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CPIJ Members Contribute to National Inquiry into MMIWG’s Legal Analysis

By | News, Press Releases

5 June 2019 – On Monday, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) was made public at an official ceremony held in Ottawa. This report, which affirms that First Nations, Inuit and Metis are victims of genocide, is supported by a supplementary legal analysis produced to deal specifically with this issue.

The use of the term “genocide,” entailing far-reaching legal and political consequences, had a resounding impact within Canada and abroad. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted the use of the term “genocide” during the 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver. He had also pronounced that word the day before in his opening speech at this conference, but without officially accepting it.

The legal analysis supporting the MMIWG’s findings was elaborated in consultation with international legal scholars and lawyers with expertise on genocide and international crimes, including CPIJ members, namely Fannie Lafontaine (CPIJ Director), Amanda Ghahremani (Co-Researcher) and Catherine Savard (Assistant Coordinator).

The supplementary legal analysis on genocide contains the National Inquiry’s legal basis for determining that Canada has committed genocide against Indigenous Peoples. This analysis focuses on the responsibility of Canada as a state, and not on the responsibility of individuals. It explains that Canada’s genocide of Indigenous peoples was perpetrated through colonial structures and policies maintained by the Canadian state through centuries up until now. More precisely, it is the Canadian government’s actions and omissions, taken as a whole, that constitute this genocide. They imply the responsibility of the Canadian state under international law.

This MMIWG’s legal analysis insists on the fact that, contrary to the popular understanding, genocide encompasses both lethal and non-lethal acts, including acts of “slow death”, i.e., not leading to immediate death. In the Canadian colonial context, the intent to destroy Indigenous peoples was implemented gradually and intermittently through various policies targeting the distinct Indigenous communities. These policies compromised Indigenous peoples’ rights to life and security, as well as numerous economic, social and cultural rights. If such non-lethal acts differ from the traditional reductionist narrative on genocide, which is based on the Holocaust model, they are nonetheless included in the definition enshrined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The MMIWG analysis concludes that the Canadian violation of international law will continue as long as genocidal acts continue to occur and that destructive policies are upheld by the Canadian government. Under international law, Canada has a duty to remedy the harm caused, but first, it must put an end to the persistent manifestations of violence and oppression of Indigenous peoples. Ending this genocide and providing appropriate remedies requires the implementation of an honest and dynamic process to decolonize and indigenize Canadian structures, institutions, laws and policies, thus involving the full and timely implementation of the MMIWG Calls for Justice.

The MMIWG is a National Commission of Inquiry set up in September 2016 and charged with the mandate to examine and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals in Canada. Its work led to the conclusion that Canada’s genocide of Indigenous peoples constitutes a root cause of the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals.

The supplementary legal analysis of genocide is available in English and French.

The MMIWG’s Final Report is available here:

* The acronym 2SLGBTQQIA refers to two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual persons.

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.

Three students receive funding to attend the Siracusa Institute Specialization Course in ICL

By | News, Student News

April 2019 – On 11 April 2019, CPIJ’s Scholarship and Student Funding Committee proceeded to the selection of three students who will receive funding to attend the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights’ 19th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Penalists. This course will take place from 2 to 10 June 2019 in Siracusa (Italy).

While warmly thanking all applicants, the Partnership is glad to announce that the following students will benefit from CPIJ funding to attend the course:

This selection followed a widely shared call for applications which terminated on the 31st of March 2019. An extensive analysis of the numerous applications received led the Committee to select two students studying in Canada and one student from a developing or less developed country.

The Committee will meet again soon to analyze the applications related to the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Learn more about CPIJ funding for student projects here.

Congratulations to the recipients!

The Partnership Chairs reappointed

By | News

April 2019 – On 11 April 2019, the Partnership’s Governance Committee held a regular meeting. At this occasion, Partnership’s co-researchers and current Axis Chairs – namely Valerie Oosterveld (Axis 1), Penelope Simons (Axis 2) and Joanna Harrington (Axis 3) – confirmed their desire to pursue their mandate on the Governance Committee for an additional year. Their new term will end on 31 March 2020. The Committee also officially welcomed a new associate on the Partnership’s coordination team, Mélanie Dufresne.

