COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
Committee considered the second periodic report of Canada (CAT/C/17/Add.5)
at its 139th and 140th meetings, on 20 April 1993 (see CAT/C/SR.139
representative of the reporting State introduced the report and indicated
that the preparation of the report had entailed close cooperation
between the federal, provincial and territorial governments and had
provided those governments with the opportunity to review the state
of implementation of the Convention within their respective areas
of competence. He also outlined the recent activities undertaken by
his Government in both international and domestic forums to counter
torture, excessive force and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
regard to initiatives taken at the international level, the representative
mentioned, in particular, his Government's support of efforts aimed
at providing for the operation and expenses of all human rights treaty
bodies, including those of the Committee against Torture, from the
United Nations regular budget. He also referred to the importance
his Government attached to the elaboration of an optional protocol
to the Convention against Torture. In addition, he spoke of the regular
contribution his Government made to the United Nations Voluntary Fund
for Victims of Torture.
initiatives at the domestic level, the representative referred to
measures being taken to improve general conditions of incarceration
for women, especially in meeting the needs of aboriginal women in
correctional settings. In this regard, he outlines the innovative
developments which had resulted from the recommendations of a recent
Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women.
representative also made reference to police reforms in Quebec, providing
details of the new Code of Ethics for Quebec police officers, adopted
on 1 September 1991, which had established duties and standards of
conduct for police officers in their relations with the public. Information
was also provided on two new bodies, namely the Commissioner for Police
Ethics and the Comité de déontologie policière, which had been created
to ensure respect for the standards prescribed in that Code.
the representative described recent developments in police force training
standards introduced in the province of Ontario. He further indicated
that the effectiveness, safety and success of those new measures were
being monitored carefully and that their use was expected to extend
to police agencies throughout Canada.
the representative made reference to the work of the Canadian Centre
for Victims of Torture and to various activities of the Centre for
which the Government provided funding.
of the Committee asked various questions of a general nature. They
asked what measures had been taken at the level of domestic law, prior
to the ratification of the Convention, to ensure its compatibility
with the provisions of the Convention. They also wished to receive
further details of the legal competence of the different levels of
government in the Canadian federal system in the application of the
provisions of the Convention, especially with regard to the jurisdiction
of judges, and of any difficulties the federal system had posed in
the compilation and provision of statistics on torture-related matters.
Further information was also sought on matters relating to the alleged
maltreatment of two immigrants of Chinese origin by the police authorities
in Vancouver and the ill-treatment of Mohawk Indians by Quebec police
forces in 1990, especially in relation to the outcome of those complaints
and the impartiality of any inquiries undertaken on those incidents.
to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested
clarification as to the application of different provisions of the
Criminal Code for the offence of torture, especially regarding the
effect of the inclusion of section 7 (3.71) of the Criminal Code,
which made war crimes and crimes against humanity a criminal offence.
293. In connection
with article 3 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested
further information on the action taken by the Government of Canada
to ensure compatibility with the provisions of that article, especially
on the issue of non-refoulement. In this connection they recalled
that persons who were refused entry or refugee status should not be
returned to countries where there was a risk that they might be subjected
to torture. Moreover, it was asked whether the Government of Canada
considered that extraditing a person to a country where he could face
the death penalty subjected that person to inhuman and degrading treatment.
articles 5 to 9 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished
to receive further information on the legislative measures taken to
provide judges in Canada with the competence of universal jurisdiction
on torture-related matters. They also wished to know more about the
application of mutual judicial assistance between Canada and other
States, especially with regard to the offence of torture, where no
bilateral agreement existed.
regard to article 10 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished
to know whether education on torture-related matters was being applied
restrictively or in the widest possible manner and in this connection
they wished to know of any special training on torture-related matters
being given to the military and border police, and to all medical
personnel in Canada.
296. In connection
with articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, members of the Committee
requested further information on the procedures available to individuals
to initiate charges and proceedings against ill-treatment or abuse
of power committed by police authorities. In particular, they sought
information on the work of the Public Complaints Commission, the Commissioner
for Police Ethics and the Comité de déontologie policière.
article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee sought further
information not only on the possibilities available for the rehabilitation
and treatment of torture victims but also on the remedies and compensation
available to victims of ill-treatment even in cases where the alleged
perpetrator had been acquitted.
regard to article 16 of the Convention, attention was drawn to acts
which constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and to the
seeming association between society's tolerance of physical chastisement
in the home environment and the acceptance of violence. In this connection,
it was asked whether corporal punishment of children by parents was
practised in Canada and what was the legal basis for that practice.
to the questions of a general nature, the representative of the reporting
State informed the Committee of the changes that had been made to
Canadian law prior to the Convention's ratification so as to ensure
its compliance with specific provisions of the Convention. The representative
also provided information and explanations with regard to the division
of legislative powers under the federal structure of Canada. He stated
that collection of statistical information on matters related to the
Convention was complicated by the division of powers in Canada. Consultations
with relevant government departments responsible for collecting such
data would be held and more information of that nature would be included
in the next report. Furthermore, with regard to the alleged ill-treatment
of two persons in Vancouver, the representative indicated that the
Committee would be provided with an updated report on the findings
of the independent commission appointed by the Province of British
Columbia to inquire into municipal policing. He also informed the
Committee that the independent Public Complaints Commission had already
carried out an investigation and that the two persons in question
had apparently instituted proceedings against the officers concerned.
