Practice Relating to Rule 88. Non-Discrimination
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) establishes non-discrimination as an operational principle of the law of armed conflict, stating: “The LOAC is to be applied without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, gender, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”
The manual restates common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and specifies:
[Additional Protocol II] applies without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, gender, language, religion, or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status, or any other similar criteria.
[Additional Protocol II] provides that all persons not participating in the conflict or who have ceased to do so are entitled to respect … and to be treated … without adverse distinction.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states:
The principle of non-discrimination must be considered in two aspects. First, the LOAC binds both sides in a conflict. Although one side may label the other an aggressor, it is not entitled to apply the law in a different way because of that assertion. Second, the LOAC is to be applied without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, gender, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. The fact that the enemy is of a different colour or a different religion does not allow the other party to apply the law in a different fashion.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflicts, the manual restates the provisions of common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions:
By Common Article 3, the parties to a non-international armed conflict occurring in the territory of a party to the Conventions are obliged to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
a. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat
by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, gender, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
In the same chapter, the manual further states:
1711. No Adverse Discrimination
1. [Additional Protocol II] applies without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, gender, language, religion or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria.
2. [Additional Protocol II] provides that all persons not participating in the conflict or who have ceased to do so are entitled, whether under restriction or not, to respect for their persons, honour and convictions, and religious practices, and are, in all circumstances, to be treated humanely and without adverse distinction.
Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) provides that the crimes against humanity defined in Article 7 of the 1998 ICC Statute are “crimes according to customary international law” and, as such, indictable offences under the Act.
In 2005, in the Mugesera case, Canada’s Supreme Court confirmed a deportation order on grounds of incitement to murder, hatred and genocide, and a crime against humanity, in Rwanda in 1992. The Court stated:
2. The outcome of the appeal hinges on the characterization of a speech delivered by the respondent Léon Mugesera in Rwanda in the Kinyarwandan language. The speech triggered a series of events that have brought the Government of Canada and Mr. Mugesera to this Court.
4. In 1995, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration became aware of allegations against the respondent and commenced proceedings under s. 27 of the Immigration Act. A permanent resident of Canada may be deported if it is determined, inter alia, that before or after being granted permanent residency, the individual committed criminal acts or offences. In this case, the speech was alleged to constitute an incitement to murder, hatred and genocide, and a crime against humanity.
5. In July 1996, an adjudicator concluded that the allegations were valid and issued a deportation order against Mr. Mugesera and his family. The Immigration and Refugee Board (Appeal Division) (“IAD”) upheld the adjudicator’s decision and dismissed the respondents’ appeal… The findings of fact and law were subject to judicial review in the Federal Court – Trial Division (“FCTD”)…, and then in the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”). Décary J.A., writing for the FCA, reversed several findings of fact made by the IAD and reversed the deportation order, concluding that the Minister had not met his burden… The Minister has now appealed to this Court, and he asks that the IAD’s deportation order be confirmed.
7. For the reasons that follow, we would allow the appeal. The decision of the FCA should be set aside and the decision of the IAD in favour of deportation should be restored.
C. Crimes Against Humanity
129. The proscribed acts listed in s. 7(3.76) of the Criminal Code provide a first and essential requirement for a crime against humanity: an “underlying offence” must be committed. In essence, the listed acts represent the different ways in which a crime against humanity can be committed. This means that various acts may become crimes against humanity as long as the other elements of the offence are met. In s. 7(3.76) those crimes are murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission.
131. The question we must now consider is whether, as alleged by the Minister, Mr. Mugesera’s speech satisfies the initial criminal act requirement for a crime against humanity. We have found that the speech counselled murders which were not committed and incited hatred and genocide. This raises two issues: whether counselling a murder that is not committed meets the initial criminal act requirement for murder as a crime against humanity and whether speech inciting hatred meets the initial criminal act requirement for persecution as a crime against humanity.
