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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
  • participate in an investigation or process to revoke or prohibit citizenship
  • present evidence that could deny refugee status to individuals suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity
  • presenting evidence that could deny entry to 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 Pursuant to Paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

The Minister of Public Safety has the authority, pursuant to subparagraph 35(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), to designate a regime which, in the opinion of the Minister, engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity within the meaning of subsections 6(3) to (5) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Prescribed senior officials encompass a wide array of individuals in a regime, including heads of state, members of the Cabinet, ambassadors, senior diplomats, members of the judiciary, senior military and intelligence officials and 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 paragraph 35(1)(b) of the IRPA. The decision to designate 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, region or country, are included in the 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.
    Designation of the Iranian regime

    As the people of Iran continue to stand up and demand their rights, Canada stands with them and is taking action to prevent senior members of the Iranian regime from finding safe haven in Canada.

    In , the Minister of Public Safety implemented the designation of the Iranian regime pursuant to Paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This means that Canada has identified the regime as one that has engaged in terrorism and systematic and gross human rights violations. As a result of the designation, all senior officials in the service of the Iranian regime, from , onwards, are inadmissible to Canada. A whole-of-government approach is being deployed to ensure compliance with the designation.

    The Iranian regime designation acts as a prevention tool that ensures that prescribed senior officials will not be granted a Canadian visa in the first place. The fact that the regime has been designated also serves to discourage Iranian senior officials from attempting to travel to Canada.

    Implementation of the designation

    The CBSA is responsible for conducting admissibility investigations on foreign nationals and permanent residents in Canada. Should a CBSA investigation conclude that an individual currently in the country is inadmissible due to being a senior official in a designated regime, a formal case is built against them. The case is then referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which is responsible for making the final admissibility decision. Should the individual be deemed inadmissible by the IRB, they will be subject to removal from Canada.

    An individual may be found inadmissible even if they are not captured by the regime designation. For example, individuals may be inadmissible for reasons, including terrorism, criminality, human rights violations, national security concerns, or for membership in organizations (such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) that have engaged in these acts.

    Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is responsible for making decisions on all visa applications including for any person outside of Canada. When requested by IRCC, the CBSA provides admissibility recommendations for foreign nationals to support IRCC in their decision making on visa applications.

    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
    • 86 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
    • 13 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 (12 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 3 of these cases while the rest continue to undergo preparations prior to being sent for scheduling
      • 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
  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.

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