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War criminals: Communities divided

They committed acts of immense brutality and terror in their own countries. And then, seeking safe haven, they came to Canada. Not knowing their secret, we welcomed them with open arms. Decades later, shocking accusations would shatter the quiet obscurity in which they lived. CBC Archives examines Canada's limited success bringing war criminals to justice.

Edith Kimmelman remembers burying her parents and then hiding in the fields and forests of Ukraine. At night, she slept in haystacks to evade the Ukrainians during the Second World War. The Deschênes Commission has released its report this week and old memories are surfacing. Members of the Jewish community, whose wounds have never healed, hope the commission will at long last bring some closure. But, some Ukrainians say that this is a witch hunt and their community is being unfairly accused, as told in this CBC Radio documentary. 
• The Deschênes report investigated 883 people suspected of being war criminals or Nazi collaborators. Of this total, the commission recommended that 606 cases be closed because of lack of evidence. The commission found prima facie evidence, in other words a presumption of fact of their involvement, in 20 cases. The names of these suspects were not made available to the public.

• The commission recommended altering the Criminal Code and Extradition Act to facilitate the expulsion and imprisonment of war criminals in Canada.

• On Sept. 16, 1987, Bill 71 received Royal Assent. The bill amended the 1976 Immigration Act rendering "inadmissible to Canada persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe have committed or were complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity." The bill also amended the Criminal Code by allowing Canada retroactive jurisdiction over crimes against humanity and war crimes committed outside Canada.

• In 1987, the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Department of Justice was created. Its mandate was to carry out investigations of suspects in Canada.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: March 15, 1987
Guests: Wasyly Fadek, Edith Kimmelman, Jon Konheim, Peter Manastyrsky, Walter Marko, Joe Wilder
Host: Linden MacIntyre
Reporter: David McLauchlin
Duration: 17:01

Last updated: July 19, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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