|The Canada Border Services Agency has released the names and photos of thirty men wanted for war crimes. The men are believed to be hiding out in Canada, and the agency is asking for the public’s help in bringing them to justice.
The individuals have been accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity and are listed as subjects of Canada-wide warrants for removal from the country.
“For too long now, those who have complicity in such grievous crimes have managed to blend in to a trusting and welcoming Canadian society which has remained largely unaware of their presence or their complicity in criminal acts,” said Vic Toews, minister of public safety. “I want to ensure Canadians that those who are suspected of or complicity in war crimes will find no haven on our shores.”
Minister Toews, Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, and Luc Portelance, president of the border agency, announced the list Thursday at the agency’s enforcement headquarters near Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
The 30 men on the list have been declared inadmissible to Canada for violation of human and international rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act or similar international law. The list does not represent all suspected war criminals being tracked by the agency, only the high-profile removal cases, the agency said.
The CBSA website lists their pictures as well as names and aliases, date of birth, last known place of residence and any identifying marks. 21 of the men were last known to be living in the Greater Toronto Area, four in Montreal, three in Alberta and one in both Ottawa and Kitchener. The youngest is a 30-year-old from Sudan, the oldest a 75-year-old Afghan.
Mr. Kenney praised Canada’s openness to new immigrants but issued a warning to those who breach the rules.
“To maintain that openness and public support for immigration, we must ensure that our system is governed by the rule of law… It is therefore extremely important that those who have lied to us, who snuck into the country without declaring their complicity in such crimes be rounded up and kicked out of Canada.”
But the biggest weakness of the release, and Canada’s immigration and refugee policy in general, is the strong focus on deportation, said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees.
“In many of these cases it’s not clear that deporting someone will mean they’ll be brought to justice,” she said. “If you deport them to a country where there’s no functioning justice system or where they might be taken up quite enthusiastically by the government in place – that’s not justice, and neither is it justice if they’re not going to get a fair trial and be able to defend themselves.”
Releasing the list to the public also risks feeding existing prejudices and increasing xenophobia, Ms. Dench said, and that the list could be unjustly condemning innocent people.
“People caught up in this might have their photos put up on a website with strong words like war crimes, crimes against humanity when according to the release there it says ‘accused of.’ We still believe in the theory of innocent until proven guilty.”
Canada’s war crimes program within the border services agency hasn’t had a funding increase since it was created in 1998, said Jane Stoyles, executive director at the Canadian Centre for International Justice. This leaves very little money for criminal investigations and prosecutions, she said.
“The standard of proof for an immigration approach is fairly low, contrasted with the incredibly serious consequences in a person’s life, of that stigma and being subjected to a process of denaturalization and deportation,” said Ms. Stoyles. “These kinds of allegations are very serious and it’s important for Canada to play a role in prosecuting people who may have been involved in war crimes, but we need to do that through a criminal process.”
Ahmen Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, said he was surprised to see Somalia so represented on the list, but he didn’t recognize any of the names. Four of the listed war criminals were of Somali descent, the most of any nation alongside Afghanistan.
“It’s troubling, and we hope we can work with the government on that,” he said.
Officials called on anyone with information to call the Border Watch hotline at 1-888-502-9060.
Below, according to the CBSA, a breakdown of where the men are from, and the number of suspects from each country
4 – Afghanistan
4 – Somalia
3 – Peru
2 – Ghana
2 – Nigeria
2 – Pakistan
2 – Sri Lanka
2 – The former republic of Yugoslavia
1 – Algeria
1 – Angola
1 – Democratic Republic of Congo
1 – El Salvador
1 – Guatemala
1 – Haiti
1 – Honduras
1 – Iraq
1 – Sudan
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