fees are in Canadian Dollar.

• Government and business employees: $1,200
• General public (employees, retirees, self-employed): $1,000
• NPO and NGO: $500
• Uncredited or outside Quebec students: $475
• Daily rates: $350

(Rates may change)

CPIJ is offering 4 scholarships to graduate students from developing countries and countries in transition to attend this online school. See here for more information.

For more information about the course as well as details about how to register: https://cerium.umontreal.ca/en/programs-of-study/

CPIJ Publishes an Expert Commentary on the Al Hassan Case

By | News, Press Releases

10 July 2020 – On 14 July 2020, the trial of Al Hassan Ag Abdul Aziz (Al Hassan) will begin before the International Criminal Court, marking a major step in the fight against impunity for international crimes committed in Mali. Experts from the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) prepared a commentary analyzing the Decision on the Confirmation of Chargesissued on 30 September 2019, as well as the most recent developments in this case. 

Al Hassan was a member of the coalition formed by the armed groups Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He will face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the Timbuktu region between 1 April 2012 and 28 January 2013. CPIJ’s Expert Commentary highlights some of the most salient aspects of this important case, including the admissibility of the case in light of the gravity criteria and the accused’s hierarchical level, the precision of the charges, the application of international humanitarian law, the charges of crimes against humanity and the systematic character of the attacks, the historic confirmation of the charge of crimes against humanity of gender-based persecution as well as the respect for the rights of the accused. 

This Expert Commentary was published this week in English and in French as four posts on the blog Quid Justitiae (hereherehere and here). The full version is now available online on both CPIJ’s and Lawyers Without Borders Canada’s institutional websites. 

Read the Expert Commentary here.

Remembering David Petrasek

By | News, Press Releases

It is with immense sadness that we have heard of the passing of CPIJ co-researcher David Petrasek this week, following his battle with cancer.

David was an esteemed colleague and a friend. As a leading expert in human rights, humanitarian law, and conflict resolution, he notably served at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at Amnesty International, and as a professor at the University of Ottawa. Member of the Partnership since its creation, he shared insightful perspectives on criminal remedies and judicial diplomacy, notably at the 15th Assembly of State Parties, as he co-headed the Partnership’s delegation. His brilliant career reflected his values of empathy and humanity, as well as a tireless commitment to advancing human rights both within Canada and globally.

On behalf of every member of the Partnership, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. David will be missed by the entire human rights community and by each one of us in our Partnership. We promise to keep working to uphold and defend the values he cherished and fought for.

(Image: University of Ottawa)

Student Projects: Funding Available

By | Funding Opportunities, News

Student training is important for the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ). This is why CPIJ notably funds students to take part each year in the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court, the Canadian Council on International Law’s Annual Conference, the ICC Moot Court Competition, and many other educational activities and events.

CPIJ encourages student initiatives and may support them financially. Students may apply to CPIJ to, for example, take part in a summer school, participate in a law-related competition, attend a conference or be involved in any other professional activity related to CPIJ’s mandate. The students selected for funding then become members of CPIJ’s student group.

CPIJ adapts to the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Until travel restrictions are lifted, online activities taking place outside the student’s home institution will be eligible to receive funding.

Admissibility requirements

A request is prepared by the student. To be presented to the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee for its consideration, the following conditions of admissibility must be met:

  • The request is presented by a student in international law or in a field related to CPIJ’s Research Program;
  • The request is sufficiently documented to allow the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee to appreciate its nature and importance for the student;
  • The request must include a detailed project plan and, if possible, the event’s agenda, registration confirmation, and an estimate of the admissible expenses;
  • The request must explain: the student’s link to CPIJ; the link between the project and CPIJ’s Research Program; the nature of the project and the expected learning outcomes; the relevance of the project with respect to the student’s development and goals; and the amount and purpose of any funding previously received from CPIJ.

Funding requirements

Those students selected for funding must comply with the following requirements:

  • The student must provide consent, unless an exception is justified, for CPIJ’s use and dissemination of the student’s texts, pictures and other outcomes of the project, with acknowledgement.
  • The student must respect the rules and regulations of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), CPIJ’s funding organization. For example, these rules do not permit funded individuals to be compensated for blogposts or other forms of publication.
  • The student will acknowledge CPIJ and SSHRC’s financial support in blogposts and other relevant fora.
  • The student must write a minimum of one 1000 to 1500-word blogpost, which will be published on any of the following platforms, at the choice of the student: Quid JustitiæIntLawGrrlsJustice in Conflict or the Philip Kirsch Institute’s Global Justice Journal. The blogpost shall comply with the rules related to the chosen platform. The post shall be written before, during, or within a reasonable time after, the project completion.

The following expenses are admissible:[1]

  • Registration fees to attend the online activity.

Regarding online summer schools, please note that tuition fees specifically related to earning academic credits are not eligible.

 Selection criteria

In choosing which projects to fund, the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee will consider the:

  • Link between the project and CPIJ’s Research Program;
  • Nature of the project and the expected learning outcome;
  • Relevance of the project with respect to the student’s training development and goals;
  • Link between the student(s) and CPIJ; and
  • Amount and purpose of any funding previously asked for and received from CPIJ.

How to apply?

To request funding, students shall fill the following form.

The Scholarship and Student Funding Committee meets four times per year to review and select projects for funding. The committee meets on:

  • November 1st;
  • February 1st;
  • May 1st;
  • August 1st*.

*The deadline for the fall 2021 has been moved to October 1, 2021.

Results are announced within one month following the Committee’s meeting. It is possible to submit a request at any moment throughout the year, but applicants should have these dates in mind to know the processing time of their request.

If funding is granted, the Partnership will provide the approved funding once the student is confirmed as attending the event (a registration confirmation can be required) and after ensuring that the expenses claimed are admissible. The Committee may approve the full, or a portion, of the amount requested. The approved amount may be paid in full or in instalments.

[1] An expense is admissible when it complies with the administrative requirements of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and of CPIJ’s host institution, Université Laval (www.sf.ulaval.ca). CPIJ could refuse to reimburse an expense that is not admissible or that subsequently becomes inadmissible after CPIJ initially accepted to fund the project. It is the student’s responsibility to verify the admissibility of the expenses. It is strongly encouraged to have all planned expenses pre-approved by CPIJ. Additional information can be provided on demand.