MONTREAL (Dec. 14)
The Deschenes Commission, in its report to be submitted to the government before the end of the year, is expected to recommend a series of sweeping measures to track down and deal with Nazi war criminals living in Canada, including amendment of the Criminal Code to allow them to be tried in Canadian courts, official sources disclosed here over the weekend.
The one-man Commission, headed by Quebec Superior Court Justice Jules Deschenes, was established in February 1985 to determine how many Nazi war criminals live in Canada, how they got here and what can be done to bring them to justice.
According to the sources, the Commission will recommend judicial action against about a dozen identified war crimes suspects and further investigation by the government of about 50 other possible suspects.
It will call for extradition treaties with Israel and the Soviet Union to allow for deportation in certain cases and will also suggest that Canada adopt the approach of the United States which in 1979 set up the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) as an agency of the Justice Department to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals, the sources said.
STRONG REACTIONS AGAINST THE PROPOSAL
Spokespersons for Canada’s large Eastern European communities have already reacted strongly against this expected proposal, warning that it would be a “political nightmare” for any government. The Jewish community, on the other hand, has urged the creation of such a body.
Deschenes, who will submit his report to the Cabinet, could not confirm whether portions will be made public. He said, however, “The public has a right to know what this Commission of Inquiry has been concerned with. I think the public is entitled to know how many suspected war criminals there were, if any, and if so, what is the position of each one of them.”
He said the cost of the Commission’s 22-month inquiry was about $3 million (Canadian). The government, however, is not obliged to accept all or any of its recommendations which could be politically sensitive.
The Commission has been criticized from its inception by the Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Estonian and other Eastern European communities. Their pressure may have been instrumental in preventing Deschenes from sending legal aides to the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries to gather evidence against suspected war criminals.
Strong objections were raised on grounds that evidence from Communist sources would be tainted, even though the Commission insisted it would be scrutinized according to Canadian rules of evidence.