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29 August 1943 |
David Matas (born 29 August 1943) is the senior legal counsel of B'nai Brith Canada. He has maintained a private practice in refugee, immigration and human rights law since 1979. He has published various books and manuscripts and currently resides in Winnipeg.
David Matas was born in Winnipeg; his grandparents were immigrants from the Ukraine and Romania. He obtained a B.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1964, and a Masters of Arts from Princeton University in 1965. In 1967, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Jurisprudence) from the University of Oxford, England, and in 1968 he obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law. In 1969, he became a Middle Temple United Kingdom Barrister, and he joined the Bar of Manitoba in 1971.
Matas served as a Law Clerk to the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Canada in 1968-69, and was a member of the Foreign Ownership Working Group, Government of Canada, and was special assistant to the Solicitor General of Canada in 1971-72.
He served as a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, the Task Force on Immigration Practices & Procedures, the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Conference on an International Criminal Court 1998, the Canadian Delegation to the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, and since 1997 the Director of the International Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Development.
Matas has also taught constitutional law at McGill University, Introductory Economics, Canadian Economic Problems, International Law, Civil Liberties, and Immigration & Refugee Law, at the University of Manitoba.
He ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1979 and 1980 federal elections as a Liberal candidate in Winnipeg—Assiniboine district and came in second place both times. He was named to the Order of Canada on December 30, 2008.
Human rights work
He has been actively involved as Director of the International Defence & Aid Fund for South Africa in Canada, Director of Canada-South Africa Cooperation, Co-chair Canadian Helsinki Watch Group, Director Manitoba Association of Rights & Liberties, Amnesty International, B'nai Brith Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists, Canadian Jewish Congress, and Canadian Council for Refugees.
David Matas is the co-author of Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, which alleges that since 2000 the Chinese government has been systemically harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners. He is also counsel for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and is co-author of "Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights and Redress".
In 2009 David Matas was a signatory to a letter that opposed the appointment of Professor Christine Chinkin to a UN Human Rights Council fact finding mission regarding the potential that Israeli and Hamas engaged in war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza War on the basis that Chinkin signed a letter prior to the fact finding mission that Matas claims showed that she "concluded that Israel was acting contrary to international law." Chinkin was not dismissed from the fact finding mission and went on to help produce the Goldstone report.
He presented various papers on the legal issue of prosecuting war criminals in Bangladesh.
In 2010 David Matas was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work related to the investigation of organ harvesting crimes against Falun Gong practitioners in China. 
- Governor General Announces New Appointments to the Order of Canada http://archive.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=5601
- The Associated Press: China's most wanted man admits guilt by Jeremy Hainsworth, hosted by Google, 2009-08-09 - Dead link (feb.21, 2013)
- http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/crusader-up-for-nobel-prize-84838397.html News Report of Nomination
- Biography on Canadian Jewish Law Students Association site
- Biography on B'nai Brith Canada site
- Aftershock: Anti-Zionism & Antisemitism by David Matas (Dundurn(Toronto),2005)