OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada is outraged by the government’s refusal to release the names of Canadian suspects under investigation for World War II war crimes.
The government said the time needed to collect the information we requested would be “unreasonable” as it would take around 1,285 days, or more than 3.5 years.
B’nai Brith received a letter in July from the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office explaining that our request would not be granted.
The issue concerns B’nai Brith’s Access to Information (FOI) request for the names of people who came to Canada after the Second World War and were subsequently investigated for their involvement in war crimes by the Deschenes Commissionbut whose names remain confidential.
“The idea that it would take 3.5 years to get documents on Nazi war criminals that Canada has known about for decades is deplorable,” said David Rosenfeld, a Matas Law Firm member and a lawyer assisting B’nai Brith on the matter. “This response further confirms the urgency of B’nai Brith’s request for access to these documents – to ensure that these documents are properly preserved and easily accessible to the public and to ensure the accountability of war criminals. Nazis who may have fled Canada, or who may still be in Canada and have escaped deportation and prosecution.
“It appears that the ATIP system is seriously flawed,” Rosenfeld added, “particularly with respect to historical research, preservation, and access to records vital to documenting Holocaust atrocities and actions taken, or no, to hold account responsible.”
“It is imperative to expedite these cases and quickly identify suspects while we still have a few living Holocaust victims who can act as witnesses,” said Sam Goldstein, Director of Legal Affairs at B’nai Brith Canada. . “If we are unable to obtain these documents quickly enough, we will consider joining the existing case this forces the National Archives to speed up response times.
In 1985, then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his government established the Commission of Inquiry into War Criminals in Canada, known as the “Deschenes Commission”, from the name of the head of the Commission, the judge of the Superior Court of Quebec Jules Deschenes.
The Commission compiled a list of 774 potential war criminals in Canada. A total of 341 of them never landed or resided in Canada, 21 had arrived in Canada but departed for another country, 86 had died in Canada and four could not be located. The Commission found prima facie evidence against 20 individuals. 169 other cases have not been followed up. In 1986, the Commission provided the names of the 20 individuals to the government with recommendations on how to proceed in each case.
Canadian prosecutors have filed charges against at least four men for alleged involvement in Holocaust war crimes. One case ended in an acquittal. Two cases were dropped when prosecutors struggled to obtain evidence overseas. The fourth case was suspended due to the defendant’s state of health.
Since 1998, courts have found that six men misrepresented their wartime activities and could have their citizenship revoked, although this was not done because the evidence was found to be circumstantial and insufficient. Seven other people facing deportation or citizenship revocation proceedings have died.
B’nai Brith Canada created the Matas Law Firm – Canada’s new hub for Jewish legal professionals and law students – to help counter rising anti-Semitism and defend human rights in Canada.