Sikhs For Justice

Sikhs For Justice

April 09, 2015 11:22 ET

Sikh Rights Group Seeks Prosecution of Indian Prime Minister Modi in Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 9, 2015) - Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has filed a complaint with the Attorney General of Canada requesting criminal proceedings against the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, for the offences of torture and genocide under Canadian law.

Canadian law provides for the prosecution of individuals who commit acts of official torture outside of Canada where, after the commission thereof, they are present in Canada. Filed with the Honorable Peter MacKay, the complaint alleges that in February-March 2002, Modi aided, abetted and counselled in relation to the massacre of thousands of Muslims in the state of Gujarat, while he was the chief minister.

Modi's Offences and Canadian Law

The 16-page Memorandum of Law (MoL), drafted by lawyers Marlys Edwardh and Louis Century on behalf of human rights advocacy group, sets out the factual and legal basis for charges against Modi. The complainant urges the Attorney General to bring charges, or to consent to charges being brought, against Modi for aiding, abetting and counselling torture in violation of section 269.1 of the Criminal Code.

The MoL also urges the Attorney General to bring charges against Modi for counseling genocide in violation of section 6 of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act which also provides for extra territorial jurisdiction.

Edwardh said, "a senior member of the Indian bar, appointed by the Supreme Court of India as amicus curiae to investigate Modi's role in the violence, concluded that there were sufficient grounds on which to proceed. Translated into Canadian law, there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Modi engaged in these crimes. This is sufficient to call for his arrest so that he can stand his trial. Only by taking this step will Canada's commitment to ending impunity for torture and genocide be realized."

No Immunity For Rights Violations

State immunity does not prevent Canadian authorities from charging and trying Modi for torture, and in the group's view, genocide as well. In Kazemi Estate v. Islamic Republic of Iran, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the prohibition against torture is a peremptory norm of international law and that it is non-derogable by any state. Canada's criminal law grants universal jurisdiction over official torture when the person who committed the acts of torture is present in Canada.

"Since Modi continues to enjoy impunity in India we are invoking the Canadian law to hold him accountable for gross human rights violations. Unlike India, Canada does not let violence against religious minorities go unpunished," stated Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice.

"Threat to religious minorities of India has increased since Hindu nationalists took over the government of the country. We will pursue the international avenues to ensure their safe existence," added Pannun.

Opposition to Modi's visit to Kanishka Memorial

While in Toronto, Modi will visit the Kanishka (Air India) Memorial Site (Apr. 15). The Sikhs rights group says this is a blatant attempt to plant in the minds of Canadians that all Sikhs are extremists or terrorists.

"We will always mourn for the victims of the Air India bombings, which included Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Sikh families," said Jatinder Singh Grewal, SFJ's Director of International Policy. "We object to the memorial being turned into a political circus.

"Some have taken to calling Modi a rock star because of his charm and willingness to do business. Let's remember, however, that we banned this man from Canada for 12 years for a reason."

"Given Modi's despicable track record of gross human rights violations, the Indian PM's visit to this memorial site is nothing but a dishonor to the victims of violence," added Pannun.

"Punjab Referendum Petition" to PM Harper

Sikhs for Justice has also petitioned Prime Minister Stephen Harper to press Modi to recognize Sikhs' right to self-determination and desire to hold a referendum. More than 10,000 signatures are on the petition addressed to the Canadian prime minister.

"To be clear, we believe people living in the Punjab should have the right to hold a referendum on whether to create an independent Sikh country called Khalistan," said Grewal.

During his November 2012 visit to India, Prime Minister Harper stated that merely advocating for a Khalistan homeland in the Punjab is not a crime and violence through terrorism cannot be confused with the right of Canadians to hold and promote their political views.

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