Government of Canada
Date January 31, 1995
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES WWII WAR CRIMES STRATEGY
OTTAWA - The Honourable Sergio Marchi, Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, and the Honourable Allan Rock, Attorney General of
Canada and Minister of Justice, today announced a strategy aimed at
deporting alleged WWII criminals living in Canada.
"The government has both a legal and moral commitment to Canadians and
the international community to ensure that WWII crimes and crimes
against humanity, regardless of time and place, are addressed. We will
ensure that we will meet our commitments in this area," Mr. Rock said.
"We have initiated the strategy by notifying four people of the
Government's intention to revoke citizenship and begin deportation
proceedings," Mr. Marchi said.
In all four cases, the Government is alleging that these individuals
misrepresented themselves and their war-time backgrounds when they
applied to immigrate to Canada.
Three of the four persons against whom the government is proceeding are
Canadian citizens. The Government's objective is to strip these people
of their Canadian citizenship and deport them. The fourth is a
permanent resident who will be subject to deportation proceedings
alone. All four people have been sent notices of the Government's
The identities of the four individuals will not be revealed at this
time. Their identities will be made public once litigation begins at
the Federal Court for citizenship revocation proceedings of the
Immigration and Refugee Board for deportation proceedings.
"We are sending a message on behalf of all Canadians to war criminals
around the world: Canada is not, and will not become, a safe haven for
these individuals. Known war criminals, like all serious offenders,
will be subject to the full extent of the law," Mr. Rock said.
While progress on the initial four cases will be monitored to ensure
that Canada meets its moral and legal commitments efficiently and
effectively, the Government anticipates undertaking at least four cases annually in
the second and third years of the strategy. The numbers, however, may
vary depending on results. The Government is committed to completing
all outstanding WWII war crimes investigations.
The Government's approach does not rule out criminal prosecutions of
alleged WWII war crimes. However, the 1994 Supreme Court of Canada
decision on Finta
makes such prosecutions unlikely. The Department of Justice is
reviewing areas of possible legislative change to ensure that criminal
prosecution is an option for war crimes cases.
- 30 -
Citizenship and Immigration:
Public Affairs Division
Department of Justice:
THE INVESTIGATION OF WAR CRIMES IN CANADA
The Government of Canada has acted on its promise to provide an
unequivocal affirmation of Canada's commitment not to be a safe haven
for those who seek to avoid punishment for crimes committed in times of
war. By establishing the legal and investigative machinery to actively
investigate and prosecute allegations made against persons living in
Canada, the Government has made its position clear to Canadians and the
international community. This commitment is unequivocal and not
restricted by time, place or conflict. There is, however, much public
interest in obtaining full information about what has been done and
what remains to be done in this area. This report outlines the process
followed in investigating the World War II cases. Privacy and fairness
considerations and concerns about prejudice to ongoing investigations
prevent publication of details of individual cases.
As long as war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed,
Canada will be vigilant to prevent those responsible from entering the
country and becoming or remaining Canadian citizens, or will be ready
to commence criminal investigations and prosecutions against them.
I. Strategic Directions and Recent Initiatives
The investigation of war crimes depends upon thorough and accurate
research in order to assemble evidence that will establish guilt beyond
a reasonable doubt. Over the last several years, the Canadian war
crimes team has made significant progress in opening areas of research,
notably in previously inaccessible sources in Eastern Europe.
A major step forward in the investigation of East Block and U.S.S.R.
cases came when Justice historians gained free access to all government
archives, enabling them to examine the actual collections in person. In
the fall of 1990, Justice war crimes officials and senior
representatives of the Procurator General of the U.S.S.R., the Main
Archival Administration, and the KGB reached an agreement permitting
historians working for the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes
Section to conduct primary research in the Soviet Union. The agreement
allowed for more flexibility in locating and interviewing Soviet
witnesses through greater access to KGB investigative files, mass media
advertising for witnesses in the U.S.S.R. , and interviewing and taking
statements from Soviet witnesses according to Canadian police
procedures. A more direct and less formal method of communicating with
the appropriate Soviet officials was also arranged.
During the spring of 1991, a preliminary overview of the holdings in
the Central State Archives in Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Tallinn, Riga and
Vilnius was conducted by in-house historians to assess the scope of the
future efforts needed to research, copy and evaluate the documentary
evidence relevant to the cases under investigation.
