Crimes Against Humanity

A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada on grounds of violating human or international rights for committing an act outside Canada that constitutes an offense referred to in sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Mugusera v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), is a Supreme Court of Canada decision which determined which elements of an offense must be present in order for an action to constitute a crime against humanity. The Court stated:

119 As we shall see, based on the provisions of the Criminal Code and the principles of international law, a criminal act rises to the level of a crime against humanity when four elements are made out:

1. An enumerated proscribed act was committed (this involves showing that the accused committed the criminal act and had the requisite guilty state of mind for the underlying act);

2. The act was committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack;

3. The attack was directed against any civilian population or any identifiable group of persons; and

4. The person committing the proscribed act knew of the attack and knew or took the risk that his or her act comprised a part of that attack.

Widespread and Systemic

A widespread attack may be defined as massive, frequent, large scale action, carried out collectively with considerable seriousness and directed against a multiplicity of victims. It need not be carried out with a specific strategy, policy, or plan.

A systemic attack is one that is thoroughly organized and follows a regular pattern on the basis of a common policy involving substantial public or private resources.  It is carried out pursuant to a policy or plan, although the policy need not be an official state policy and the number of victims is not determinative. The word “systemic” signifies the organized nature of the acts of violence and the improbability of their random occurrence.  Patterns of crime – that is the non-accidental repetition of similar criminal conduct on a regular basis – are a common expression of such systemic occurrence.

The widespread or systemic nature of an attack will ultimately be determined by examining the means, methods, resources, and results of the attack on a civilian population.  Only the attack need to be widespread or systemic, not the act of hte accused.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *