Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program


1. Introduction

In 1998, the Government of Canada established the current coordinated Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program (Program). Program partners include the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The purpose of the Program is to support Canada's policy to deny safe haven to suspected war criminals and to contribute to the domestic and international fight against impunity. More specifically the Program aims to:

  • Identify and prevent the admission to Canada of persons involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide;
  • Detect at the earliest possible opportunity, war criminals who are in Canada and to take steps to prevent them from obtaining status or citizenship;
  • Revoke the status or citizenship of individuals who were involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide who are in Canada and to remove them from Canada; and
  • Examine all allegations of war crimes suspects in Canada and, where appropriate, to investigate and prosecute them.

The objective of the evaluation is to determine the continued relevance of the Program; assess the degree of success in achieving the Program objectives and report on results to date; and assess the cost effectiveness and determine whether there are more effective alternatives to the current design and delivery of the Program. The Evaluation Division of DOJ undertook this summative evaluation of the Program in 2008, assisted by an Evaluation Advisory Committee with representatives from CBSA, CIC, the RCMP and DOJ.

2. Methodology

The evaluation was comprised of seven lines of evidence:

  • A document review;
  • Interviews with staff of the four program departments, other government departments (OGDs), international partner agencies, independent researchers and external stakeholders in Canada and abroad;
  • Case studies of five of the nine remedies available under the Program;
  • Country studies of war crimes and crimes against humanity operations in Australia, the Netherlands and the US;
  • A content analysis of media coverage of war crimes cases in Canada;
  • A survey of staff of program departments; and,
  • A cost comparison of the nine Program remedies based on detailed process flow charts.

3. Key Findings

3.1. Relevance

The Program is the primary enforcement mechanism available to the federal government to give support to the policy of denying safe haven in Canada to those suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes. Its purpose and objectives remain a priority for the government as expressed in legislation, ongoing budgetary commitments, and in Annual Reports of the Program.

Given Canada's legal obligations arising from international conventions and statutes dealing with war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity, the Program continues to remain highly relevant. Furthermore, there is no indication that the number of allegations against those seeking to enter Canada or already resident will decline. The combination of new conflicts, the changing pattern of immigration to Canada from countries in conflict and allegations arising from older conflicts, indicate that the Program will continue to deal with a significant volume of allegations.

3.2. Program Design and Delivery

Governance and Policy

The changes in governance structure, including the establishment of both an Assistant Deputy Minister level Steering Committee and the Program Coordination and Operations Committee (PCOC), contribute to a more cohesive and coordinated Program. The guidance provided on resource allocation, the clarification of departmental roles and responsibilities, and the more rigorous criteria for assigning cases to different remedies improve the cohesiveness and focus of the Program and allow its limited investigative capacities to be more concentrated on high priority cases.

Partnership and Integration

The operations of the Program are integrated with other Canadian border management initiatives in the areas of organized crime and counter-terrorism. This is mostly done through CBSA. As an example, CBSA has located its War Crimes Section within the National Security Division of its Intelligence Directorate along with its Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Sections. At a regional level in Canada, CBSA officers have integrated war crimes, counter-terrorism and organized crime functions, with support to all three provided by the RCMP and DOJ as well as several OGDs and agencies. Similarly, the National Security Division is able to provide overseas officers, including visa officers, with a single source of information on war crimes, organized crime and counter-terrorism.

The Program also operates in partnerships with other departments and agencies of the Government of Canada. One example of this type of partnership has been collaboration on extradition cases between the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and the International Assistance Group (IAG) of DOJ in order to develop appropriate documentation with the country seeking extradition.

The Program is highly effective in developing and maintaining partnerships with international partner organizations and with similar programs in other countries. Staff of international criminal tribunals, national police agencies, national prosecution services and immigration enforcement agencies from other countries gave examples of effective collaboration between the Canadian Program and their organization. One of these was Canada's place as the only non-European member of the European Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Coordination, Allegation Management and Service Delivery

Improved interdepartmental coordination has contributed to more efficient and effective management of allegations, principally through more effective interdepartmental cooperation during investigations, more effective screening and file review processes, and better prioritization of applicable remedies.

At the same time, the Program faces an important challenge in improving the adequacy and frequency of training, most critically for staff newly assigned to front-line positions in the regions and in posts abroad. There is also a need to invest in the upgrading and updating of computerized databases and electronic platforms at CBSA/CIC, most notably the Modern War Crimes System (MWCS).

