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Victims

Alleged Massacre Perpetrator Lives Freely in Canada: Canadian Government Called to Act

By | Press Releases

June 16, 2021, Quebec – Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), in collaboration with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), calls on the Canadian government to respect its obligation to prosecute crimes against humanity and war crimes, particularly in the case of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, who is suspected of having participated in a massacre in Guatemala in 1982.

Mr. Sosa Orantes, a former second lieutenant in the Guatemalan army, has been living peacefully in Canada for several months. Forty years ago, the special unit to which he belonged beat, tortured and savagely murdered more than 200 people – including children – wiping out almost the entire civilian population of the Guatemalan village of Las Dos Erres.

Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act gives the Canadian government the power to initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Sosa Orantes. Universal jurisdiction can be used for the most serious crimes committed in another country, such as the Las Dos Erres massacre. The person suspected of the crime must be present in Canada.

One of the only two survivors of the Las Dos Erres massacre, Ramiro Osorio Cristales, now lives in Canada. Mr. Cristales fled his country a little more than twenty years ago, after having lived through hell at the hands of one of the soldiers responsible for the massacre. He has been seeking justice ever since.

“Knowing one of these soldiers can pass in front of my house brings me back to 1982, to the day when my village was plunged into darkness. Among all the people, only two lights haven’t been snuffed out. I’m one of them. Seeking justice is my duty. I’m the voice of the people who died and I’m asking the Canadian government to join me and Lawyers Without Borders Canada in this quest by prosecuting the case of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes.” – Ramiro Osorio Cristales, survivor of the massacre of Las Dos Erres.

Since 2017, Mr. Sosa Orantes has been facing proceedings initiated by the Canadian government in Federal Court to revoke his Canadian citizenship. However, by limiting itself to this procedure, Canada is forgetting the most important thing, which is Mr. Sosa Orantes’ alleged responsibility in the perpetration of the massacre of Las Dos Erres, risking that justice will never be served.

“The case of Mr. Sosa Orantes is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to fighting impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and to demonstrate its solidarity with the victims of these crimes and their families. Canada has the tools and resources to assert its leadership and take concrete action for justice and human rights at the international level. By not seizing the opportunity to prosecute war criminals, Canada is allowing them to live a peaceful new life without having to answer for their actions. This should no longer be an option.” – Pascal Paradis, LWBC Executive Director.

Canada’s War Crimes Program: A Mirage in the Fight against Impunity

Even though Canada has the power to fight impunity, it has not demonstrated a real willingness to act. By continuing to rely solely on citizenship and immigration procedures, Canada is not fulfilling its obligations under international law to fight impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Canada has the legal and financial means, and the relevant evidence, to prosecute Mr. Sosa Orantes here. Unfortunately, as in several hundred other cases since 1998, Canada is taking the easy way out and is ignoring its international responsibilities. Under the current system for fighting against impunity for international crimes, States bear the responsibility of trying war criminals. If he is not prosecuted here for his participation in this massacre, justice will not be served anywhere, to the detriment of the fundamental rights of victims and the rule of law.”-  Fannie Lafontaine, CPIJ Executive Director

Although Canada’s War Crimes Program is active, its budget has seen almost no increase since its launch in 1998. There is a lack of transparency in how the funds are used.. No annual activity report has been made public for the past six years. Even today, the criteria that guide the discretionary power to prosecute remain unclear.

In more than 20 years, only two criminal prosecutions have been conducted under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Several other countries are doing much better.

Press conference: June 16, 10h30 EDT

About

Lawyers Without Borders Canada is a non-governmental international cooperation organization whose mission is to support the defence of the human rights of people in situations of vulnerability by strengthening access to justice and legal representation.

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice unites 24 leading Canadian academics and non-governmental actors from 12 partner organizations to work together to make the fight against impunity for most serious international crimes more effective and to increase victims’ access to remedies.