A historical survey of the relevant archives on all active cases was
undertaken, to collect all available suspect, event and unit specific
evidence. This enormous task was particularly complicated for East Bloc
and Soviet archives. These archives had generally not been open to
Western historians. As well, there was no reliable scholarly
information about the collections or how they were organized, and there
were no recognized Soviet-based World War II historians to consult or
retain to assist.
The research was suspended during the summer of 1991 because of the
uncertain political situation in the Soviet republics during and after
the breakup of the U.S.S.R. The independence of the former Soviet
republics meant that new memoranda of understanding had to be
negotiated to permit access to archives, interviews of witnesses and
commissions for the taking of evidence. Fortunately, the new
governments agreed to continue the historical research plans under the
Memorandum of Understanding with the Procurator General of the U.S.S.R.
until new memoranda were negotiated. The historical survey was
completed in January 1993.
The most important archives in these countries are those of the KGB and
other security police, as they contain investigative files and court
records on individuals who were accused of the same crimes alleged
against may [many] of the Canadian suspects. Many of those
investigations conducted in the 1950's through 1970's contain witness
statements that make reference to a Canadian suspect and
the participation of the suspect in the events under
investigation. As these statements are identified by Justice
historians, the witnesses' names are given to the local procurator to
locate for subsequent interviews with by(sic) the RCMP. Advertisements
for potential witnesses are also placed in the local print and
electronic media prior to the interview trip. The local procurators
receive the responses and coordinate the witness interviews, which are
conducted by RCMP investigators and Justice counsel. Interviews are
scheduled as soon as the material from the historical research trips
has been translated and assessed. Local translators and interpreters
have been retained to assist Justice historians and RCMP investigators
and to make the necessary logistical arrangements for the trips.
The central, district and local officials in the former East Bloc
countries and republics of the former U.S.S.R. have generally been most
helpful and cooperative. Travel in these countries, particularly to
more remote areas, is difficult to arrange from Canada. The various
procurators' offices have helped arrange for all the basic necessities
(accommodation, transportation, fuel, food, etc.) and the logistical
details for historical research and witness interviews.
Western Europe files did not require as much primary archival work,
since substantial amounts of secondary literature and numerous
catalogues and file indexes of archival holdings in the West were
available. In addition, all information on German war crimes
investigations and prosecutions held at the Central Office of Land
Judicial Offices in Ludwigsburg, Germany, was available for review to
identify parallel investigations and trials. Archival research at
European historical archives and reviews of parallel German trials were
carried out as necessary by contract historians. These contract
historians have evaluated and reported on the potential of a large
segment of the Western European cases.
In all cases involving possible survivor witnesses, checks with
survivor organizations are undertaken. Contract historians in Israel
also search survivor testimony files for potential witnesses. The RCMP
unit is responsible for witness location in Western Europe, Israel and
North America, and uses the services of the international police
network to conduct these searches.
II. Mutual Assistance and Joint Investigative Initiatives
From the beginning of the war crimes program, Canada has maintained
close ties with other operational war crimes investigative units in the
United States, England and Wales, and Scotland. During the summer of
1991, representatives of two U.K. war crimes units visited Canada to
establish formal cooperation. Representatives of a New Zealand war
crimes unit visited Canada in February 1992.
These and subsequent visits allowed those war crimes units to obtain
substantial information and strategic advice from Canada about
investigating their suspects. In exchange, Canada broadened its
information base and network for information and assistance in its
investigations. In addition to this sharing of information, assistance
is given to foreign war crimes investigators in tracing and
interviewing persons living in Canada who may have evidence relating to
a suspect or crime being investigated by a foreign war crimes unit.
Recognizing that the pursuit of war criminals is a world-wide effort, a
conference was held in London, England, in June 1991 and a second one
in Ottawa in October 1991. The goals of the conferences were to discuss
the potential of joint investigations and to share information on
historical research and investigative trips and plans, with a view to
maximizing knowledge and efforts, particularly in the wake of the
break-up of the former U.S.S.R.