The Partnership is led by two Co-Directors Fannie Lafontaine and Jayne Stoyles. Its structure includes 26 co-researchers and collaborators, whose actions are organized within 3 research axis. Each axis also includes student-researchers and is spearheaded by a Chair who may rotate on a yearly basis. The Governance Committee is composed of the Co-Directors, the Chairs and a representative of a NGO partner, Pascal Paradis (Avocats sans frontières Canada). The coordination team provides support to the Committee’s work.

CPIJ welcomes Sharry Aiken and Joseph Rikhof

By | News, Press Releases

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) is pleased to announce the addition of Profs. Sharry Aiken and Joseph Rikhof in its project team, respectively as a Co-Researcher and as a Collaborator.

Associate Professor at Queen’s Law University, Sharry Aiken has spent a great deal of her career advocating for human rights and social justice. Her outstanding expertise on immigration and refugee law has led her to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of precedent setting immigration cases, such as the Charkaoui, Harkat and Almrei cases. Past president of the Canadian Council for Refugees and former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Center for International Justice (CCIJ), Prof. Aiken will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to Axis 3 of CPIJ Research Program.

Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa (Common Law Section), Prof. Rikhof has served as Senior Counsel and Manager of the Law with the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, Canada. His area of expertise includes the law related to organized crime, terrorism, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially in the context of immigration and refugee law. Prof. Rikhof has collaborated regularly with CPIJ since its creation, having notably been involved in the expert meeting CPIJ organized on the collaboration between national prosecuting authorities (NPAs) and NGOs in the prosecution of international crimes, which took place in March 2018. He also collaborated with CCIJ and the Philippe Kirsch Institute on many occasions.

Welcome in the team!

Fannie Lafontaine and François Larocque publish a collective work in honor of Louise Arbour

By | News

CPIJ members Fannie Lafontaine (Université Laval) and François Larocque (Université d’Ottawa) publish a collective work in honour of Louise Arbour at Intersentia, titled “Doing Peace the Rights Way – Essays in International Law and Relations in Honour of Louise Arbour“.

Including a foreword of the former UN Secretary general Kofi Annan, this collective work addresses the most topical issues in the field of international law and relations. Authors are leading experts and renowned actors on the international scene or within national jurisdictions, who all maintained close contact with Louise Arbour through her career. Louise Arbour had an important impact on the development of international law and played an important role in international institutions, as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Executive Director of the International Crisis Group and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on International Migrations. She also held the highest judicial function in Canada and has helped to shape Canadian law as an academic and as a judge, sitting on the Supreme Court of Canada. Louise Arbour is a leading expert in the fields of conflict prevention and resolution, criminal justice, human rights.

This unique collection of essays written by leading experts addresses fundamental issues such as the right to the truth, torture, immunities and women’s rights in the context of recent and current events. It also questions basic assumptions and sheds new light on crucial issues that are at the core of the world’s agenda. Interactions between justice and peace, human rights and conflicts, law and politics, both within the international or national context, are at the heart of each contribution.

Doing Peace the Rights Way brings together great minds, in the honor of a justice and human rights champion and ambassador, in the hope that their vision of the most topical and important issues of our time can help to bring closer ideals of peace and justice for all.

With contributions from Andrew Clapham, William Schabas, Tity Agbahey, Gilles Olakounlé Yabi, Alana Klein, Hina Jilani, J. Michael Spratt, Pablo Espiniella, James K. Stewart, Mona Rishmawi, Lisa N. Oldring, Fannie Lafontaine, Luc Côté, François Larocque, Tim McCormack, Fabrizio Hochschild, Philip Alston, Antonia Potter Prentice, Camille Marquis Bissonnette, Kim Pate and Natasha Bakht.