2. Speech that Incites Hatred and Persecution as a Crime Against Humanity
138. Both the ICTR and the ICTY have approached the question of speech inciting hatred as relating to the enumerated act of “persecution”. Persecution is expressly listed in s. 7(3.76) of the Criminal Code as one of the underlying acts which, in the appropriate circumstances, may constitute a crime against humanity.
139. Determining whether an act constitutes persecution can be difficult. Persecution, unlike the other acts enumerated in s. 7(3.76), is not a standalone crime in Canadian law or in the legal systems of other countries: M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes Against Humanity in International Criminal Law (2nd rev. ed. 1999), at p. 327. In contrast with murder, for instance, it is not evident from our domestic law what types of acts will constitute persecution.
140. … In considering the criminal act of persecution in Prosecutor v. Tadic, 112 ILR 1 (Trial Chamber II 1997), the ICTY, having reviewed the relevant jurisprudence and academic commentary, found that persecution “is some form of discrimination [on traditionally recognized grounds such as race, religion, or politics] that is intended to be and results in an infringement of an individual’s fundamental rights” (para. 697).
141. A danger arises, however, that the criminal act of persecution, as so defined, might apply to acts that are far less serious than the other forms of crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity should not be trivialized by applying the concept to fact situations which do not warrant the full opprobrium of international criminal sanction. Thus, the ICTY found in Prosecutor v. Kupreskic, Case No. IT-95-16-T (Trial Chamber II) 14 January 2000, that the alleged persecution, in order to satisfy the criminal act requirement, must reach the same level of gravity as the other enumerated underlying acts. Persecution as a crime against humanity must constitute a “gross or blatant denial, on discriminatory grounds, of a fundamental right, laid down in international customary or treaty law, reaching the same level of gravity as the other acts prohibited” (para. 621).
142. Turning to the requisite mental element for persecution, we find that the accused must have intended to commit the persecutory acts and must have committed them with discriminatory intent. The requirement for discriminatory intent is unique to persecution and need not be shown in respect of the other forms of crimes against humanity … This point was made persuasively in the appeal from the Trial Chamber’s decision in Tadic, in which the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY conducted a thorough review of the international law principles on discriminatory intent and crimes against humanity in reaching a conclusion that the discriminatory intent requirement is unique to crimes against humanity which take the form of persecution: 124 ILR 61 (1999), at paras. 287–92.
143. The ICTR too has concluded that discriminatory intent is relevant only to persecution: Prosecutor v. Akayesu, Case No. ICTR-96-4-A (Appeals Chamber), 1 June 2001, at paras. 460– 69. This is particularly significant since crimes against humanity as defined in art. 3 of the ICTR statute must be committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against any civilian population “on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds”. In this respect, the judgment of our Court in Finta appears to be inconsistent with the recent jurisprudence of the ICTR and the ICTY. …
144. We see no reason to depart from the well-reasoned and persuasive findings of the ICTY and the ICTR on the question of discriminatory intent. Insofar as Finta suggested that discriminatory intent was required for all crimes against humanity … it should no longer be followed on this point.
145. We conclude from the preceding discussion that the criminal act of persecution is the gross or blatant denial of a fundamental right on discriminatory grounds. The guilty mental state is discriminatory intent to deny the right. The fundamental question remains to be answered: Was Mr. Mugesera’s speech a gross or blatant denial of fundamental rights on discriminatory grounds such that it was equal in gravity to the other acts enumerated in s. 7(3.76)?
146. The ICTR and the ICTY have both considered whether hate speech can ever satisfy the criminal act requirement for persecution. In one prominent case, the ICTR found that it was “evident” that hate speech targeting a population on the basis of ethnicity, or other discriminatory grounds was equal in gravity to the other enumerated acts:
Media Case, at para. 1072. The ICTY, on the other hand, found in Kordic that the hate speech alleged in the indictment did not constitute persecution because it did not rise to the same level of gravity as the other enumerated acts (para. 209). The Trial Chamber distinguished hate speech that could properly form the basis of a crime against humanity from the hate speech alleged in the indictment, which fell short of incitement to murder, extermination, and genocide (footnote 272). The guiding concern must therefore always be whether the alleged persecutory act reaches the level of a gross or blatant denial of fundamental rights equivalent in gravity to the other enumerated acts.
