May 23, 2009

Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act

Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (CAHWCA) was passed into law on June 24, 2000, making Canada the first country in the world to incorporate the obligations of the Rome Statute into its national laws.

The Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act officially criminalizes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes based on customary and conventional international law, including the Rome Statute of the ICC. Defining these crimes in Canadian law allows Canada to take advantage of the complementarity provisions under the Rome Statute.

Desire Munyaneza was the first person to be charged under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. He was arrested in Toronto in 2005 after seeking asylum in Canada, which Canadian immigration officials rejected.

Desire Munyaneza was born in 1966 as the son of a wealthy Hutu shopkeeper in Butare. He was running the town's main general store when the genocide in Rwanda began in April 1994.

According to a report of the organization “African Rights”, Munyaneza was known as a political extremist even before April 1994. He is said to have formed close working relationships with the principal military officers and local government officials in charge of the genocide in Butare. During the 100 days of killings, he distinguished himself by virtue of his energy and dedication to the policy of massacres, and the efficiency of his operations [Source].

He is now facing a maximum of 25 years in prison in Canada after a Canadian Court found him guilty of guilty of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity for 1994 rapes, murders and torture in Rwanda.

Desire Munyaneza, 42, was found guilty of seven counts by a Quebec Superior Court for acts committed in southern Rwanda from April to July 1994 under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

"As an armed conflict raged in Rwanda between the military and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Desire Munyaneza intentionally killed dozens in Butare and its surroundings that were not directly involved in the conflict, raped several women, and pillaged homes and businesses of people who also had nothing to do with the unrest," judge Andre Denis said in court.

"As such, you have been found guilty of committing war crimes as defined under Canadian law," he said to the accused [Source]

For more information about Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, visit