SNC-Lavalin case shows why we should review foreign corruption laws

By | CPIJ in the Media, News

Joanna Harrington | The Conversation

26 February 2019 – The controversy in Canada involving Québec-based corporate giant SNC-Lavalin highlights the need for a parliamentary review of the legal scheme for fighting foreign corruption.

Underpinning the scandal is a corporate criminal prosecution for the alleged bribery of Libyan officials by SNC-Lavalin officials and the question of a plea deal. Since corporations cannot do jail time, a fine is the obvious punishment. But how large should the fine be, and with what consequences? Should SNC-Lavalin be barred from consideration for future government contracts?

The SNC-Lavalin headquarters in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

It was only in 1999 — almost 20 years to the day of the Globe and Mail‘s report about allegations that Canada’s former attorney general felt pressured to help SNC-Lavalin — that the bribery of a foreign public official became a crime under Canadian law.

Until then, paying a bribe or kickback to secure a contract abroad was seen as the cost of doing business in a foreign land.

Pushed as a fast-tracked initiative, with all-party support, passage of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was a foregone conclusion. Introduced in the Senate in December 1998, the law received only two days of parliamentary consideration, before it was brought into force in February 1999.

Speedy passage, however, meant that Parliament had not set aside any time to consider the more delicate details, such as the role of plea deals to save court time. And parliamentarians had failed to consider the question of who are the victims of foreign corruption, because plea deals are likely to involve the payment of a victim surcharge to fund victims assistance programs.

Why was Canada so keen to rush this new law into place? The answer lies in international pressure.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

In mid-1998, Canada and other G8 states made a commitment to ratify the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention before the year’s end. The OECD is the international club of countries with advanced economies.

It was this keenness to join that led Canadian parliamentarians to accept the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, the legislation that put into motion the OECD convention’s terms. Those terms include a provision that the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery “shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another State or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved.”

Canada also accepted the supply-side focus of the OECD’s approach — often called active bribery — as it focuses on the conduct of the one offering the bribes. But the demand side of foreign bribery isn’t always passive if an individual recipient encourages a corporate payment, and so the demand-side aspect is worthy of further parliamentary review in Canada.

Indeed, after a study in 2008, the Law Commission of England and Walesconcluded there should be two general offences of bribery, one for the conduct of the payer and the other for the conduct of the recipient.

Illegal to offer rewards to foreign officials

Corruption takes a variety of forms, with bribery being the standard offence for addressing corruption in the public sphere.

With the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in place, it is illegal to offer undue rewards to foreign public officials to obtain improper advantages in the conduct of international business. The act has created work for business lawyers offering compliance advice.

There have been few convictions under Canada’s anti-rbribe. Shutterstock

But the act has also fostered disappointment. In 20 years, there have only been four convictions. Three convictions, secured by guilty pleas, have involved Alberta-based companies in the oil-and-gas sector, while the fourth concerned an Ottawa-based individual in the technology sector.

There’s rarely any mention of the tally of closed investigations, acquittals and stayed proceedings. That tally includes the 2017 acquittal of several people associated with SNC-Lavalin and a bridge development project in Bangladesh; the same bridge project that led to SNC-Lavalin’s negotiated acceptance of World Bank debarment in 2013.

Critiques lead to amendments

Criticism of Canada’s performance under the act has resulted in amendments in 2013. And in 2014, new transparency measures were imposed on the natural resources sector.

In 2017, the law’s reach was extended, at last, to cover all forms of bribes, and in 2018, a Canadian version of the deferred prosecution agreement, pioneered in the United States, was added to prosecutors’ toolboxes.

But Canada’s legislative scheme has not kept pace with the multi-jurisdictional realities of fighting foreign corruption.

In its 2018 annual report to Parliament, Global Affairs Canada continued to hail the $10.3 million fine paid by Griffiths Energy International as “the largest to date under the CFPOA.” But no mention is made of the English Court of Appeal’s assessment that this was a “relatively modest sum” given the surge in share value for the successor company in the United Kingdom.

