OTTAWA, March 12, 1987 -- The Report of the Commission of Inquiry on war Criminals, chaired by Mr. Justice Jules Deschenes, was tabled today in the House of Commons by the Honourable Ray Hnatyshyn, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
In a statement to the House, Mr. Hnatyshyn outlined the Government's response to the findings and recommendations of the Commission.
Mr. Hnatyshyn indicated that while the Commission found the problem of war criminals to be less serious than indicated by some, the government must be concerned, if even one individual guilty of war crimes has sought refuge from justice in Canada.
Mr. Hnatyshyn indicated that the government's guiding principle in continuing the investigation and prosecution of possible war crimes would be that: "The problem of war criminals should, wherever possible, be dealt with here in Canada and every case must be resolved in a manner consistent with Canadian standards of law and evidence."
In brief, Mr. Hnatyshyn said this "made in Canada" solution involves:
- the amendment of the Criminal Code to give Canadian courts jurisdiction to try war crimes or crimes against humanity in Canada, if the conduct in question would have amounted to a criminal offence in Canada;
- the conduct of necessary investigations within the existing framework of the Justice Department and the R.C.M.P. No additional organizational body would be created;
- the review on a case by case basis of recommendations that Eastern European evidence be sought with such evidence to be gathered in accordance with Canadian standards and only where there are specific, credible and serious allegations of war crimes;
- the tightening of the immigration screening process and interview procedures to ensure that Canadian citizenship and immigration to Canada are not available to those who have participated in war crimes. The Citizenship Act will be amended to make complicity in war crimes a bar to Canadian Citizenship;
- a reliance on the current law and practice with respect to extradition and deportation with a view of avoiding retroactive action.
Mr. Hnatyshyn concluded by saying that he believed that it is not appropriate to seek to delay a resolution of the war criminals problem nor to seek to export responsibility to other countries.
The Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals was established on February 7, 1985, and reported to the government on December 30, 1986.
Copies of the Findings and Recommendations of the Commission, taken directly from the Report, are attached, along with the Statement of the Minister of Justice in response to the recommendations.
Copies of the full report are available from the Canadian Government Publishing Centre for $39.95 at (613) 997-2560.
Angele Dostaler (613) 992-4621
Douglas Rutherford (613) 995-2591