Sosa Orantes case: Canada could end 40 years of impunity

By December 9, 2022 News, Press Releases

December 7th 2022, Quebec City – Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), in collaboration with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), calls again on the Canadian government to reconsider its decision not to pursue criminal charges against Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, who is suspected of having participated in the Las Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala 40 years ago today.

On December 7th 1982, the village of Las Dos Erres was ravaged by a special unit of the Guatemalan forces in  which Sosa Orantes served as second lieutenant. Almost the entire population was murdered. Only a handful of children survived, including Ramiro Osorio Cristales, now a Canadian citizen. LWBC, with the support of the CPIJ, is accompanying him in his quest for justice.

The Canadian government initiated proceedings in 2017 to revoke Mr. Sosa Orantes’ Canadian citizenship before the Federal Court. In a May 2022 statement, LWBC and the CPIJ demonstrated the existence of significant risks that he would never face trial if he were to be deported. Despite the support of 20 organizations, the statementignored by the authorities.

The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act gives the Canadian government the power to initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Sosa Orantes, ending 40 years of impunity in this case.

LWBC, along with the CPIJ, has repeatedly reminded the Canadian government of its power over the past two years. These calls have gone unanswered.

In May 2022, LWBC went to Ottawa with survivor Ramiro Osorio Cristales to request a meeting with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable David Lametti, to press for criminal charges. The door was closed to them.

On this day of commemoration of the Las Dos Erres tragedy, which happened exactly 40 years ago, in solidarity with Ramiro Osorio Cristales, who every day runs the risk of meeting one of those who committed this horrendous crime, and with all the survivors of the massacre as well as their loved ones, LWBC and the CPIJ once again call on the Canadian government to show courage and bring Mr. Sosa Orantes to justice.

Canada has recently expressed a strong commitment to international criminal justice by being one of the first countries to support investigations into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Ukraine. This commitment, which is to be welcomed, should also be translated into an unequivocal refusal to allow Canadian territory to harbour individuals suspected of the most serious crimes.