Rachidi Ezokola worked for eight years for the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, four of them as a UN diplomat. He moved to Montreal in 2008 with his wife and eight children and asked for refugee status, claiming that he had received death threats from Congolese intelligence agents. His application was denied by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, which found him complicit by association with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Supreme Court of Canada clarified the test that the Board should use to determine if an individual should be excluded from the definition of refugees. It stated that in keeping with the principles of criminal law and the UN’s Refugee Convention, the contribution-based test for complicity is one that requires a voluntary, knowing and significant contribution to the crime or criminal purpose of a group. It wrote “…a concept of complicity that leaves any room for guilt by association or passive acquiescence violates two fundamental criminal law principles: the principle that criminal liability does not attach itself to omissions unless an individual is under a duty to act, and the principle that individuals can only be liable for their own culpable conduct. The Court referred the case back to the Board for a re-hearing.
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About Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell is the former Editor and Legal Writer for LawNow at the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.