Practice Relating to Rule 100. Fair Trial Guarantees
Section C. Presumption of innocence
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides that in non-international armed conflicts, “accused persons shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on non-international armed conflicts: “As a minimum, accused persons: … d. shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”.
In 2009, in the Munyaneza case
, Canada’s Superior Court of Québec found a Rwandan national who had been residing in Canada guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994. The Court held: “In Canada, the accused has the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence. Therefore, it is up to the Crown to demonstrate the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In 2013, in the Mungwarere case, Canada’s Ontario Superior Court of Justice acquitted Mr. Mungwarere of charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda in 1994. The Court stated:
The Law: The fundamental principles of Canadian criminal law
63. The accused is presumed to be innocent and it is for the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
64. The presumption of innocence applies throughout the trial. It shall cease to apply only at the end of the trial, if after taking into account the totality of evidence the Crown has convinced the court beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of which he is accused. The accused is not required to prove anything in the present case.
65. The presumption of innocence applies to issues of credibility. It is not only about choosing the version of the story which appears more likely to have happened. If following the analysis of the totality of evidence, the trier of facts is not convinced beyond any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, the accused must be acquitted.
66. In the case at stake, the central question is to know whether the accused actively and with the required criminal intention took part in the deadly attacks against the Tutsi which took place in the area of Kibuye from April to July 1994. Mr. Mungwarere has testified and denied any implication in these attacks. If his testimony is believed, he must be acquitted. The presumption of innocence applies. Consequently, even if Mr. Mungwarere is not believed, if his testimony raises a reasonable doubt on his participation, he must be acquitted. Likewise, if the testimony of Mr. Mungwarere is rejected, he cannot be declared guilty unless if, in light of the totality of the other evidence, the court is convinced beyond reasonable doubt of his guilt.