The highlight of these conferences was an agreement to cooperate in
conducting historical research and jointly investigating suspects who
were members of the same military unit and are suspected of having
participated in the same war crimes. At the Ottawa conference, a joint
historical research plan for Australia, Scotland, the United States and
Canada was approved and has since been completed. As part of the same
investigation, a team of Australian, Scottish and Canadian
investigators interviewed witnesses abroad in the spring of 1992, and
Canadian and Scottish investigators interviewed witnesses abroad in
October 1992. Australia and Canada were involved in two other joint
investigations, and other possibilities have been discussed with
England. Although the war crimes investigative units of Australia and
New Zealand are no longer in operation, the information collected
during their investigations remains available for use by other units.
There is a very positive working relationship between all war crimes
units. The model of international cooperation that has been developed
will provide a solid base for future efforts.
III. Current Status of Investigations
A "war crime" may be roughly defined as a criminal (sic) not committed
during an international armed conflict which violates the rules of war
as set out in international law, even if it is not a crime under the
law of the place where the act was committed. Examples are ill
treatment of the civilian population of occupied territory, violation
of individual lives and private property, and execution of prisoners of
war. Similarly, "crime against humanity" refers to murder,
enslavement, and racial, religious or political persecution or any
other inhumane act committed against civilians, whether or not it is
against the law in force at the time.
The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section has opened more than
a thousand files since the project began, most of which have been
closed or suspended. Investigations were closed where it was concluded
that the person is probably dead. Investigations have been suspended
for a number of reasons. In some cases, the person cannot be located in
Canada, despite concentrated efforts, or is likely to be unfit to stand
trial. In other cases, as a result of investigations, the allegation
appears to be false.
The remaining files were assessed and ranked according to potential for
prosecution, denaturalization or deportation. Files were ranked by
applying various criteria, such as:
Most of the high-priority investigations have been completed. The remaining priority investigations are continuing.
- historical and investigative work to be done;
- role of the suspect in the allegation;
- age and health of the suspect;
- historical evidence available; and
- investigative potential.
IV. The Investigative Process
1. The War Crimes Team
The RCMP War Crimes and Special Investigations Unit was established as
a task force in 1985 to assist the Commission on War Criminals, headed
by Mr. Justice Jules Deschenes. It has continued to conduct
investigations of all cases recommended by the Commission, all the
allegations the Commission was not able to deal with, and all
allegations brought since the Commission filed its report. The
Department of Justice Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section
provides the legal and historical support for war crimes
investigations. The Section comprises lawyers, historians and support
staff. In addition, it has under contract foreign-based historians and
While Justice and the RCMP are the primary agencies in these
investigations, many other government departments make valuable
contributions to the program, notably Foreign Affairs, Government
Service, and Citizenship and Immigration.
Foreign Affairs (in particular, the Legal Advisory Division and the
embassies in Europe and Moscow) has assisted in negotiating memoranda
of understanding with foreign governments for cooperation in the
investigations, in establishing and nurturing official contacts through
meetings with senior government officials, and in making the logistical
arrangements for historical research and investigations overseas.
A number of departments possess basic information concerning the
persons under investigation. Foreign Affairs has passport information;
Citizenship and Immigration has documentation concerning suspects'
entry to Canada and information about the processes in use after World
War II, as well as information regarding citizenship applications.
The Multilingual Translation Directorate of Government Services
provides translation and other linguistic services. There have been 31
languages involved so far, notably Russian, German, Hungarian, Slovak
and Serbo-Croatian. Interpretation in Canada and occasionally abroad is
provided by the Parliamentary and Interpretation Services Directorate.
2. Investigative Challenges
The Canadian war crimes team has been faced with imposing challenges in
carrying out their investigations, notably in defining the range of
crimes, collecting documents and testimony, assessing the reliability
of witnesses, and overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers.
Constructing a case that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in
these circumstances is an exceptionally difficult task.
The crimes and criminals investigated range from German army units
committing crimes during combat, to police units oscillating between
maintaining law and order and eliminating "undesirables", to the
extreme of units set up for the sole purpose of killing Jews. The
suspects under investigation are not necessarily the notorious
high-ranking officials normally associated with the term "war
criminal." Although the investigation may touch on the activities of
these officials, the suspects in Canada generally operated at a lower
level. This causes problems in proving the scope of the
responsibilities and activities of the persons under investigation.
In addition, most of the investigations involve non-Germans who
collaborated with the Nazis during their occupation of the former
U.S.S.R. and the countries forming the East Bloc. Post-war Canadian
immigration procedures were more effective in screening out German
nationals who might have committed war crimes than non-Germans. The
investigation of these non-Germans is complicated because the
activities of the units they belonged to are generally not reflected in
war crimes investigations and trials conducted after World War II in
Germany and other Western countries. The documentation is often
available only at archives located in the place or area where the
person or unit operated and the crimes were committed.
