‘It took this catastrophe to shame people into action – the time for gestures has passed,’ says the lawyer. Following preliminary reports that the remains of an estimated 215 children were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, more than a dozen lawyers from across Canada have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Canadian government and the Vatican for crimes against humanity.
The request was presented to the ICC’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan by a group of fifteen lawyers led by a Calgary attorney. According to Calgary lawyer Brendan Miller, the probe might lead to the prosecution of “workers, agents, and actors” of the Catholic Church and the Government of Canada who were involved in the development and/or coverup of the burial grounds.
“These children’s names are unknown to us. They were supposed to be wiped out “Miller remarked. “It took this event to motivate people to act – the time for gestures is past.” The International Criminal Court (ICC), which only prosecutes cases when governments refuse or are unable to do so, has the authority to force all parties concerned to produce any documents and information pertinent to the investigation. The lawyers claim that the killings, burials, and abuse of children under government and church care are evidence of crimes against humanity, and they want the International Criminal Court to “do whatever it takes to unearth the facts.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is based in The Hague and has jurisdiction over four types of crimes, one of which is crimes against humanity, defined as “severe violations committed as part of a large-scale attack against any civilian population.” Included in the 15 types of crimes against humanity are murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, and enslavement – particularly of women and children.