Motion No. 2
That Bill C-19 be amended by adding after line 12 on page 2 the following new clause:
“2.1 The purpose of this Act is to implement Canada's obligations under the Rome Statute.”
Motion No. 5
That Bill C-19, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing lines 30 to 43 on page 9 and lines 1 to 6 on page 10 with the following:
“8. A person who is alleged to have committed an offence under section 6 or 7 may be prosecuted for that offence if, at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, Canada could exercise jurisdiction over the person.”
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-19 be amended by adding after line 2 on page 11 the following new clause:
“11.1 For greater certainty, in proceedings for an offence under any of sections 4 to 7, an accused who formerly occupied a position as a Head of State or government, member of a Government or parliament, elected representative or government official and who, at the time of the proceedings, no longer occupies that position, may not rely on immunities or special procedural rules that may attach, by virtue of statute law or common law, to the official capacity of the person.”
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-19 be amended by adding after line 14 on page 22 the following new clause:
“32.1 A certificate issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs stating that at a certain time a state of war or armed conflict existed between Canada and the state named therein is admissible in evidence in any proceedings in respect of an act or omission that constitutes an offence under this Act and is conclusive proof of the facts so stated.”
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-19, in Clause 70, be amended by replacing lines 23 and 24 on page 37 with the following:
“of the Extradition Act, the Visiting Forces Act, the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act or the Foreign Missions and International”
Madam Speaker, that group of motions will give us the opportunity to comment on the substance of Bill C-19.
As a plenipotentiary in this House and after hearing with pleasure the comments of my colleagues from the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party, as well as those of the Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, I would like to begin my speech on the second series of my substantive amendments to this the bill by saying that the Bloc Quebecois strongly supports Bill C-19.
We believe that it is very important for the House to pass the bill so it can become an inspiration for other nations or parliaments that will also be called upon to meet their international obligations by fulfilling the commitments resulting from their participation in the Rome conference, the adoption of the statute, its signature and its ultimate ratification, which usually follows the adoption of an implementation bill like Bill C-19.
It is true that Canada could become one of the main advocates of the statute in the international community to convince 50 other states to ratify the Rome Statute. So far, ten nations, one very recently, have ratified the statute. We need 50 more countries to pass similar legislation so that the statute can come into force and the International criminal court can start to operate, try and, if need be, sentence people found guilty of serious crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes.
Consequently the Bloc fully supports the bill and, with my colleagues from Mercier and Laval Centre, we co-operated in the work of the committee to improve the bill. However, there is still room for improvement. That is the object of some of our amendments at report stage. Incidentally, we had made our intentions known in this regard in committee.
I understand the secretary of state's surprise, but is it not appropriate sometimes for the opposition to surprise the government? It always has so many surprises in store for us.
In this case, we wanted to propose a few amendments to further improve the bill. I will call the members' attention to two of those amendments for the purposes of this debate and, most likely, for the purposes of the arguments that may take be raised before the courts that will be called upon to enforce this legislation, prosecute and eventually convict the authors of such serious crimes.
Motion No. 5, which amends clause 8 of the bill, would give Canadian courts extended universal jurisdiction in the case of serious international crimes such as those covered by Bill C-19. In this bill, universal jurisdiction is limited in scope because there has to be some kind of connection with regard to the nationality of the victim or the accused, or to the person who, during an armed conflict, committed a war crime.
There is also the connection to the territory since a person cannot be accused if he or she is not present in Canada. We would like to see this notion of custodian jurisdiction extended so that Canada has the power to request the extradition of a person for prosecution under this bill, a power countries such as Belgium and Switzerland seem to have already assumed.
We would like the universal jurisdiction recognized in Bill C-19 to be wider in scope, so that Canada can stop being a haven for war criminals and become a place where these people are brought to justice. If Canada gave its courts extended universal jurisdiction, compared to what is provided for in Bill C-19 as it stands now, Canada would be in a position where it would meet its international commitments better than any other country and where it would show its desire not to let serious international crimes go unpunished.
There is another provision that we would wish to see amended. It would involve adding to this bill a new clause, clause 11.1, which would very explicitly recognize that, if a foreign head of state or government or member of a government, or even a member of parliament, is on Canadian territory and could be brought to trial, this person would not be able to rely on immunity before the courts.
To make this clear, we could give the example of General Pinochet who, if he were on Canadian territory, could be brought to trial, but could perhaps claim some immunity before our courts if our legislation were not clear enough.
During the work of the committee, experts from the Department of Foreign Affairs told us that the precedents set by the judiciary committee of the privy council in London that examined the case of Mr. Pinochet had deprived General Pinochet of his immunity. Consequently, these precedents could be applied here. The common law that resulted from these precedents could be applied by our courts and deprive someone such as General Pinochet or someone in a similar situation of his immunity.
What the Bloc Quebecois would have wished for and still wishes for is for these precedents set by the judiciary committee of the Privy Council to be included in the bill.
This is why we are proposing subclause 11.1, which would clearly say that an accused who formerly occupied a position as a head of state or government, member of a government or parliament, elected representative or government official and who, at the time of the proceedings, no longer occupies that position, may not rely on immunities or special procedural rules that may attach, by virtue of statute law or common law, to the official capacity of the person.
Such a provision would be useful because it would provide for more certainty; we would be absolutely sure that individuals suspected of having committed serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide, could not obtain immunity before our courts. It would enshrine the common law in the statutes of Canada and would allow courts to strip those individuals of their immunity in order to punish crimes that should be punished.
We have proposed other amendments that should improve this bill, including a provision clearly stating that this act relates to the discharge of Canada's obligations under the Rome Statute.
In conclusion, I would like to say how important it is to sustain the effort to ensure rapid implementation of the Rome Statute.
The adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries was a turning point in the history of humanity. We are collectively trying to establish an institution that would allow nations and international institutions to truly punish international crimes. We already have an institution. All we need now is to adopt and ratify the treaties, pass the implementing legislation, as we are doing today, and that dream will become reality.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to someone who is no longer with us, Justice Jules Deschênes, who devoted part of his life to these issues. A major report was drafted by the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, which he presided. I want to pay tribute to Justice Deschênes and to thank him and his family for his contribution to this debate, which he would have been proud to witness today.