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Press Releases

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.

CPIJ urges the ICC to investigate atrocities perpetrated by former DRC President Kabila  

By | Press Releases

On June 17, 2020, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice submitted a letter to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging it to investigate former President Joseph Kabila and senior officials from his government for atrocities perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The letter, which was also signed by 17 other civil society organizations and experts, echoes the voices of Congolese and international human rights organizations, who have been calling for the ICC to act. 

Although the Office of the Prosecutor has previously investigated and prosecuted a handful of perpetrators of international crimes in the DRC, it has yet to seriously address the role and responsibility of former President Kabila and relevant government officials in the commission of atrocities including killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and persecution. Ongoing impunity for these crimes has contributed to a climate of fear and an alarming escalation of violence in the DRC, amid rumours that Kabila is planning to return to power.   

It is time for the ICC to act and to fulfil its commitment of fighting against impunity by effectively investigating these crimes, without delay. 

Read the full letter 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)

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice is attending the 18th Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court

By | News, Press Releases, Student News

25 November 2019 – For the fourth year in a row, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) is represented at the 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.

Each year, the ASP is one of the most important events in the field of international justice. Representatives of States that have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute gather to make crucial decisions on the issues the Court is currently facing. Many ICC senior officials are also attending, and many side-events are organized by civil society organizations to stimulate the discussions and strive to find solutions to the issues that hamper the project envisioned in the Rome Statute.

The 18th ASP, held from 2 to 7 December 2019 at the World Forum in The Hague (the Netherlands), will allow students to deepen their knowledge of the most important issues pertaining to international justice while living a real experience of judicial diplomacy. This event is an outstanding opportunity for CPIJ to train a cohort of students who are educated, engaged and networked in international and transnational law. Through blogging and live twitting, CPIJ’s 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 this system. Thanks to their experience and knowledge, the delegation will contribute to enhancing Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity.

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

 

Who is attending the ASP this year?

Practitioners

Students

Ghuna Bdwi (@gmbdiwe)

Ghuna Bdiwi is a Syrian human rights lawyer. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. at Osgoode Hall Law School (York University). She concentrates on legal matters that are related to human rights violations, criminal accountability, and investigations of war crimes in Syria. Ghuna has received many prestigious awards during her professional and academic journey. She is the recipient of the 2015 International Human Rights Award by the International Center for Human Rights – Canada, an award that acknowledged her advocacy work in defending human rights in Syria. Additionally, she received the 2016 John Peters Humphrey Fellowship in International Human Rights from the Canadian Council on International Law, and the 2015 Fellowship from the Nathanson Center on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security. She is a graduate fellow with the Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect (University of Toronto) and the Centre for Refugees Studies (York University). She has taught many courses in human rights in Canada and abroad. She is a member of the Constitutional committee that is drafting the Syrian constitution, and also a chair of peace and justice research centre that concentrates on heinous crimes in Syria.

Justine Bernatchez (@JustineBernatc1)

Justine Bernatchez is a LL.M. candidate in International and Transnational Law at Université Laval, under the direction of Professors Fannie Lafontaine and Christine Vézina. She is particularly interested in international criminal law and its interaction with women’s rights. For almost a year now, Justine has been working as the Canadian coordinator of the ICC Legal Tools Project. She is also working as a student supervisor for the Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire, at Université Laval. She holds a law degree (LL.B.) from this same university and studied at Åbo Akademi University’s Institute for Human Rights (Finland) as an exchange student. Justine is currently completing her Bar internship as a legal consultant with a defence team at the International Criminal Court.

Morgane Greco (@MorganeGrc)

Morgane Greco is an International Studies Master’s degree student from University of Montreal. She holds a Public Law’s Bachelor additionally to a Political Science’s Bachelor from Lyon II University in France. Thanks to the ERASMUS+ Program, Morgane has also spent one semester in Nicosia at University of Cyprus, where she studied the Cypriot post-conflict society. She is currently articling at the United Nations’ Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict in New York and writing a Master’s thesis about sexual violence in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Morgane’s approach is focused on conflict-related Sexual Violence (CRSV) Victims, in a context of impunity. She is also very interested in justice and accountability benefits for CRSV victims.

 

Ania Kwadrans (@aniakwad)

Ania Kwadrans is a Senior Policy Advisor at University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, providing strategic and policy guidance, on local, national, and global issues affecting refugee rights. Before joining the Refugee Hub, Ania worked with Amnesty International, engaging in strategic litigation on human rights cases before courts of all levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and advocacy before Canadian Parliamentary Committees as well as United Nations treaty bodies. Ania holds a J.D. degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, is called to the Ontario bar, and is currently undertaking graduate studies in International Human Rights Law at University of Oxford.

 

Olivier Lacombe (@LacombeOlivier)

Olivier Lacombe is a LL.M. candidate at Université Laval Faculty of Law. His research interests are international criminal law, international human rights law as well as the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Under the supervision of Professor Fannie Lafontaine, he conducts research on the obligation to prevent the crime of genocide in international law. Olivier holds a law degree (LL.B.) from Université Laval and studied at the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi (Finland) as an exchange student. In the course of his studies, he contributed to the activities of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic of Université Laval.

 

Ismehen Melouka (@IMelouka)

Ismehen Melouka is a Ph.D. candidate in criminology at Université de Montréal under the supervision of Professor Jo-Anne Wemmers. Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminology, Ismehen pursued graduate studies in victimology. She focused on the perceptions and emotions of non-indigenous people surrounding the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Her doctoral studies now allow her to explore the recognition of victimization in the same non-native population. She is also a teaching assistant for the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School in collaboration with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. Her interests in criminology and human rights also allowed her to get involved with the NGO Amnesty International – UdeM, which she was president in the past years. Ismehen is also assistant to the Special Adviser on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the Rector of Université de Montréal.

Carmen Montero Ferrer (@CarmentxuAyerbe)

Carmen Montero Ferrer holds a Ph.D. in law from University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Her thesis, entitled “International crimes of sexual violence and impunity: an examination of the transitional justice mechanisms and their application in Africa,” was defended in 2017. She currently benefits from a research fellowship awarded by the Programme of Posdoctoral Training of Xunta de Galicia, which allows her to pursue her research at the Canada’s Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, at Université Laval (Canada). Her research now focuses on civil society contributions to accountability for international crimes.

Lily Wang (@alilbusy)

Lily is currently a third year J.D. student at University of Ottawa. Her interest in international law stem from her undergraduate studies of International Development and Globalization and her multi-lingual work experiences abroad in Shanghai, Jerusalem, and The Hague. She is a research assistant at the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre(HRREC) and has also spent the 2019 summer working on the Al-Hassan defence team at the International Criminal Court. Currently, she works in the Legal department at the Canadian Red Cross and has previously worked in their Global Relations and Humanitarian Diplomacy unit. Lily’s law studies have focused largely on public international law and alternative dispute resolution methods. She hopes to bridge these two interests into a future career in international peace mediation and peacekeeping.

Coordination

Érick Sullivan(@2_ErickSullivan)

Érick Sullivan is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic (Clinic). He is also the Coordinator of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice, the co-editor of the blog Quid Justitiae and a member of the Canadian Council on International Law’s Board of Directors. Holder of a Bachelor of Law (2009), he was recruited in 2010 by the Clinic as an assistant and was later appointed Deputy Director in 2012. As such, he was involved in more than 50 projects in many areas of law carried out by international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), States and lawyers. He notably co-directed a mapping of human rights violations completed by Avocats sans frontières Canada in support of the Malian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since 2010, he has supervised the researches of more than 400 students and has reviewed hundreds of papers. He also contributed in different ways to numerous scientific events, such as the workshop on collaboration between national prosecuting authorities and NGOs in the prosecution of international crimes, which he co-organized in March 2018 in Ottawa.

Catherine Savard (@c_savard1)

Catherine Savard pursues her LL.M. at Université Laval under the supervision of Professor Fannie Lafontaine. Assistant coordinator of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice since 2017, she is also member of the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights and regularly collaborates with the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic. She has previously studied at Åbo Akademi University’s Institute for Human Rights, and represented Université Laval at the Jean-Pictet international humanitarian law competition in 2018. Furthermore, she contributed to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girlslegal analysis on genocide, made public in June 2019. Her research focuses on genocide, colonialism and treaty interpretation in international law.

CPIJ funds student Steve Tiwa Fomekong’s project

By | News, Press Releases, Student News

November 2019 – This spring, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) launched its new funding program for student projects. This program aims to encourage and support students in their projects related to CPIJ’s research program.

Several requests were received for the 2019 summer trimester. While thanking all applicants, CPIJ is glad to disclose the identity of recipient Steve Tiwa Fomekong, LL.D. student under the supervision of CPIJ co-researcher Julia Grignon, at Laval University.

Steve received 1875 $ to teach at the first edition of the IHL Summer Schools in French-speaking Africa, in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

Expert in international humanitarian law (IHL), Steve received 1875 $ to teach at the first edition of the IHL Summer Schools in French-speaking Africa, in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). Held from 17 to 19 July 2019, the school was organized by the African Center on International Criminal and Humanitarian Law, in collaboration with Laval University’s International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, another CPIJ partner organization.

This summer, Steve also received funding from the research project Promotion et renforcement du droit international humanitaire: une contribution canadienne (“Osons le DIH!”), for him to teach at the 13thedition of the IHL summer school. This school took place from May 26 to 31 in Ottawa, and was organized by the Canadian Red Cross in collaboration with the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre, another CPIJ partner organization.

