Participate to the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School!

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The Canadian Partnership for International Justice organizes the International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school, which will be held in Montreal from June 4 to June 9 2018. This event will bring together internationally renowed experts and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice. The development of enforceable rights for victims, notably by the ICC, has created a new reality in which those who work with victims are increasingly obliged to understand the victims’s rights and needs. However, currently, a lot of law students and professionals lack training concerning victimology and victims’ rights. Suck a knowledge is essential to ensure evolving victims’ rights stay connected with victims’ needs and do not develop into empty legal concepts that are detached from victims’ needs.

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 week long course consists of daily lectures by experts. Each day there are two lectures: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lectures last one hour and thirty minutes and are followed by a break and a discussion period. In addition, a visit to the Raoul Wallenberg Center and a meeting with a representative from the Canadian Center for International Justice are scheduled. Please note that 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.

The week program is available here.

Launch of Lexsitus, New Service Created by CILRAP

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January 30, 2018 – Today was launched Lexsitus, a new service created by CILRAP. It is designed to help law practitioners and students with the learning of and the work with legal sources in international criminal law.

Lexsitus offers a comprehensive faculty of 50 leading lecturers from around the world, and 234 subtitled lectures are currently available, with searchable transcripts. Lexsitus also includes commentaries, case law, preparatory works, and digests, for every article and major paragraph of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The idea behind this project is that it will enhance access to law and thus improve access to justice. According to the creator of Lexsitus, Prof. Morten Bergsmo, “this is how far legal informatics can aid international criminal justice at this stage without resorting to artificial intelligence”. Also, he hopes that this tool “can be a catalyst for similar and better developments in other disciplines of international law”.

You can access Lexsitus here, and watch Prof. Bergsmo information capsule “Welcome to Lexsitus” here.



The Wong v. HMQ Case, on Which Students from the uOttawa Clinic Worked, is Heard by the Supreme Court

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November 2017 – Students from the University of Ottawa Clinic provided legal research and analysis in support of Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL)’s intervention in Wong v. HMQ, which was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on November 10th 2017. At issue was the principle that a guilty plea must be voluntary and informed in order to be valid. In this case, the accused pled guilty without knowing he would become criminally inadmissible to Canada, and almost certainly deported. On appeal, he argued the plea was invalid because he was not informed of the very serious consequence of deportation. The case has important implications for the rights of refugees and refugee claimants, including persons seeking protection who may have been (or who may become) the subject of prosecutions for international crimes. To ensure the integrity of the international refugee protection regime in these circumstances, it is essential to have a proper framework for evaluating the validity of guilty pleas.

The students from the uOttawa Clinic who worked on this case were very happy with their experience.

“The opportunity to have contributed, even modestly, to a Supreme Court of Canada intervention was an extremely interesting and gratifying experience. Although the case presented factual difficulties, Wong has the potential to set a very significant precedent for individuals facing potential immigration consequences from criminal convictions. Attending the Supreme Court hearing and listening to high-level debates on issues we discussed ourselves was surreal, and taught me critical lessons about advocacy and litigation strategy that I won’t soon forget.”

– Eli Lo Re, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

“I was extremely pleased and humbled to be involved in CARL’s SCC intervention in Wong. It was an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand both how top litigators prepare for trial, as well as the substantive arguments of each of the parties and interveners. It was particularly interesting observing the different advocacy styles employed by each party, particularly when contrasted against their relative substantive positions. Further, knowing each of the parties’ positions in-depth prior to the hearing also enhanced my ability to understand and critically weigh each judge’s questions and the parties’ responses.”

– Amanda Bergmann, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

“The Wong case illustrated a perfect example of public interest litigation, which really spoke to achieving social change objectives through the legal system. I thought it was very interesting to watch the oral advocacy strategies that the Appellant’s counsel used, in that they spoke broadly about the need to create a test, while leaving room for the interveners to discuss the potential specifics of a test. While working on the Wong case, I learned to consider and weigh the narrow effects of the law on a particular client (individual), versus the broad changes a favourable ruling could have on an emerging area of law.”