Corruption violates integrity

It is often said that “corruption is not a victimless crime.”

And no less a body than the Supreme Court of Canada has opined that: “Corruption … undermines confidence in public institutions, diverts funds from those who are in great need of financial support, and violates business integrity.”

But more work is needed from Parliament on the definition of a victim. Past plea deals have included the payment of sizeable victim surcharge fees into provincial victims-of-crime funds.

But how do these funds offer assistance to the victims of foreign bribery in, say, Bangadesh or Chad, or to a company’s employees in Canada?

Lastly, there is the larger question, now ripe for review, about the hope placed on using criminal law to secure the often-stated goal of securing a level playing field for Canadian companies operating abroad.

CPIJ Co-Researchers Payam Akhavan and Frédéric Mégret promoted Full Professors

By | News

25 february 2019 – The Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Professor Payam Akhavan and Professor Frédéric Mégret have been promoted to the rank of Full Professor, effective 1 March 2019.

Professor Akhavan teaches and researches on public international law, international dispute settlement, international criminal law, human rights, and cultural pluralism. He received the degrees of Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) and a Master of Laws (LLM) from Harvard Law School after obtaining an LLB at Osgoode Hall Law School. Prior to joining McGill, he was a senior fellow at Yale Law School and a UN prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at the Hague, making significant contributions to their foundational jurisprudence. In 2017, he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey, in five different Canadian cities. His companion book was a #1 bestseller (non-fiction) in Canada.

Professor Mégret’s interests lie in international criminal justice, international human rights law, the law of international organizations, transitional justice, and general international law. He was named a William Dawson Scholar by McGill University in March 2015 and held the Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from 2006 to 2015. He served as associate dean (research) at the Faculty of Law from 2012 to 2015. Before developing an interest in international criminal law and humanitarian law, he completed a stint as a member of the United Nations Protection Force deployed in Sarajevo. He holds a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International Studies (University of Geneva)/Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I), a Maîtrise de droit privé from Université de Paris I, and an LLB from King’s College, London.

“As acknowledged in glowing terms by the external experts consulted, Professor Akhavan and Professor Mégret have emerged as two of the world’s leading voices in international criminal law,” underscored Dean Robert Leckey on sharing the news. “Their careers are a vivid illustration of the capacity of imaginative legal research to change our ideas and actions. I look forward to their continued outstanding contributions to this field of pressing importance.”

Offre d’emploi – Chargé.e de projets en justice internationale

By | News

26 février 2019 – Le Partenariat canadien pour la justice internationale, la Chaire de recherche sur la justice internationale pénale et les droits fondamentaux et la Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire s’associent pour offrir deux postes occasionnels de chargé.e de projets (auxiliaires de recherche) à temps plein, basés à l’Université Laval, du 6 mai au 1er septembre 2019.

Les chargé.e.s de projets assisteront les équipes de coordination de la Clinique, de la Chaire et du Partenariat durant 16 semaines à raison de 35 heures par semaine. Ils ou elles devront : gérer les communications (sites web et médias sociaux); collecter des données sur les activités de partenaires; rédiger des rapports sur l’état des connaissances et des activités; planifier et organiser des conférences et d’autres types d’événements similaires; mener des recherches et rédiger des documents en droit international pénal, humanitaire et des droits de la personne; assister les responsables dans la préparation de leurs activités de supervision; produire divers documents de vulgarisation, d’information et de reddition de compte.

Postulez avant le 4 mars 2019 sur le site du Service de placement de l’Université Laval (Offre 292428 – Auxiliaire de recherche – Chargé de projets – Justice internationale).

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.

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]

  • Transportation (e.g. plane, train or bus ticket, gasoline receipts);
  • Accommodation;
  • Meals;
  • Registration for the event.

 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 1 November, 1 February, 1 April, and 1 August.

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.