Language selection


Border measures to keep war criminals out of Canada

From: Canada Border Services Agency

Our team works with partner organizations to deny safe haven in Canada to individuals who may have been involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

Our response to suspected war criminals

Individuals who commit crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide are not welcome in Canada. If such an individual is identified in Canada, or suspected to be in Canada, the CBSA can:

  • provide support to criminal investigations and prosecutions under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act
  • support an investigation or process to revoke or prohibit citizenship
  • identify cases and present evidence that could result in denial of refugee protection to individuals suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity
  • conduct admissibility investigations, write inadmissibility reports and present evidence that could result in a finding of inadmissibility on individuals suspected of crimes against humanity or war crimes in admissibility proceedings
  • remove individuals from Canada who are inadmissible on the grounds of crimes against humanity or war crimes

Regimes designated by the Government of Canada

The Minister of Public Safety has the legal authority to designate a regime they are of the opinion engages or has engaged in:

  • terrorism
  • systematic or gross human rights violations
  • genocide
  • a war crime or a crime against humanity

Prescribed senior officials associated with these regimes are “inadmissible.” That means they are not allowed into Canada. They could include:

  • heads of state
  • members of the Cabinet
  • ambassadors
  • senior diplomats
  • members of the judiciary
  • senior military
  • intelligence officials
  • senior public servants

Certain regimes are not recognized as legitimate governments by Canada or other countries. These regimes may still be designated by the Minister of Public Safety under the law.

The decision to designate regimes does not alter Canada’s official stance on the regime’s legitimacy as a government. Regimes that function as de facto national authorities in control of a territory, that is, regimes that control of a territory, region or country, are included in the list of designated regimes.

List of designated regimes

The following is a list of all regimes designated by the Government of Canada pursuant to subparagraph 35(1)(b) of the IRPA. Any foreign nationals or permanent residents who were or are prescribed senior officials in these regimes are inadmissible to Canada.

  1. Designated : the Islamic Republic of Iran from onwards.

    About the designation of the Iranian regime

    Canada stands with the people of Iran, who continue to fight for their rights. We have taken action to stop senior members of the Iranian regime from seeking or finding safe haven in Canada.

    In , the Minister of Public Safety implemented a designation on the regime in Iran. The designation is pursuant to Paragraph 35(1)(b) of the IRPA. This means that Canada has identified the regime as one that has engaged in terrorism and systematic and gross human rights violations. From November 15, 2019 onwards, all senior officials who have served in the regime are not admissible to Canada.

    The designation prevents senior officials of the Iranian regime from getting into Canada by denying or cancelling their visa.

    Implementation of the designation

    The CBSA conducts investigation on foreign nationals and permanent resident in Canada to determine whether they are admissible. If a CBSA investigation finds that an individual in the country is not admissible, a formal case is built against them. The case is referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), who makes a final decision on whether the individual is allowed in Canada. If they are found inadmissible, they are subject to removal from Canada.

    An individual may be found inadmissible even if they were not senior officials who served in the Iranian regime. They may be inadmissible for terrorism, criminality, human rights violations, national security concerns or for membership in organizations that have engaged in these acts.

    Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is responsible for making decisions on all visa applications. To support IRCC in their decision making, the CBSA is often asked to provide admissibility recommendations.

    Actions taken to date

    As of , under the designation of the Iranian regime:

    • approximately 17,800 applications were reviewed for potential inadmissibility
    • 82 visas were cancelled by IRCC
    • 87 investigations have been launched by the CBSA
      • Additional investigations will be launched as new information becomes available.
    • 43 investigations have been closed by the CBSA, which means that the individuals in question were either not in Canada or determined not to be a senior official in the Iranian regime and therefore not inadmissible for this reason
      • The remaining cases are subject to ongoing investigations or enforcement action
    • 15 persons have been reported inadmissible by the CBSA for being a senior official in the Iranian regime
      • All well-founded cases involving individuals in Canada (14 to date) have been or will be sent to the Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB for an admissibility hearing (hearings can only be held for persons in Canada)
      • The CBSA has requested the scheduling of 7 of these cases, while the rest continue to undergo preparations prior to being sent for scheduling. Of these 7
      • 2 admissibility hearings have been completed, resulting in decisions by the Immigration Division (ID): both individuals were found inadmissible for being prescribed senior officials and were issued deportation orders
        • 1 individual has been removed from Canada
      • 5 are ongoing
  2. Designated : the Government of Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam from , to .
  3. Designated , amended : the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from , to .
  4. Designated , amended : the governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia under Slobodan Milosevic from , to .
  5. Designated : the government of Rwanda under Juvénal Habyarimana from to as well as the interim government in power from to .
  6. Designated , amended : the governments of Ahmed Hassan Al Bakr and Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq from until .
  7. Designated : the former Marxist regimes in Afghanistan from to .
  8. Designated : the former military governments in Haiti from to and from to , except for the period from to .
  9. Designated : the Siad Barre regime in Somalia from to .
  10. Designated , extended on : the Bosnian-Serb regime from , to .

Investigating crimes in Ukraine

Canada is aware of the serious allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine. In response, Canada will continue to cooperate with international partners, including the International Criminal Court, to seek accountability for these most serious crimes.

Canada’s national police service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), through its participation in Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, has opened an investigation into these allegations. If you were in Ukraine during the conflict and you are planning to come to Canada, or are already in Canada, you may have information and evidence that can assist with this investigation.

To submit information, please visit the RCMP's webpage on its investigation.

Reporting suspicious activities or individuals

You are encouraged to report any suspicious activities or individuals who may be inadmissible to Canada using our Border Watch Line.

Related links

Date modified: