Category Archives: International Criminal Law

One step forward, two steps back: the SCC, immigration & refugee law and discretion

The past decade has not been kind to migrants. The events of 9/11 added extra hurdles to immigration process as immigration authorities’ paranoia grew. Western countries’ hospitality is much colder as xenophobia increased fuelled by right wing political groups such as the Tea Party in the USA, the Front National in France or the Conservatives in Canada and the UK. In Canada, since the election of the conservative government of Prime Minister Harper, we have adopted a series of reforms in immigration and refugee law. The focused is now on so called “desirable” migrants, usually people with education and language proficiencies in English or French.[1] Inadmissibility rules continue to prohibit family from reuniting, disabled and sick migrants from settling, and otherwise qualified migrants with tenuous link to alleged terrorist groups from immigrating.[2] Parliament adopted the so called Balanced Refugee Reform Act in 2010 making it harder for refugees to seek protection in Canada.[3] Additionally, Refugees’ access to health care was cut by the federal government.[4] Many of those changes are being or will be challenged in court. Whether these challenges will succeed is hard to predict as the Supreme Court has tended to be deferential towards the government on immigration and refugee issues. Two cases handed down in the last two months may shed some light on what the future holds for refugee and immigration law.

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The International Rule of Law

On the 15th of November, I had the chance of assisting to a viewing of the Canadian documentary “Prosecutor”[1] with the said Prosecutor (Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the ICC)) at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. The documentary was interesting to watch; it outlined the determination and perseverance of Mr. Moreno-Ocampo and the inherent difficulties of being the chief prosecutor of an international court. I recommend it if you are interested in the ICC and international criminal justice.

What was even more interesting was the discussion that followed. One of the students in the audience asked what would be the Prosecutor’s next career move (Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s mandate is ending soon). He mentioned that he was very interested in educating the international relations crowd about the rule of law and international ethic. I found his answer particularly interesting because the notion of international ethic is something that has wondered inside my central nervous system for a while.

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