Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Section B. Impediment of humanitarian relief
Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) provides that the war crimes defined in Article 8(2) of the 1998 ICC Statute are “crimes according to customary international law” and, as such, indictable offences under the Act.
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.”
In 2005, in a statement before the UN Commission on Human Rights on the human rights situation in Sudan, made on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the representative of Canada stated:
While the Government of Sudan is responsible for the lack of protection afforded to civilians and for many of the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amounting to crimes … rebel groups and armed militias share the responsibility for such egregious crimes as well. … Armed groups are also carrying out attacks against humanitarian workers, impeding their ability to help an increasingly vulnerable population. Sadly, unimpeded humanitarian access in Darfur is still not fully realised.
We call on the Government of Sudan to acknowledge these violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and for it and all parties to the conflict in Darfur to take the necessary measures to halt the atrocities being committed against the civilian population and to respect their international legal obligations. Furthermore, armed militias and rebel groups must immediately cease all actions that impede the delivery of humanitarian aid.
In 2012, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of Canada stated that “the denial of humanitarian access [is] of great concern … In too many contexts, humanitarian access is politicized and constrained. Civilians in need of assistance are held hostage to the whims of governments and of non-state armed groups.”
In 2013, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of Canada stated:
The brutal conflict in Syria represents a stark example of how much work remains to be achieved to better protect civilians who are routinely victims of deliberate and targeted attacks, as are hospitals, medical facilities and health care workers. The result is that people in desperate need are denied lifesaving humanitarian assistance. … We call on the Security Council … to issue a resolution allowing for the cross-border delivery of humanitarian assistance.
While the crisis in Syria is perhaps the most prominent example of current challenges to the protection of civilians, it is far from unique. …
In too many instances, humanitarian access is politicized and deliberately constrained. Civilians in need of assistance are held hostage to the whims of governments and of non-state armed groups trying to achieve their own political gains.