Contact

418-907-2607 poste 102

communications@asfcanada.ca

Virtual press conference on the case of the suspected Guatemalan war criminal Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orante

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QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC – On Wednesday, June 16, Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), in collaboration with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), will call on the Canadian government to act on the case of suspected Guatemalan war criminal Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, who has been living in Canada for several months now.

Pascal Paradis, LWBC Executive Director, and Fannie Lafontaine, CPIJ Executive Director, will make opening remarks, which will be followed by a video of Ramiro Osorio Cristales, one of the two sole survivors of the Las Dos Erres massacre in which Mr. Sosa Orante was allegedly involved.

A bilingual (French and English) question and answer period will be held for the media at the end of the press conference. Simultaneous translation into English will be available for journalists as needed.

When: June 16, 10h30 EDT, on Zoom.

The press conference will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Information: communications@asfcanada.ca

 

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/

International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

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The International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school brings together internationally renowned experts, and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice. In recent years, developments like the International Criminal Court, have catapulted victims’ rights into criminal justice. In order to ensure that as they evolve, victims’rights remain linked to the reality of victims and not develop into empty legal concepts that are detached from victims’ needs, it is important to have an understanding of the impact of victimization, victims’ needs and the effects of the law.

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. Organized in collaboration with the School of Criminology, the CÉRIUM, and the International Centre for Comparative Criminology, this course is an activity of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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.

See here for the program and registration fees.

Workshop on Anti-Corruption Law

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The Workshop on Anti-Corruption Law was held in Kiryat Ono (Israel) at the Ono Academic College and organized by the Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Ono Academic College.

Professor Joanna Harrington gave a paper presentation on “Providing for Victim Redress within the Legislative Scheme for Tackling Foreign Corruption”.

2020 International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

By | News, Upcoming Events

June 1 to 6, 2020

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.

For whom? The course is intended for graduate students and 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), Miriam Cohen (Université de Montréal), Isabelle Daignault (Université de Montréal), Myriam Denov (McGill University), Mark A. Drumbl (Washington and Lee University), Mylène Jaccoud (Université de Montréal), Amissi Manirabona (Université de Montréal), et Valerie Oosterveld (Western University).

Students who will be credited are invited to attend to a welcome session on May 29, 2020.

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
Credited students will be able to register starting March 9, 2020. Other participants can register as of now.

Registration Fees

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

(Rates may change)

CPIJ is offering 3 scholarships of $ 2,000 each to a graduate student from an affiliated university to attend this school. See here for more information.

Contact: ismehen.melouka@umontreal.ca

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

Looking forward to seeing you at the Université de Montréal in June 2020!

International Criminal Law Works-in-Progress Workshop

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The International Criminal Law Works-in-Progress Workshop was held in London (Canada) at Western University and was organized by the Faculty of Law at Western University.

Professor Joanna Harrington gave a paper presentation on “Providing for Victim Redress within the Legislative Scheme for Tackling Foreign Corruption”.

19th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology

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The 19th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology was on “Convergent roads, bridges and new pathways in criminology”. The event was held in Ghent (Belgium) and organized by the European Society of Criminology.

Professor Jo-Anne Wemmers gave a presentation on “Restorative Justice and Gender-Based Violence: Victim-Centred Reparative Justice”.

International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

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The School

The International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school brings together internationally renowned experts, and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice. In recent years, developments like the International Criminal Court, have catapulted victims’ rights into criminal justice. In order to ensure that as they evolve, victims’rights remain linked to the reality of victims and not develop into empty legal concepts that are detached from victims’ needs, it is important to have an understanding of the impact of victimization, victims’ needs and the effects of the law.

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. Organized in collaboration with the School of Criminology, the CÉRIUM, and the International Centre for Comparative Criminology, this course is an activity of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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 are 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.

CPIJ is offering a $ 2,000 scholarship to a graduate student from a developing country to attend this school. See here for more information. 

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.

