IHRP granted leave to intervene at Supreme Court in international criminal law case

Friday, October 26, 2012

The IHRP, in partnership with the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), was today granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.  The case is scheduled to be heard in Ottawa on January 17, 2013.

The case concerns the proper interpretation of Article 1(F)(a) of the Refugee Convention, as incorporated into Canadian law.  Article 1(F)(a) excludes from refugee protection a person for whom there are "serious reasons for considering" that he/she has "committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity."

The Appellant was the economic adviser and second counsellor of embassy to the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (the “DRC”) to the United Nations from December 1, 2004 until a few days before he arrived in Canada on January 17, 2008 to claim refugee protection, with his wife and eight children. Prior to serving as a diplomat with the DRC’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the Applicant had been a public servant in the DRC since January 1999, acting principally as an economic advisor.  Canada claims that the Appellant should be excluded from refugee protection on the grounds that he has committed crimes against humanity.

The IHRP and CCIJ will argue that, in determining the proper interpretation of Article 1(F)(a), the Court must be guided by the principles and jurisprudence of international criminal law, including the various modes of liability that must be established to determine whether someone has "committed" a war crime, crime against humanity, or genocide.  In particular, we will argue that under modern ICL, membership, without more, in an organization that has been associated with or implicated in international crimes is not itself enough to constitute an international crime.

The IHRP and CCIJ are being represented on a pro bono basis by John Terry and Sarah Shody at Torys LLP., along with IHRP Clinic Director Renu Mandhane. Two clinic students, Sofia Mariam Ijaz (2L) and Randle De Falco (LL.M.) have been working extensively on this file since September.

A copy of the IHRP and CCIJ's application for leave to appeal can be found here.