Moreover, the documentary picture is often incomplete, because of the
Nazi policy of destroying records once it appeared that the war would
be lost. To judge from the records known to have been made during the
war, the available collections of documents generally represent only
the tip of the iceberg.
Allegations about war criminals living in Canada are made by both
domestic and foreign sources. The initial step is to collect as much
personal data on the suspect as possible, using traditional police
sources. In the case of foreign allegations, it must first be shown
that the person is alive and living in Canada. The second step is to
verify that the person is connected to the allegation.
The first stage of tracing suspects in Canada (domestic checks)
involves a search of immigration records for documentation concerning
the person's entry to Canada. Checks are also done for citizenship and
passport information. This apparently simple process is complicated by
problems associated with the writing or recording of names in
characters of different alphabets (transliteration); unavailability of
Canadian immigration documentation from the 1940's and 1950's;
difficulty in completing biographical data on suspects because of
prohibitions on access to information in pension, health, income tax
and other Canadian government records; and incomplete biographical data
in foreign records. These problems also apply to the tracing and
locating of potential witnesses.
The second stage involves basic checks of the Bundeserchiv (sic) Aussensselle Berlin-Zehlendorf
(formerly the Berlin Document Centre), which contains Nazi Party
membership records and service records of SS officers; the Wehrmachisquskaufisselle (sic), which contains documents regarding prisoners of war taken by the Allies; Krankenhichlager (sic),
which is the major site of German army medical records that indicate
the units in which the servicemen were active and time spent in the
hospital; and the United Nations War Crimes Commission list of war
criminals. For non-German suspects, the second stage also involves
conducting basic checks in foreign historical and police archives for
information about the suspects and their wartime activities.
The amendments to the Immigration Act prohibit persons who have
committed war crimes and crimes against humanity from entering Canada.
Unlocated suspects about whom there is sufficient evidence to conclude
that they committed war crimes or crimes against humanity have been
added to an "immigration watch list." This list is used by immigration
officers in identifying war criminals and preventing their entry into
Canada or, alternatively, reporting their presence in the country.
3. Making the Decision to Prosecute, Denaturalize or Deport
All cases are investigated with regard to the possible criminal and
civil litigation options: prosecution, denaturalization and
deportation. Prosecution is the preferred option. If the criminal
option is selected, no civil proceedings will be considered until after
court proceedings are concluded. If prosecution is not possible, the
civil options of denaturalization or deportation, depending on the
status of the suspect in Canada, will be evaluated for those cases
where the individual obtained citizenship or entry to Canada through
demonstrable fraud. Some of the evidence needed for prosecution will
also be relevant to the civil options.
The key criterion in all these proceedings is the existence of some
evidence of individual criminality. If that cannot be proven, no
proceedings will be considered. Where there is such evidence, the
decision on the appropriate option will depend on the differing burdens
of proof required for each option. The decision of the Supreme Court of
Canada in R. v. Finta
is particularly relevant here. In that case, the Court established a
higher standard of proof for the prosecution of war crimes and crimes
against humanity that is recognized at International law. For
World War II cases, this decision has made prosecution of these crimes
much more difficult and less likely.
Once a decision is made to abandon the criminal option, consideration
will be given to denaturalization and deportation. Not all
suspects committed fraud to obtain entry to Canada or to obtain
citizenship, and proof of fraud is complicated in most cases because
the immigration documentation has been destroyed. Consequently,
denaturalization or deportation potential will depend largely on the
quality of the circumstantial evidence which can be presented.
In appropriate cases, the Attorney General will refer the files to the
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to consider whether
denaturalization and deportation proceedings should be commenced. Such
factors as the strength and availability of evidence and the nature of
the crimes in question will be taken into account in the decision. In
all cases, the Government's paramount concern is the safety and
security of Canadians, and the moral and legal commitment to ensure
that justice is done.
The above html document was typed out by Will Zuzak, 28Feb2008, from 6
pdf files of the original Government news release distributed by Marco
Levytsky, publisher/editor of the Ukrainian News, Edmonton.
It will be archived as AllanRock19950131NewsRelease(d-d).html at the Furman (Oberlander) link on the main page