Raising Awareness and Knowledge

The Program activities make an important contribution to raising the profile of international efforts to deal effectively with crimes against humanity and war crimes. They also raise awareness of the Program within the international community of war crimes experts. However, there is a strong consensus among stakeholders at all levels of the need for more intensive awareness building and communication activities in Canada. Interviewees from organizations representing victims or specific immigrant communities believe their constituents could make an important contribution to identifying those involved who now reside in Canada. They also stated that they believe that their members would be more willing and able to assist the RCMP investigators by providing information or identifying witnesses if they were 1) aware of the Program, and 2) believed that the perpetrators of the crime would be sought out and either punished or removed from Canada.

Gathering and Using Performance Monitoring Data

Participating departments provide an annual overview of Program performance by submitting data on allegations and outcomes in terms of investigations, prosecutions, entries prevented, persons excluded from refugee protection, and removals of persons involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes from Canada. The Program (through the Steering Committee and PCOC) also uses this information to guide policy and to manage program activities. Nonetheless, there are gaps in the performance monitoring system relating to education and outreach and awareness-raising activities.

3.3. Program Success

International Leadership and Meeting International Obligations

The Program continues to demonstrate Canada's global leadership role in dealing with crimes against humanity and war crimes mainly through its engagement in international cooperation, its support of international institutions, its robust legislative framework, and the existence of an integrated, interdepartmental program. It has also been effective in meeting Canada's international legal obligations with regard to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Meeting the Objectives of the Program and the Policy

It is impossible to demonstrate with certainty that the Program is effective in deterring entry into Canada of those suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Similarly, quantitative data on outcomes achieved in terms of persons denied entry, removed from Canada, or facing criminal prosecution do not provide a definitive answer on the effectiveness of the Program in achieving its over-arching goal of denying safe haven in Canada. However, the combination of quantitative results data and opinions of stakeholders in Canada and abroad supports the conclusion that the Program does make a significant contribution to achieving this national objective.

At the same time, there is an apparent discrepancy between the size of the RCMP/DOJ inventory of modern war crimes cases and the resources available to the RCMP War Crimes Section for investigation. The limited resources available for investigation, in relation to the inventory of serious cases, place an important limitation on the Program's contribution to the objective of denying safe haven.

3.4. Cost Effectiveness

The nine remedies for dealing with persons involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes under Canadian statutes vary tremendously in terms of cost and complexity. Those remedies which are carried out before a person suspected of involvement becomes a permanent resident or citizen (or is provided refugee protection) are the least costly. The most complex, lengthy and expensive remedy to apply is criminal prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (CAHWCA). These data support the Program in its concentration of efforts on preventing entry of suspected war criminals. Notwithstanding the variance in costs, the careful use of the criminal prosecution remedy continues to be an important component in meeting the overall program objective of preventing impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Policies and Processes Contribute to Cost Effectiveness

The Program strikes a balance between the desire to achieve the most cost-effective solutions and the need to maintain the integrity of the no safe haven policy. This balance is supported by the adjustments to file review criteria placing greater priority on immigration remedies without denying the need for revocation of citizenship and criminal prosecution where they are warranted.

Alternative Program Structures

There is no indication that independent delivery of program services by the four departments acting outside the framework of an integrated program would be a more cost-effective alternative. In fact, any gains through small, theoretical cost savings would be more than offset by diminished program effectiveness through loss of cohesion and poor coordination.

Rationale for Increased Resources

There is considerable evidence that the Program will require increased resources if it is to be effective in addressing the no safe haven policy in the future. In particular, there is a need for allocating increased resources to carrying out criminal investigations, for frequent training of new staff, and for updating and upgrading program databases.

4. Recommendations

The evaluation supports the continuation of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program. It also found that the interdepartmental model is effective and should be maintained, and all four participating departments remain relevant partners in the Program.

While the coordination and delivery of the Program has seen an increase in efficiency and effectiveness since the last evaluation in 2001, there remain areas for improvement. The evaluation team has the following recommendations:

  1. Consider making program funding permanent and adjust the overall level of financial resources provided to the Program based on a cost-justified plan prepared by the participating departments;
  2. Consider increasing funding to strengthen the investigative capacity of the RCMP as this was the highest priority for enhanced funding identified by the evaluation;
  3. Consider improving and upgrading CBSA and CIC program databases, most notably the MWCS, to ensure better access and so that updates and changes may be made more frequently;
  4. Consider undertaking a formal review of training requirements in order to develop a detailed training plan to address gaps. The plan should include the needs of the various departments, nature and frequency of training, format for delivery, an assessment of resource requirements and performance measures for monitoring purposes; and,
  5. Consider allocating additional funding to support the development and implementation of an operational plan for intensified outreach to raise awareness of the Program in Canada. The plan should include identification and prioritization of potential recipients, the appropriate method to reach each group, the resource requirements and performance measures for monitoring purposes.
Date modified: