On Wednesday, June 12th, York University will confer an honourary Doctor of Laws degree on Nasrin Sotoudeh, the imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer now in her third year of imprisonment -- much of which has been spent in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison.
Irwin Cotler est l'ancien député de Mont-Royal, où il a d’abord été élu lors d’une élection complémentaire, en novembre 1999. Il fut ministre de la Justice et procureur général du Canada de 2003 à 2006. Le professeur Cotler a siégé aux comités des cabinets suivants : affaires autochtones; affaires intérieures; affaires internationales; relations Canada-États-Unis; sécurité, santé publique et protection civile. Irwin Cotler est actuellement conseiller juridique international auprès du blogueur saoudien Raif Badawi. Il a récemment fondé le Centre Raoul Wallenberg pour les droits de l'homme.
This week, parliamentarians in Canada and the United States have been focusing attention on the dangers posed by the Iranian government. Central to this week's events is the launch of the Iranian Political Prisoners Global Advocacy Project, through which Canadian parliamentarians of all political stripes will "adopt" Iranian prisoners of conscience and advocate on their behalf. I will be advocating on behalf of Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well the seven imprisoned leaders of the Iranian Baha'i community. As a lawyer, Ms. Sotoudeh represented political prisoners until she was arrested herself.
05/31/2013 08:00 EDT
In 2004, an Abu Dhabi court tried Dr. Karabus in absentia and convicted him of both fraud and manslaughter, but he was never notified of the trial or of the judgment. When he landed in Dubai last year he was jailed. This case is not just about this doctor, but any country whose citizens work or travel in the U.A.E.
04/23/2013 08:06 EDT
As opposed to viewing the Charter as a hindrance to its legislative agenda, the government should embrace the Charter -- as have lawyers, judges, academics, and even the majority of Canadians according to public opinion polls. We should be promoting and protecting those values the document enshrines.
04/17/2013 08:27 EDT
In this 65th anniversary year of the Genocide Convention, the international community must bear in mind -- again, as the jurisprudence from the Rwandan genocide, including the Mugasera case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada reminds us -- that incitement to genocide is a crime in and of itself. Taking action to prevent it, as the Genocide Convention mandates us to do, is not a policy option; it is an international legal obligation of the highest order. The answer is that the international community will only prevent the killing fields of the future by heeding the lessons from past tragedies. What, then, are these lessons, and, as Annan asks, what can we do?
04/12/2013 12:15 EDT
As we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah -- defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide -- we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews, and millions of non-Jews, is not a matter of abstract statistics. For unto each person there is a name, an identity; each person is a universe. As our sages tell us, "whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe." Conversely, whoever has killed a person, it is as if they have killed an entire universe. Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself.
04/07/2013 11:10 EDT
Today Russia's prosecutors resume their efforts to convict a dead whistleblower of the very corruption he exposed. The posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky has properly been called "grim comedy" by a group of French legislators, and it is only the most recent element of the Russian government's strategy to cover up fraud, theft, and human rights violations committed by its own high-ranking officials.
03/22/2013 12:35 EDT
With Xi Jinping assuming the Presidency of China, some have expressed hope that his tenure will bring reform and change, particularly in the promotion and protection of human rights. At the same time, China's most recent Nobel Peace Prize winter -- Liu Xiaobo -- languishes in prison, and has yet to receive the prize awarded to him two years ago. If Canada's relationship with China focuses primarily on ensuring an economic upside -- indeed, if we ignore the Chinese government's gross violations of human rights for economic "net benefit" -- we thereby acquiesce to the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, and others who have sacrificed not just their livelihood, but their freedom, for the sake of human rights.
03/22/2013 05:29 EDT
Wednesday night the House of Commons passed C-279, a bill that provides human rights protections to transgender Canadians. Since its introduction over a year ago, critics have reduced it to the "Bathroom Bill", a distorted characterization of what is truly important domestic human rights legislation. This legislation not only carries great symbolic value, but would also produce three substantive and practical effects to help reduce the frequency of discrimination and violence against transgendered Canadians. Moreover, there is precedent for the use of the term "gender identity" in Canadian provincial as well as international contexts.
03/21/2013 12:23 EDT
Section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act used to be little known outside constitutional law circles, but it has recently received significant attention both in Parliament and in the media. This is a welcome development because it is this provision that requires the Government to vet its legislation for consistency with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
03/05/2013 05:27 EST
Nasrin Sotoudeh's courageous human rights advocacy has highlighted and exposed the brutality of Ahmadinejad's Iran. Indeed, Iran has jailed more than fifty of its lawyers, and Nasrin was a courageous lawyer for political prisoners until becoming one herself.
03/03/2013 10:10 EST
Friday the House began debating C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act. From the Prime Minister's recent announcement of the legislation, one could easily get the impression that Canada is overrun with dangerous psychopaths and that Canadians should be fearful. Yet, the available evidence indicates that very few mentally ill people commit violent acts, even fewer are found not criminally responsible (NCR), and only a miniscule percentage of those found not criminally responsible (NCR) reoffend after treatment. Indeed, while high-profile cases of horrific acts have attracted much media attention, the reality is that these cases are exceptionally rare.
03/01/2013 12:22 EST
January 17 was Raoul Wallenberg Commemorative Day. He was a Swedish diplomat who saved some 100,000 Jews in six months in 1944 Hungary, more than any single government or organization, who demonstrated that one person with the courage to care, and the commitment to act can confront evil and transform history.
01/29/2013 08:15 EST
Governments around the world -- along with the United Nations and other international bodies -- were quick to respond to North Korea's recent rocket launch with warranted condemnation and concern about the country's nuclear weapons program. It is regrettable, however, that while rocket launches make headlines, the deplorable state of human rights under the Kim dynasty receives relatively little attention.
12/20/2012 03:49 EST
Today, the Canadian Parliament will hear testimony concerning the torture and tragic death in detention of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest corporate tax fraud in Russian history, identified the senior Russian perpetrators, and paid for it with his life. One might wonder: What is the Canadian connection to all this?
12/10/2012 05:24 EST
On Thursday, the House continues its debate on Bill C-37 -- the "victim surcharge bill" -- government legislation that doubles the amount of the victim surcharge -- money collected from convicted offenders to support victims of crime. Simply put, there is no evidence that the federal victim surcharge either deters crime as is, or that its doubling will do so.
12/06/2012 12:24 EST
In introducing Bill C-43 -- the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act -- the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration offered several justifications for this legislation, which on first impression, appear warranted. But the very title of the legislation suggests that Canada is overrun with foreign terrorists, escaped convicts, war criminals and the like. That's only the tip of the iceberg for this highly problematic piece of legislation.
10/23/2012 12:20 EDT
The recent repatriation of Omar Khadr has demonstrated yet again that serious concerns remain about Canada's approach when its citizens are detained abroad. The rights of too many Canadians have been or continue to be violated in foreign countries, and Canadian governments have regrettably been inconsistent defenders of those rights. The Conservative record on Canadians detained abroad is deeply troubling, and it constitutes the aggravation of a problem that has existed for too long, under Liberal governments as well.
10/18/2012 08:30 EDT
This coming week, Parliament will vote on my amendments to Bill C-299, Conservative legislation that would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years on people who kidnap children. It would seem as though this would be just the kind of issue on which members of all parties could collaborate in good faith. Instead, however, this bill has become a prime example of how excessive haste -- and an uncooperative attitude toward parliamentary opposition -- can make for bad law and bad policy. It should be deeply troubling to Canadians that the laws governing our criminal justice system are being altered quite so nonchalantly. Surely, despite our differences on principle and policy we can at least agree that any proposed changes to the Criminal Code should be the object of serious scrutiny and debate.
10/11/2012 08:14 EDT
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York to address the UN General Assembly it will be a cruel parody of law and justice that will put us on the wrong side of history. Simply put, this charade ignores and undermines basic principles of domestic, international, and humanitarian law. Ahmadinejad will enter the U.S. despite being inadmissible under American law. He will address the United Nations General Assembly despite being in violation of its UN Charter and international law. And, he will be indulged by universities, institutes, and the media, thereby sanitizing his crimes and mocking the suffering of the Iranian people.
09/24/2012 12:03 EDT
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