Speakers

  • Jo-Anne Wemmers, Course Leader, Professor, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal. Researcher at the International Centre of Comparative Criminology (CICC), Head of the research team Victims, Rights and Society. Contact : jo-anne.m.wemmers@umontreal.ca
  • Fannie Lafontaine, Professor, Faculty of Law, Laval University. Canada Research Chair in International Criminal Justice and Fundamental Rights
  • Valerie Oosterveld, Associate Professor, Western Law. Associate Director, Western University’s Center for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • Mylène Jaccoud, Professor, School of Criminologie, Université de Montréal
  • Luke Moffett, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. Researcher at The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
  • Mark A. Drumbl, Alumni Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Law Institute, School of Law, Washington and Lee University
  • Frédéric Mégret, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill, William Dawson Scholar
  • Amissi Manirabona, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal
  • Isabelle Daignault, Associate Professor, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal. Co-director of the Centre d’étude sur le développement et l’adaptation desjeunes (CEDAJ).
  • Amanda Ghahremani Legal Consultant: International Criminal Law, Universal Jurisdiction & Redress for Survivors of Atrocity Crimes

Social activities

Participants are invited to attend an opening cocktail, as well as a closing cocktail on Saturday, where certificates of participation will be presented. Exchanges between professors, professionals and students will be encouraged in order to allow participants to expand their networks.

Registration details

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.

Professionals will receive a certificate of participation rather than credits. Members of the Ordre des criminologues du Québec and the Barreau du Québec may be credited with this course by their professional order (conditions may apply).

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.

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).

Students who will be credited are invited to attend to a welcome session on May 31st, 2019.

Registration information will be updated at: https://cerium.umontreal.ca/en/programs-of-study/

Registration fees

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

(Rates may change)

CPIJ is offering a $ 2,000 scholarship to a graduate student from a developing country to attend this school. See here for more information. 

Arrival

Participants from outside of Canada may require a visa to visit Canada. In order to know the steps to obtain a visa, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/tourist.asp

If required, participants can receive a letter of invitation from CÉRIUM by contacting the course leader.

Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is located on the Island of Montreal. The Montreal Transit Corporation (STM, http://www.stm.info/en) offers bus and metro service. Bus 747 runs between Trudeau Airport and the Lionel- Groulx Metro Station. The rate of this express line is $ 10, payable in exact change on the bus. At the Lionel-Groulx station, you can take the metro to get to the Université de Montréal (blue line, Université de Montréal and Côte-des-Neiges stations). To access the metro map, please visit: http://www.stm.info/en/infos/reseaux/metroTaxis are also available. Expect to pay approximately $40 for a taxi from the airport to the university.

Accommodation

It is the responsibility of participants coming from outside Montreal to find and book their accommodation. The Hotel Studios is located very close to the university (Metro station Université de Montréal) and offers the possibility of renting a single or double room for the week.

For more information and to make your reservations, please visit: http://www.zumhotel.ca/en/tariffs/

For other options, please visit: http://www.logement.umontreal.ca/trouver/temporaire.htm

Tourist activities

Montreal is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city of 4 million people from 120 different countries. Just a few steps from the university, you will find Côte-des- Neiges street where you will have access to supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, cafés, bookstores, among others.

The university is a short walk from Saint Joseph’s Oratory. It has easy access to the city center, the Old Port, Mount-Royal, as well as the Le Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, where you will find a wide offer of restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and other tourist attractions.

For more information about what to do in Montreal, please visit the Tourisme Montréal website: https://www.mtl.org/en

Looking forward to seeing you in Montreal!

National Victims and Survivors of Crime Week “Healing After Mass Victimization: The Power of Collaboration”

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The National Victims and Survivors of Crime Week was on “Healing After Mass Victimization: The Power of Collaboration” and was held in Montréal (Canada).

Professor Jo-Anne Wemmers gave a presentation with Nathalie Provost (Poly se souviens), Pieter de Baan (Fonds au profit des victimes, CPI), Luke Moffett (Queens University, Belfast) on “Recognizing victims and prioritizing needs”.