War criminals in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The proper handling of war criminals in Canada with regard to criminal prosecution or extradition has been the subject of ongoing debate.[1]


Following World War II, Canada participated as one of the Allied Nations in the prosecution of war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials[2] and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.[2] Under Canada's War Trials Act, proceedings against war criminals lasted till 1948.

During the 1950s, anti-communist political climate turned public opinion away from the atrocities of the second world war and resulted in an immigration policy which was more permissive to former Nazis.[3][4] During this period, approximately 40,000 such individuals could more easily demonstrate a non-communist affiliation and therefore emigrated to Canada from Germany. Among the influx of Nazis were an unknown number of suspected war criminals. Ramon Hnatyshyn stated "Canada would not be a haven for those who would commit or who have committed crimes against humainity".[5][6] Despite growing awareness and some legislative changes it soon became clear that despite having the required legislation, Canada still lacked the political will to prosecute its most senior war criminals.[citation needed]

During the 1990s, suspected war criminals from more recent conflicts came to Canada. These included individuals wanted in connection with war crimes in Bosnia, some of the perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda, members of the Colombian secret police and from Sri Lanka. The treatment of these suspected individuals was seen to shed light on the prevalent attitudes towards suspected World War II war criminals.[citation needed] Trying these individuals whose lacked support networks within Canada and whose atrocities were still fresh in the public's memory and most importantly were unlikely to die soon of old age became a priority. They were hunted and either tried or deported[citation needed]. Information on World War II suspected criminals was suppressed by Canada and the United States.[citation needed] Some convicted war criminals were allowed to reside while others escaped due process.[7][8]

Deschênes Commission[edit]

In 1985, the Deschênes Commission was created as a Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada.[1] The Deschênes Commission recommended changes to the law of Canada to allow for the prosecution or deportation of suspected war criminals.[1] However, only a small number of cases were pursued.[1]

In 1994 it was announced that Canada would no longer be prosecuting Nazi war criminals.[9] In 1995, Australian Konrad Kalejs was allowed to leave Canada. Bernie Farber commented on the rescheduling of Kalejs' deportation hearing: "Granting him this delay without incarcerating him is tantamount to letting him escape." [7][8]

Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act[edit]

In 2000, the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act[10] passed as a statute of the Parliament of Canada, which implements Canada's obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.[11]

In the years following the 2000 legislation, the lack of political will to enforce laws against suspected Nazi war criminals may have signalled to other potential war criminals from more recent arenas of conflict that Canada was a safe haven.[citation needed] However, in select cases where a suspected war criminals lacked a supporting community, the likelihood of prosecution under the 2000 statute increased.[citation needed] In 2009, Désiré Munyaneza was found living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was the first man to be arrested and convicted in Canada on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. In 2011, Illandaridevage Kulatunga who was wanted for suspected war crimes in Sri Lanka was able to leave Canada.[citation needed] Manuel De La Torre Herrera, a former Peruvian police officer who stayed in Canada for two years, was apprehended and deported.[12]

Simon Wiesenthal Centre[edit]

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an independent organization which has frequently brought suspected Nazi war criminals to trial, has faulted the Government of Canada's efforts to investigate and prosecute Nazi war criminals.[1] A recent center publication claims that approximately 2,000 Nazi war criminals obtained Canadian citizenship by providing false information.[1] However, other sources have published different estimates. The actual number of surviving war criminals is difficult to determine. Some allege[who?] this is in part due to collusion between Canadian and United States authorities.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ottawa agrees to revisit case of suspected Nazi war criminal Vladimir Katriuk
  2. ^ a b Bassiouni, M. Cherif (1999). Crimes Against Humanity in International Criminal Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 5, 170–1, 224, 432, 530–2, 545–6. ISBN 978-90-411-1222-4. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Matas, David; Charendoff, Susan (1987). Justice delayed: Nazi war criminals in Canada. Summerhill Press. ISBN 978-0-920197-42-4. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Troper, Harold Martin; Weinfeld, Morton (1988). Old wounds: Jews, Ukrainians, and the hunt for Nazi war criminals in Canada. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-1852-7. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  5. ^ The Honorable Mr Ramon Hnatyshyn
  6. ^ Nuremberg Forty Years Later: The Struggle Against Injustice in Our Time By Irwin Cotler, McGill University. Faculty of Law, InterAmicus (Association) p35-36
  7. ^ a b "War criminal, awaiting deportation, dies in Canada - Jerusalem Post". AP. April 25, 1997. Retrieved 3 May 2012 – via HighBeam Research.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ a b Kezwer, Gil (June 29, 1995). "Suspected war criminal flees Canada just before visa expires - Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 3 May 2012 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Edwards, Bob; John Hauber (January 5, 1994). "Canada to Stop Prosecuting Suspected Nazi War Criminals". NPR Morning Edition transcript. Retrieved 3 May 2012 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required)
  10. ^ Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, S.C. 2000, c. 24.
  11. ^ Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, gc.ca.
  12. ^ "Alleged SL war criminal not in Canada". The Daily Mirror. Colombo, Sri Lanka. August 1, 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2012 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required)

Further reading[edit]

  • Nazi war criminals in Canada: the historical and policy setting from the 1940s to the present : prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals. Rodal, Alti 1986.
  • Justice delayed: Nazi war criminals in Canada Matas, David; Charendoff, Susan 1987
  • Old wounds: Jews, Ukrainians, and the hunt for Nazi war criminals in Canada Troper, Harold Martin; Weinfeld, Morton 1988
  • Nazi war criminals in Canada: five years after. Institute for International Affairs. Matas, David (1992).