In connection with the allegations of ill-treatment of Mohawk Indians
by Quebec police forces in 1990, the representative stated that four
of the cases had been raised before 1 September 1990 and had thus
been considered under the former system through submission to the
Complaints Committee of Quebec's Department of Public Security, which
had rejected the cases on various grounds. However, the Committee's
decisions were subject to appeal. Under the new provisions on police
conduct in Quebec all complaints would be considered in the first
instance by the Commissioner for Police Ethics. This had happened
in one case which had occurred after 1 September 1990 and, as a result
of the inquiry by the Commissioner, certain police officers had been
brought before the Comité de déontologie policière, which would decide
on the matter in the autumn of 1993.
article 2 of the Convention, the representative explained that the
Criminal Code contained not only the offence of torture but also war
crimes and crimes against humanity and that, while crimes against
humanity could well include torture, such crimes also demanded that
other conditions be met, for example, that the offending act had been
committed against a civilian population or identifiable group of persons.
Where an accused was charged with conduct which fulfilled the definition
of both sections, the accused could be convicted of only one offence.
Moreover, the defence of obedience to de facto authority was not available
to an individual charged with a war crime or a crime against humanity.
regard to article 3 of the Convention, the representative told the
Committee that Canada's refugee determination system fully complied
with the Convention's requirements relating to torture allegations.
In this connection, he described the training given to immigration
officers, which had been developed with the assistance of the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and
the various provisions and procedures available to individuals to
make a claim for refugee status. He also indicated that the success
rate for refugee claimants in Canada had been recognized by UNHCR
as the highest in the world and that the refugee determination system
would be kept under continuous review to maintain its high standards.
With regard to the concern raised that a person might be extradited
to face the death penalty the representative referred to various debates
on the issue in the Human Rights Committee and in the Supreme Court
302. In connection
with article 5 of the Convention, the representative explained that,
in the Canadian Criminal Code, the offence of torture was subject
to universal jurisdiction. Thus, any judge, whether provincial or
federal, who had the authority to hear criminal trials could rely
on the universal jurisdiction of that Code.
articles 8 and 9 of the Convention, the representative indicated that
Canada could cooperate with another country in accordance with those
articles regardless of whether bilateral treaties on mutual legal
assistance existed. As an example of how the procedure of mutual legal
assistance was applied in practice, information was given on the assistance
given by Canada at the request of Chile in connection with a torture-related
regard to article 10 of the Convention, the representative informed
the Committee of the training on the Convention and other related
matters given to various public officials, including members of the
correctional service and recruits for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Canadian armed forces called upon to assist civil authorities during
a riot or disturbance in Canada or participating in United Nations
peace-keeping and humanitarian operations outside Canada received
specific training in, inter alia, the use of minimum force.
The representative also indicated that he was unaware of specific
training given to medical doctors on the detection of torture and
more information on that subject would be sought.
305. In connection
with articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, the representative outlined
the procedures available to an individual alleging torture by the
police, which included personal prosecution of the offence. Such actions
may be brought by the individual under the provisions of the Criminal
Code or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or through the
filing of a complaint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Moreover,
civil redress may be sought under the Crown Liability Act or at common
law. Since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Public Complaints Commission
had become operational in 1988 it had held 12 hearings, 5 of which
had concerned excessive force.
regard to article 14 of the Convention, the representative outlined
several aspects of compensation arrangements in Canada for criminal
injuries following a police investigation. He indicated, for example,
that compensation might be provided in the case of an accused person
acquitted on the merits of a charge or in the case of an acquittal
on technical grounds. Such compensation provisions stemmed from special
funds established by the Government. Equally, an injured party might
seek compensation or other remedies through the courts, even if the
offender was a government official.
article 16 of the Convention, the representative informed the Committee
of the statement by the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Regina
V. Smith, that there were certain punishments which would always offend
the protection against cruel and unusual punishment in section 12
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that included corporal
punishment. Furthermore, the Federal Government was re-examining a
provision of the Criminal Code which permitted reasonable force by
a parent or schoolteacher in the correction of a child.
Conclusions and recommendations
Committee expressed its appreciation to the Government of Canada,
not only for its comprehensive report but also for the measures and
efforts undertaken by the Canadian authorities in compliance with
the provisions of the Convention.
Committee also expressed its thanks for the excellent presentation
by the Canadian delegation and in this regard noted with satisfaction
the various clarifications provided by the delegation in response
to the questions raised by members of the Committee during its examination
of the State party's report.
the Committee expected to be provided with further details on the
training of health personnel and the outcome of the inquiries conducted
by the Canadian authorities relating to two immigrants of Chinese
origin, in addition to the statistics requested by the Committee.