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This enactment amends the Federal Courts Act to provide for the jurisdiction of the Federal Court over civil claims brought by non-Canadians in respect of alleged violations outside Canada of international law or a treaty to which Canada is party.
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Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, set a benchmark for human dignity to be observed around the world;
Whereas, since the adoption of the Declaration, the United Nations has struggled to move states towards full realization of the internationally recognized human, labour and environmental rights that they resolved to respect;
Whereas recent history has been marked by serious failures to respect human, labour and environmental rights;
Whereas many nations that recognize human, labour and environmental rights have not created effective legal frameworks for the enforcement of those rights against corporations and individuals within their jurisdiction;
Whereas the International Commission of Jurists has recommended that domestic courts around the world play a greater role in addressing human rights violations and providing victims with access to damages;
Whereas Canada, having a long history as a defender of human rights and freedoms, is committed to removing the barriers that prevent those who violate human, labour and environmental rights from being held accountable;
And whereas Canada is committed to upholding the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognizes that the Federal Court must be given jurisdiction over civil claims brought in respect of alleged human rights violations committed outside Canada;
R.S., c. F-7; 2002, c. 8, s. 14
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
1 The Federal Courts Act is amended by adding the following after section 25:
Jurisdiction — acts or omissions outside Canada
25.1 (1) The Federal Court has original jurisdiction in every case of a civil nature in which a claim for relief is made or a remedy is sought in respect of an act or omission that occurred in a foreign state or territory or on board a ship or an aircraft registered in a foreign state or territory while the ship or aircraft was outside Canada if the act or omission arises from a violation of international law or a treaty to which Canada is party and the person who makes the claim or seeks the remedy was not a Canadian citizen at the time the act or omission in question occurred.
Nature of claims
(2) The cases in which the Federal Court has original jurisdiction under subsection (1) include those involving claims in respect of any of the following:
(b) a war crime or a crime against humanity;
(c) slavery or slave trading;
(d) an extrajudicial killing or the enforced disappearance of a person;
(e) torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment;
(f) prolonged arbitrary detention;
(g) systemic discrimination on the grounds of race, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, marital or family status, mental or physical disability, or on any other analogous ground;
(h) a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;
(i) the inducement or coercion of a person less than 18 years of age to engage in prostitution or any other sexual activity, including for the purposes of creating, distributing, printing, publishing or displaying pornographic materials;
(j) the sale or trafficking of a person less than 18 years of age;
(k) the conscription or enlistment of a person less than 18 years of age in an armed force or a paramilitary group for engagement in any form of warfare;
(l) rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(m) the subjection of a person to physical mutilation or to a medical or scientific experiment of any kind that is not carried out in the person’s best interest and that causes death to, or seriously endangers the health of, the person;
(n) wanton destruction of the environment that directly or indirectly initiates widespread, long-term or severe damage to an ecosystem, a natural habitat or a population of species in its natural surroundings;
(o) transboundary pollution that directly or indirectly brings about significant harm to persons living in a state or territory that is adjacent to the state or territory in which the pollution originates;
(p) the failure of a person or a government agency with direct knowledge of an impending environmental emergency to immediately alert any person whose life, health or property is seriously threatened by the environmental emergency;
(q) a violation of any of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization.
(3) In subsection (2), crime against humanity, genocide and war crime have the same meaning as in subsection 6(3) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
2 Section 39 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Section 25.1 — no limitation or prescription period
(3) Despite any other provision of this Act or any other Act of Parliament, no limitation or prescription period applies in respect of a case in which the Federal Court has jurisdiction under section 25.1.
3 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 50:
Section 25.1 — stay of proceedings
50.01 Despite any other provision of this Act or any other Act of Parliament, the Federal Court of Appeal or the Federal Court shall not stay proceedings in any cause or matter in respect of a case referred to in section 25.1 unless the defendant establishes to the satisfaction of the Court that
(a) the Federal Court of Appeal or the Federal Court, as the case may be, is not a suitable forum in which to decide the case;
(b) a more appropriate forum is available that is likely to conduct a fair hearing and provide a final and binding decision in a just and timely manner; and
(c) the stay is necessary in the interest of justice.
Published under authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons