On an unusually busy August news day, this seems to me the most fascinating thing the Harper government has done today. First, a bit of background.
Jason Kenney and Vic Toews have been asking for Canadians’ help in finding people on the government’s war-crimes “wanted” list.
A week ago Amnesty International sent a letter to Kenney and Toews, expressing “concern about the approach the government has adopted” with these alleged fugitives. The nub of their argument:
“Over the past decade Amnesty International has frequently raised concern about the fact that Canada overwhelmingly resorts to immigration enforcement measures rather than the criminal law, when faced with the attempted entry into or presence in Canada of individuals who are alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or torture. We have highlighted that an immigration response is problematic for two key reasons:
• It fails to ensure that such individuals will in fact face justice. An official process of extradition or surrender would ensure that individuals are going to be dealt with under criminal proceedings in another jurisdiction. Deportation does not. All the deportation guarantees is that the person concerned will be removed from Canada. It is entirely possible that the individual, once deported, will not face any further investigation or criminal charges.
• It also fails to adequately safeguard against the possibility that in some cases, the individual concerned might be at risk of serious human rights violations. Canada’s international human rights obligations are clear – no person should be deported if he or she faces a serious risk of such grave human rights violations as torture, extrajudicial execution or enforced disappearance. This extends to individuals who may themselves have been responsible for grave human rights violations. There are no exceptions.”
Now Kenney has sent Amnesty an absolutely extraordinary response:
“Your calls for more time, more process, more deference and more protection for war criminals and serious human rights violators, by contrast, come across as self-congratulatory moral preening. I have listened to your concerns, and, frankly, I prefer the common sense of the people and the law.”
This isn’t a story I’ve been concentrating on, but I wanted to give you a chance to read Kenney’s and Amnesty’s letters before we go any further.