Steve Tiwa Fomekong teaching in Ottawa

To learn more, read the blog post Steve wrote about his experience.

You can also read this newly published blog post written by one of CPIJ’s recipients for the 2019 spring trimester, Jeremy Pizzy. LL.B. student at McGill University, Jeremy received 1000 $ to complete a 15-week internship at the International Criminal Court’s Trial Chambers section, in The Hague (Netherlands).

Requests for funding are analyzed by CPIJ’s Committee Scholarship and Student Funding Committee, which meets on a quarterly basis. Find out the procedure and applicable delays to request CPIJ funding.

Congratulations, Steve!

The PKI Global Justice Journal moves to Queen’s University

By | News, Press Releases

 September 2019 – The Philippe Kirsch Institute’s (PKI’s) Global Justice Journal has been launched at Queen’s University. Spearheaded by its co-editors-in-chief, CPIJ co-researcher Sharry Aiken and James Henry, the Journal critically informs readers of new developments in the realms of international, transitional and transnational justice.

“I am delighted to have the support of Queen’s Law in bringing this Journal to Queen’s,” explains Sharry Aiken. “My hope is that the PKI Global Justice Journal will be a leading venue for commentary and insights by researchers and practitioners engaged in the field of international justice – here at Queen’s and beyond. The Journal aligns well with the work of the SSHRC-funded Canadian Partnership for International Justice, of which Professor Darryl Robinson and I are co-researchers.”

The Journal was created in 2017 under the auspices of the Canadian Center for International Justice, a CPIJ partner organization which helped survivors of serious human rights violations in seeking redress. The Journal provides in-depth analyses, reviews of novel scholarly pieces, and interviews with specialists.

The Journal remains one of the platforms on which CPIJ students are invited to publish blogposts, notably in the context of the upcoming Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court. The Journal’s Editorial Board accepts contributions on an ongoing basis, and publishes articles both in English and in French.

The Journal promises to quickly become a go-to resource for international justice practitioners and researchers. Stay connected by following the Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Have a look at the Journal’s new website!

The Partnership funds 4 student projects

By | News, Press Releases

June 2019 – This spring, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) launched its new funding program for student projects. This program aims to encourage and support students in their projects related to CPIJ’s research program.

Several requests were received for the 2019 spring trimester. While thanking all applicants, CPIJ is glad to disclose the identity of recipients:

  • Azé Kerté Amoulgam, doctoral student in law at Université Laval: 1000$ to realize a 6-month internship at the International Criminal Court’s Office of Public Counsel for the Defence, in the Hague (the Netherlands);
  • Jeremy Pizzi, baccalaureate student at McGill University: 1000$ to complete a 15-week internship at International Criminal Court’s Trial Chambers section, in the Hague (Netherlands);
  • Sarah Douglas and Sophie Gagné, respectively doctoral student at Dalhousie University and master’s student at Université Laval: 250$ each to participate in the Reflections on Rwanda educational program on genocide, organized by SHOUT Canada from 17 May to 1st June 2019.

Applications were analyzed by CPIJ’s Committee Scholarship and Student Funding Committee, which meets on a quaterly basis. Find out the procedure and applicable delays to request CPIJ funding.

Congratulations to the recipients!

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

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.

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!

The Nevsun case is heard before the Supreme Court of Canada

By | News, Press Releases

January 2019 – On 23 January 2019, co-researchers of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada during the hearing of the Nevsun case. This groundbreaking case has great potential significance for human rights and corporate accountability in Canada as it is the first lawsuit whose claims are based directly on violations of international law.

The case questions whether a Canadian mining company should be held accountable for human rights violations perpetrated abroad. The British Columbia mining company Nevsun Resources Ltd. faces charges of forced labour, a form of slavery, related to the construction of the Canadian owned Bisha gold mine in Eritrea. Plaintiffs are former mine workers who have been granted the refugee status in Canada.

Jennifer Klinck, Paul Champ and Penelope Simons at the hearing. (Photo: Twitter)

In appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, Nevsun sought immunity for its conduct based on the common law doctrine of act of state. The respondents pleaded the absence of a doctrine of corporate immunity in international law and claimed that jus cogens norms of customary international law should serve as a source for development of the Canadian common law.

CPIJ is proud that its co-researchers Penelope Simons and François Larocque intervened, together with Jennifer Klinck and Paul Champ, as representatives of Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists. Co-researcher Amanda Ghahremani and the Canadian Center for International Justice (CCIJ), a CPIJ partner organization, were also part of the legal team for the respondents.

The webcast of the hearing is available here, and the parties’ factums on appeal can be accessed here. Further documentation is available on CCIJ’s website.