Trudeau’s recognition of genocide can have significant consequences

Trudeau’s recognition of genocide can have significant consequences
Trudeau’s recognition of genocide can have significant consequences

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s acceptance of the findings of a commission of inquiry that Canada has committed genocide against Indigenous peoples could have enormous legal impact if a tribunal were to address the federal government’s responsibility in an issue. possible trial for crimes against humanity, experts say.

In the wake of the discovery of anonymous graves on the grounds of a former residential school for Indigenous children, Trudeau reiterated this week that he accepts the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, reporting “genocide”.

“To truly heal these wounds, we must first recognize the truth, not only about residential schools, but the past and present injustices that indigenous peoples face,” he said Thursday.

According to a law professor at the University of Montreal, Bruno Gélinas-Faucher, if a court were to judge Canada in this case, it would have to assess whether these acts constitute genocide under international law and whether the country is responsible for them. “A court could say, under the current rules of international law, that the state has accepted responsibility under international law for the crime of genocide,” he explains. This is not an easy task. “

For its part, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published a report in 2015, after years of study of these church-run and federally sponsored residential schools, which operated in Canada for more than 120 years. The report explained that “physical genocide” is “the slaughter of members of a targeted group”, while “cultural genocide” is “the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue to live as a group. “.

The discovery of the remains of 215 children in an anonymous burial place in Kamloops has raised the question of whether Canada faces new legal consequences for widespread abuse and death at residential schools.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, can consider cases referred by the United Nations Security Council, the state itself, or if the court’s prosecutor opens an investigation.

A group of Calgary lawyers have formally asked the international court to appoint an extraordinary prosecutor to investigate the Canadian government and the Vatican after the recent discovery in Kamloops.

However, the court must examine whether a case meets certain criteria before launching an investigation, reports Professor Gélinas-Faucher.

“The court only prosecutes the most heinous and serious crimes. He will not prosecute low-ranking officials, he adds. The court is only going after big fish. “

Like Germany?

David MacDonald, a political science professor at the University of Guelph, points out that states rarely admit to mass murder.

Thus, if Germany recently admitted having committed acts of genocide during the Herero rebellion in 1904, in Namibia, it is because the former monarchical regime was responsible, he emphasizes.

But if Canada admitted to having committed genocide, it could not blame another political regime.

“Here, throughout the residential school period, we had Liberal governments and Conservative oppositions or Conservative governments and Liberal oppositions,” recalls Professor MacDonald.

The Canadian government would then have to admit that a genocide took place under the same institutional regime.

“Previous parties, previous Parliaments, the previous RCMP, previous Indian affairs departments, all would have committed genocide,” says MacDonald. Mentalities have changed and all the staff are different, but there is institutional continuity in Canada, which is not the case in Germany. “

On Thursday, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 Saskatchewan First Nations, welcomed Trudeau’s confession that Canada has committed genocide.

“Our leaders have denounced this genocide for decades. It is high time that their efforts were recognized and that the Prime Minister admitted that what happened to our people was nothing less than genocide, ”said FSIN chief Bobby Cameron.

This text was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook Stock Exchanges and The Canadian Press for News.

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