A “gap” in the Criminal Code means that Canadian police are safe from prosecution for crimes committed while deployed as UN peacekeepers. Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has recognized this for years. In 2019, following revelations six police officers escaped justice for sex crimes Hired while serving in Haiti, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has vowed to establish a framework to ensure future accountability. Two years later, the gap persists and criminal liability is impossible. It is high time Prime Minister Trudeau put this issue first and send a clear message that Canada is a champion of human rights and the rule of law. said It is.
When working for the UN, all personnel (civilians, police and military) are protected from prosecution by the host state. Ensuring accountability is therefore the dual responsibility of the UN and the contributing State.. Following allegations of wrongdoing by police or civilian personnel, the UN informs the contributing State and investigates. If the allegations are founded, the UN then repatriates the accused personnel and their State of origin assumes the responsibility of imposing disciplinary measures and, if possible, of instituting criminal proceedings.
The Criminal Code of Canada and the National Defense Law cover crimes committed abroad – including while attached to United Nations peacekeeping operations – by military personnel or civilians employed in the framework of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). There are no provisions covering police officers or civilian personnel who are not employed in the federal public service. This means that the Government of Canada does not have the legal capacity to prosecute police officers or civilians not employed by the PSEA for crimes they commit while serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions. United.
In 2019, the RSC obtained internal GAC documents highlighting what the GAC itself described as a “difference” in the Criminal Code and exposing Canada’s repeated failures to cooperate with UN-led investigations.
The UN had investigated six Canadian police officers who were part of its mission in Haiti. A was repatriated after allegedly seeking the services of a local sex worker and threatening her with his UN-issued firearm. Four other people allegedly abused or engaged in exploiter relations with local women. Two of these four have fathered children with Haitian women. The alleged actions of the sixth officer are unclear.
One of these officers left the country before the UN could complete its investigation. Once back in Canada, the government could not force him to participate further. Of the five remaining officers, two avoided sanctions by taking early retirement. The most severe punishment received was a nine day suspension.
Invited to comment on these revelations in 2019, Freeland told CBC: “It is totally unacceptable for [officers] to harm the people they are sent to protect. And it’s important for us to make sure that we have a framework here in Canada that allows us to deal with any offenses committed outside the country.
In an email, GAC spokesperson Grantly Franklin noted the creation within the GAC of a “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Prevention Unit (PSEA) … which leads the coordination of PSEA efforts. in Canada’s international initiatives across the department “.
The RCMP prohibits sexual relations between deployed personnel and members of the local population, Franklin added. Police are reminded of this during pre-deployment training and must sign a letter committing to comply with the policy.
Strengthening preventive measures and training personnel before deployment is important but does not guarantee accountability once crimes have been committed.
Franklin said the repatriated police officers are “subject to disciplinary or conduct proceedings and, where appropriate, criminal investigation.” But criminal investigations and prosecutions can only take place where Canada has the legal authority to assume jurisdiction. Article 7 of the Criminal Code covers sexual offenses against children but not adults. Disciplinary measures are generally light and are unlikely to deter future sexual misconduct.
In other words, Canada’s “framework” for peacekeeper accountability has not changed since Freeland said Canada needed a more effective framework in 2019.
Other countries like Japan and Norway have extended their jurisdiction to cover all their citizens serving as peacekeepers, but no country has enacted national legislation committing to investigate and prosecute personnel. Rather, contributing countries sign memoranda of understanding promising to ensure the accountability of their staff, but the UN lacks the means to enforce these agreements.
There is no binding international mechanism obliging states to investigate or prosecute their peacekeepers. This helps to explain why, despite the The UN’s Zero Tolerance Policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and the more than 2000 allegations filed since the 1990s, criminal prosecutions have been extremely rare, and states don’t even respond to UN demands for information or updates regarding the surveys.
“Canada generally exercises extraterritorial jurisdiction over criminal offenses only for the protection of its national security interests or when its obligations under international treaties so require, such as torture, war crimes and human rights offenses. ‘sexual exploitation of children’, Ian McLeod, spokesperson for the Department of Justice. , said in an email.
It’s not sufficient. This means that victims of sexual abuse committed by Canadian police in the context of UN missions have little chance of obtaining justice.
The Liberals should therefore draft legislation that covers all non-military Canadian personnel (civilian and police) assigned to UN missions and calls on the federal government, the RCMP and participating police forces to cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the United Nations. UN. It would describe the responsibilities of each actor and the processes to be followed once an allegation is made, including transparent communication with the UN and the Canadian public. Once enacted, the Criminal Code should be amended to cover all personnel deployed under this law.
By taking this step, the Liberals would be setting a precedent that other states could emulate, and it would send a clear message that Canada keeps its promises and is committed to fighting for human rights and the rule of law.