147. In Keegstra, this Court found that the harm in hate speech lies not only in the injury to the self-dignity of target group members but also in the credence that may be given to the speech, which may promote discrimination and even violence … This finding suggests that hate speech always denies fundamental rights. The equality and the life, liberty and security of the person of target-group members cannot but be affected: see, e.g., Prosecutor v. Ruggiu, 39 ILM 1338 (ICTR, Trial Chamber I 2000), at para. 22. This denial of fundamental rights may, in particular instances, reach the level of a gross or blatant denial equal in gravity to the other acts enumerated in s. 7(3.76). This is particularly likely if the speech openly advocates extreme violence (such as murder or extermination) against the target group, but it may not be limited to such instances. In contrast to the case of counselling an enumerated violent act, whether the persecution actually results in the commission of acts of violence is irrelevant: Media Case, at para. 1073.
148. What then can be said of Mr. Mugesera’s speech? Mr. Duquette found as a matter of fact that Mr. Mugesera’s speech had incited hatred of Tutsi and of his political opponents … This incitement included the encouragement of acts of extreme violence … Keeping in mind that acts of persecution must be evaluated in context, Mr. Duquette’s finding that Mr. Mugesera’s speech occurred in a volatile situation characterized by rampant ethnic tensions and political instability which had already led to the commission of massacres is also compelling … A speech such as Mr. Mugesera’s, which actively encouraged ethnic hatred, murder and extermination and which created in its audience a sense of imminent threat and the need to act violently against an ethnic minority and against political opponents, bears the hallmarks of a gross or blatant act of discrimination equivalent in severity to the other underlying acts listed in s. 7(3.76). The criminal act requirement for persecution is therefore met.
149. Having concluded that the criminal act requirement for persecution is made out, we must go on to consider whether the culpable mental element of persecution is made out. Mr. Duquette found that Mr. Mugesera had a discriminatory intent in delivering his speech … He found that Mr. Mugesera targeted Tutsi and political opponents on the sole basis of ethnicity and political affiliation with the intent to compel his audience into action against these groups. The IAD’s [Immigration and Refugee Board Appellate Division] findings of fact thus amply support a finding that Mr. Mugesera not only committed the criminal act of persecution, but did so with the requisite discriminatory intent.
150. In sum, the criminal act requirement for a crime against humanity under ss. 7(3.76) and 7(3.77) of the Criminal Code contains two primary elements: (1) the accused has committed an underlying enumerated act; and (2) that act contravened international law. With respect to the first element, both the physical and mental elements of the underlying act must be made out. In the case at bar, there were two possible underlying acts: counselling of murder, and persecution by hate speech. For counselling of murder to be considered a crime against humanity under international law, murders must actually have been committed. Mr. Duquette’s finding that no murders were proven to have resulted from the speech therefore precludes a finding that Mr. Mugesera counselled murder within the meaning of s. 7(3.76). The other possible underlying act, persecution is a gross or blatant denial of fundamental rights on discriminatory grounds equal in severity to the other acts enumerated in s. 7(3.76). Hate speech, particularly when it advocates egregious acts of violence, may constitute persecution. In this case, it does.
179. Based on Mr. Duquette’s findings of fact, each element of the offence in s. 7(3.76) of the Criminal Code
has been made out. We are therefore of the opinion that reasonable grounds exist to believe that Mr. Mugesera committed a crime against humanity.
In 2013, in the Sapkota case
, Canada’s Federal Court dismissed a request for review of a decision denying refugee protection to the applicant on grounds of complicity in crimes against humanity in Nepal between 1991 and 2009. While reviewing the submissions of the respondent, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Court stated: “The Respondent notes that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
… is endorsed in Canada as a source of customary law.”