Last updated on January 1st, 2019

Last Updated on January 1, 2019 by Steven Meurrens

Section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “IRPA“) provides that:

Human or international rights violations

35 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of violating human or international rights for

(a) committing an act outside Canada that constitutes an offence referred to in sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act;

(b) being a prescribed senior official in the service of a government that, in the opinion of the Minister, engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity within the meaning of subsections 6(3) to (5) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act; or

(c) being a person, other than a permanent resident, whose entry into or stay in Canada is restricted pursuant to a decision, resolution or measure of an international organization of states or association of states, of which Canada is a member, that imposes sanctions on a country against which Canada has imposed or has agreed to impose sanctions in concert with that organization or association.

Sections 4 to 7 of the CAHWCA

Hence, pursuant to s. 35(1)(a) of the IRPA, 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 offence referred to in sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (the “CAHWCA”).

Section 4 of the CAHWCA includes genocide, a crime against humanity and war crimes.

Crimes against humanity means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a crime against humanity according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

Genocide means an act or omission committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable group of persons, as such, that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes genocide according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

War crime means war an act or omission committed during an armed conflict that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a war crime according to customary international law or conventional international law applicable to armed conflicts, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the “Rome Statute”) provides guidance in interpreting some of the provisions above.

Article 6 of the Rome Statute defines “genocide” as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a)     Killing members of the group;

(b)     Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c)     Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d)     Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or

(e)     Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Under the Rome Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a)     Murder;

(b)     Extermination;

(c)     Enslavement;

(d)     Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

(e)     Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

(f)     Torture;

(g)     Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h)     Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

(i)     Enforced disappearance of persons;

(j)     The crime of apartheid;

(k)     Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

The Rome Statute further states that for the purpose of the above definitions:

(a)     “Attack directed against any civilian population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;

(b)     “Extermination” includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;

(c)     “Enslavement” means the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children;

(d)     “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law;

(e)     “Torture” means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

(f)     “Forced pregnancy” means the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying out other grave violations of international law. This definition shall not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to pregnancy;

(g)     “Persecution” means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity;

(h)     “The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime;

(i)     “Enforced disappearance of persons” means the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.

Finally, the Rome Statute defines war crimes as including:

(a)     Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:

(i)     Wilful killing;

(ii)     Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;

(iii)     Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;

(iv)     Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;

(v)     Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power;

(vi)     Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;

(vii)     Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;

(viii)     Taking of hostages.

(b)     Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

(i)     Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;

(ii)     Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;

(iii)     Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict;

(iv)     Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;

(v)     Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;

(vi)     Killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;

(vii)     Making improper use of a flag of truce, of the flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy or of the United Nations, as well as of the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions, resulting in death or serious personal injury;

(viii)     The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory;

(ix)     Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;

(x)     Subjecting persons who are in the power of an adverse party to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are neither justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the person concerned nor carried out in his or her interest, and which cause death to or seriously endanger the health of such person or persons;

(xi)     Killing or wounding treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;

(xii)     Declaring that no quarter will be given;

(xiii)     Destroying or seizing the enemy’s property unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;

(xiv)     Declaring abolished, suspended or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party;

(xv)     Compelling the nationals of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the belligerent’s service before the commencement of the war;

(xvi)     Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault;

(xvii)     Employing poison or poisoned weapons;

(xviii)     Employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices;

(xix)     Employing bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions;

(xx)     Employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict, provided that such weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare are the subject of a comprehensive prohibition and are included in an annex to this Statute, by an amendment in accordance with the relevant provisions set forth in articles 121 and 123;

(xxi)     Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(xxii)     Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2 (f), enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence also constituting a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions;

(xxiii)     Utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations;

(xxiv)     Intentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law;

(xxv)     Intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions;

(xxvi)     Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.

Section 5 of the CAHWCA includes commanders and superiors of who fail to execute proper control over individuals, or fail to prevent the commission, of the crimes described above.

Sections 6 and 7 of the CAHWCA include the substantially the same offences as sections 4 and 5, but apply to actions outside of Canada.

Mugusera v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), is a Supreme Court of Canada decision which determined which elements of an offence must be present in order for an action to constitute a crime against humanity. The Court stated at paragraph 19 that:

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 the accused.

Complicity

Pursuant to the Federal Court of Canada decision in Talpur v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2016 FC 822, an individual is complicit in crimes against humanity if there are reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has voluntarily made a significant and knowing contribution to the organization’s crime or criminal purpose.  Reasonable grounds to believe exist where there is an objective basis for the belief that is based on compelling and credible information.

Pursuant to the Federal Court of Canada decision in Ghazala Asif Khan v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2017 FC 269, in assessing whether an individual has made a significant and knowing contribution to the crimes committed by an organization, consideration should be given to the following non-exhaustive factors:

(a) the size and nature of the organization;

(b) the part of the organization with which the individual was most directly concerned;

(c) the individual’s duties and activities within the organization;

(d) the individual’s position or rank within the organization;

(e) the length of time the individual was in the organization, particularly after acquiring knowledge of the group’s crime or criminal purpose; and

(f) the method by which the individual was recruited and his or her opportunity to leave the organization.

Pursuant to the Federal Court decision in Jelaca v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2018 FC 887 an individual can be inadmissible under s. 35(1)(a) even if they were a low level grunt conscripted into the military.