– Nasser Chahbar, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

SGBV in Sierra Leone: Valerie Oosterveld organized an event moderated by Fannie Lafontaine

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December 2017 – Today, December 13 2017, the co-searcher Valerie Oosterveld organized a side event in the context of the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court. The event, named “Prosecuting SGBV at the Special Court for Sierra Leone”, was jointly organized with the Permanent Missions of Canada and Sierra Leone, UN-Women, Western Ontario University and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. It was moderated by co-director Fannie Lafontaine. Sharanjeet Parmar, former War Crimes Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), discussed her concrete experience in the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Prof. Valerie Oosterveld then presented the outcomes of a study analyzing the SCSL’s practices and lessons to be drawn from the prosecutions conducted. Finally, panelists Amadu Koroma (Deputy Representative of Permanent Mission for Sierra Leone) and Catherine Boucher (Principal Legal Advisor for the Permanent Mission of Canada) discussed, among other subjects, the context surrounding SGBV taking place in Sierra Leone and the role played by the SCSL in relation to the armed conflict that took place in the country during the 90s.

Valerie Oosterveld presenting at the event.

© Maxime Mariage.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada Organizes an Event on the Challenges of the Colombian Peace Process

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December 2017 – On December 12 this year, Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized his second side event in the context of the 16th Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court. This event, named “Challenges of the Colombian Peace Process: Guaranteeing victims’ rights under the Special Jurisdiction for Peace”, was presented jointly with Canada, Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ) and Corporación Humanas. Moderated by Philippe Tremblay, the panel composed of Andres Felipe Peña Bernal, Adriana Benjumea and Gustavo Gallo Giraldo discussed, among other topics, of the peace agreement that occurred between Colombia avec the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the legal and paralegal structures hindering the fight against impunity, especially in relation to sexual and gender-based violence.

© Maxime Mariage

Launch of the Gender Justice Legacy Wall: Prof. Valerie Oosterveld is Honoured

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December 7, 2017 – In the context of the 2017 celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2018, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice launched the Gender Justice Legacy Wall. It was inaugurated today in New York at a side event of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC. Among the honourees is our co-researcher, Prof. Valerie Oosterveld.

The Gender Justice Legacy Wall celebrates those who, over the past 125 years, have contributed to the field of international gender justice. Prof. Oosterveld, expert on gender issues within international criminal justice, was a member of the Canadian delegation to the 1998 U.N. Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of the ICC. She focused on gender-related issues and was involved in the formal, informal, and corridor negotiations on the definition of “gender.” She also served on the Canadian delegation to the subsequent ICC Preparatory Commission and the Assembly of States Parties. The Rome Statute, adopted in 1998, contains the broadest listing of sexual and gender-based crimes in International Criminal Law.© Maxime Mariage

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Consultation on Gender and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

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November 2017 – CPIJ Researcher Penelope Simons (Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa) presented at a multi-stakeholder consultation on “The Gender Lens to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” on November 30, 2017, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva Switzerland. The consultation was convened by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWGBH). It brought together business and human rights scholars, representatives from non-governmental organizations, members of the UNWGBHR and OHCHR staff for a full day of discussions on how to bring considerations of gender to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by businesses and States. Business activities can have differentiated impacts on the human rights of women and women often encounter discrimination and other obstacles in gaining access to effective remedies for business-related human rights abuses. The document related to this consultation and pictures of this day are available.

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice is attending the 16th Assembly of States Parties

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December 4, 2017 – For the second year in a row, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice is represented at the 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a delegation of practitioners, academics and students from various NGOs and academic institutions presented below.

Their attendance to the event of the year on international justice hosted by the UN on 4 to 14 December 2017 will allow them to contribute towards enhancing criminal remedies for victims of international crimes and finding solutions to outstanding issues that hamper the project envisioned in the Rome Statute.

This event is also an amazing opportunity for the Canadian Partnership to train a cohort of students who are educated, engaged and networked in international and transnational law. Through blogging and live twitting, our delegates will train and educate diverse Canadian audiences about the challenges, pitfalls and potential of the system of international justice, and about the priorities to improve the system. Thanks to their experience and knowledge, the delegations will contribute to enhancing Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity.

Follow the Partnership’s Twitter account and watch for our delegates’ posts on our partners’ platforms (IntLawGrrls, Quid Justitiae, Justice in Conflict, Blogue d’Avocats sans frontières Canada, PKI Global Justice Journal) to learn more about this year’s specific issues and to get news and updates.

Who is attending the ASP this year?


–       Fannie Lafontaine

–       Valerie Oosterveld

–       Darryl Robinson

–       Mark Kersten

–       Érick Sullivan


–       Amanda Ghahremani

–       Philippe Tremblay

–       Fergus Watt


Jenny Poon

Jenny Poon is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Ontario. Her research examines the norm of non-refoulement in international and European law and will involve a comparative analysis of the norm in United Kingdom and Germany.

Leah Gardner

Leah Gardner earned a law degree in both Common Law and Civil Law from McGill University in 2016. As part of her studies, she also completed the Intensive Semester in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments at Osgoode Hall Law School. Before studying law, she worked as the Public Education Coordinator at a social justice non-profit in Montreal. At the Canadian Centre for International Justice, she led programs on topics like the Canadian extractive industry, international trade, and economic, social and cultural rights. As a human rights accompanier in Colombia, Leah worked with communities impacted by transnational mining. She later returned to Colombia, and also Panama, to complete two legal internships focused on mining law and corporate accountability. She currently sits on the board of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) legal clinic. Leah holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University, and has experience working in both immigration and indigenous law in Canada.

Sophie Gagné

Having graduated in 2016 from an Integrated Bachelor in Public Affairs and International Relations (hon.) at Université Laval, Sophie is currently an L.L.M. and L.L.B. candidate, at Université Laval. Her L.L.M. research project, which she is completing under the supervision of Prof. Fannie Lafontaine and Julia Grignon, is about qualification of the end of armed conflicts by international criminal judges. She is part of the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, as well as of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Africa and Middle East. Since 2015, she has been working closely with the Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire, as well as with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice since its creation in 2016.


Geneviève Geneau

Geneviève Geneau is currently a Ph.D. student at Ottawa University under the supervision of Professor Muriel Paradelle. Her research focuses on criminalization in international criminal law of sexual violence committed against women in the framework of genocide. She is a research assistant at Université Laval’s Chaire de recherche en droit sur la diversité et la sécurité alimentaires and is a lecturer at Ottawa University.





Silviana Iulia Cocan

Silviana Cocan is a Ph.D student in international law at Laval University under joint supervision at Bordeaux University, in France. She is currently writing a thesis on the dialogue between jurisdictions and quasi-jurisdictions protecting human rights. More specifically, she is studying judicial dialogue in direct relation with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. Her research fields are public international law, human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Silviana is also participating as a student at Université Laval’s International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic.

Catherine Savard

Catherine Savard is currently completing her bachelor in Law at Université Laval. She is also the assistant coordinator for the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. During her degree, she completed a year of schooling at Åbo Akademi University’s Institute for Human Rights, in Finland. Back at Université Laval, she involved in the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic and realized research mandates, including for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Nicole Tuczynski

Nicole Tuczynski is a current LL.M (Common Law) student at the University of Ottawa. She also enjoys working in the field of politics on Parliament Hill for a M.P, a position that she has held for the past two years. Her research interests and passion revolve around both International Criminal Law and Canadian Health Law and Policy. Her specific research focus is currently on the International Criminal Court and one of the specific aims of the institution – that being an end to impunity for perpetrators who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nicole holds a M.A. in Political Science, with a Collaboration in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and a B.A. Honours Specialization Degree in Political Science, both from Western University. Her previous Master’s Major Research Paper also focused on international justice by way of studying the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and assessing its mandate.

Annika Weikinnis

Annika Weikinnis is currently enrolled in the Graduate Studies in Law program at the University of Ottawa and conducts research in the field of international criminal law, in particular the involvement of transnational corporations in international crimes. She holds a Master’s degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Aberdeen and a Master’s degree in Law and Politics of International Security from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Attending the ASP16 is an invaluable experience for her, academically and professionally, and she hopes to gain further insights in the organisation, processes and issues concerning the ICC.

Isabelle Jacovella Rémillard

Isabelle oversees the Community Engagement with International Justice project at the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), a project which uses multimedia to highlight CCIJ’s clients’ various access to justice efforts. She is also responsible for coordinating CCIJ’s digital outreach and organising legal education workshops with affected communities. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa and her double degree in civil law and common law at McGill University. She also holds a professional certificate in Disaster and Humanitarian Response from the McGill Humanitarian Studies Initiative. Isabelle’s research interests include issues of sexual violence in times of war, and the scope of protection of child soldiers under IHL.

Maxime Mariage

Maxime is currently completing a specialized post-graduate diploma at Université Laval and earned a master in international relations and international journalism. He studied in Beijing and interned in international organizations, notably at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and at Crisis Action in New York. He also worked for Le Soleil newspaper in Dakar, Senegal. He is specializing in international law and cultural rights and possesses a huge experience in legal translation.


The Refugee Hub Launched A New Clinical Course At the uOttawa Faculty of Law

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Fall 2017 – With support from the Strengthening Justice for International Crimes (SJIC) Partnership Grant, the Refugee Hub launched a new clinical course at the uOttawa faculty of law in Fall 2017.

The Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic provides a unique opportunity for 15 upper-year students per term to engage directly with public interest litigation on issues at the intersection of refugee law and criminal law. Students support counsel arguing strategically important cases, providing high-quality legal research, analysis and drafting. The Clinic is being led by the Refugee Hub’s Managing Director, Prof. Jennifer Bond (currently on sabbatical), the Hub’s Legal & Research Director, Nathan Benson, access to justice expert Prof. David Wiseman, and LLM Candidate Gregory Israelstam.

Cases are strategically chosen based on their potential to establish progressive legal principles to deal with situations involving individuals suspected of involvement in international crimes, who are therefore at risk of being excluded from refugee protection. These cases relate closely to the Partnership’s cluster on “Exclusion from Refugee Status and Deportation of Suspected War Criminals,” addressing the difficult interaction between the legitimate desire of states not to become havens for international criminals and their human rights obligations, particularly the obligation not to deport someone to potential harm.

Academic Research 

In addition to the Clinic activities outlined above, the uOttawa Refugee Hub is engaged in research on three topics closely related to the SJIC Partnership Grant. These research activities involve a significant number of students, some of whom are being funded via the SJIC partnership grant. The projects are being led by the Refugee Hub’s Managing Director, Prof. Jennifer Bond, and Legal & Research Director, Nathan Benson.

The first project analyses the overlap between Canada’s exclusion and inadmissibility frameworks, both of which can result in a denial of refugee protection. Following the Supreme Court’s Ezokola decision, mere membership in a criminal organization (or “guilt by association”) can no longer justify exclusion; but it still results in criminal inadmissibility in a broad range of circumstances, making the individual concerned ineligible to make a refugee claim. The project seeks to analyze this apparent divergence of principles and outcomes, and propose possible solutions.

The second project analyses the development of jurisprudence on s. 7 of the Charter in relation to criminalized refugees. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark Singh decision in 1985, a series of decisions has gradually limited and narrowed the application of s. 7 of the Charter in the refugee context. This raises concerns that refugees may benefit from weaker or narrower protections under s. 7 of the Charter than others. The project, still at its early stages, involves careful study of the relevant case law to identify what key choices have been made along the way, and whether correctives are needed.

The third project examines the jurisprudence pertaining to the use of habeas corpus as a remedy for immigration detention, in particular since the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Chaudhary (2015). As noted above, immigration detention is frequently used in situations where individuals are excluded from refugee status, but cannot be returned to their country of origin due to risks of torture, ill-treatment or unfair trial. Recent decisions granting habeas corpus to long-term immigration detainees present a potentially important check on detention that can become essentially indefinite or de-linked from its original purpose. Our project involves careful study of the fast-developing jurisprudence in this area, with a view to identifying key principles that should be applied, and points of contention that will need to be resolved.