section 2


An analysis of the term United Nations Personnel as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada


2. In this Act, United Nations personnel means (a) persons who are engaged or deployed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as members of the military, police or civilian components of a United Nations operation, or (b) any other officials or experts who are on mission of the United Nations or one of its specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency and who are present in an official capacity in the area where a United Nations operation is conducted


Section 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the definition of the term united nations personnel. Within the Code are several offences that deal specifically with offences against united nations personnel, and create an expanded jurisdiction for Canada to prosecute these offences. Additionally, reference should be had to the Anti-Terrorism Act which sets out additional offences against same. Ultimately, the criminal conduct in question is the threats made against United Nations staff with the intent to influence the international organization's efficacy or behavior. With Canada as a nation highly involved in international activities, Canada has legislated its ability to prosecute offences made against the United Nations even if committed abroad. Canada is not, thus, beholden to the legislation or criminal justice systems of foreign jurisdictions when its citizens are involved with the United Nations.


The definition of United Nations Personnel as contained in the Criminal Code is identical to the definition contained in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. Notably, the Criminal Code provides expanded jurisdiction to deal with offences against United Nations Personnel as per section 7(3.71) which reads: "...notwithstanding anything in this Act or any other Act, every one who, outside Canada, commits an act or omission against a member of United Nations personnel or associated personnel or against property referred to in section 431.1 that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence against, a conspiracy or an attempt to commit an offence against, or being an accessory after the fact or counselling in relation to an offence against, section 235, 236, 266, 267, 268, 269, 269.1, 271, 272, 273, 279, 279.1, 424.1 or 431.1 is deemed to commit that act or omission in Canada..." Reference should be made to section 3.71 for further analysis of this expanded jurisdiction.


The Criminal Code sets out several offences that can be committed against United Nations Personnel. The key consideration is that there is expanded jurisdiction to prosecute these offences even if they did not occur on Canadian soil. The expanded jurisdiction includes offences committed while at sea, on an aircraft, or the perpetrator is a Canadian citizen or habitual resident of Canada, or enters Canada after the commission of the offence, or the United Nations Personnel in question is themselves a Canadian Citizen, or the act had was intented to influence the Canadian Government's actions. Further reference on this point should be made to section 7(3.71). Section 424.1 sets out that "...every person who, with intent to compel any person, group of persons, state or any international or intergovernmental organization to do or refrain from doing any act, threatens to commit an offence under section 235, 236, 266, 267, 268, 269, 269.1, 271, 272, 273, 279 or 279.1 against a member of United Nations personnel or associated personnel or threatens to commit an offence under section 431.1 is guilty..." Thus, threats against a person working for the United Nations is a specifically enumerated offence, and Canada has enlarged its jurisdiction to include situations where the perpetrator is abroad during the commission of the offence.



Does Canada have the jurisdiction to prosecute offences that have been committed abroad?


Generally, the Canadian criminal justice system is concerned with crimes committed on Canadian soil. However, there are select areas of the Criminal Code that expand Canada's jurisdiction to prosecute crimes that have been committed abroad. Section 7(3.71) of the Code does exactly this, in the context of crimes committed against United Nations Personnel. As many Canadians put themselves in peril in international jurisdictions by working for the United Nations, the government has expanded its jurisdiction such that it need not be beholden to the laws of foreign jurisdictions when its citizens are targeted. Practically, of course, this may present an enforcement problem. It is difficult to prosecute a foreign national unless they are apprehended by Canadian authorities. Regardless, the jurisdiction is there and via International co-operative treaties, situations may arise where prosecution of foreign nationals can occur. While not a case directly on point, reference may be had to the case of Ali Omar Ader, who was convicted of an extortion scheme that occurred on foreign soil, was lured back to Canada, prosecuted and given a fifteen year sentence.


The Anti-terrorism Act came into force on December 18, 2001 largely in response to the attacks of 9-11. The concept of crimes against United Nations Personnel as per the Code overlap with this piece of anti-terrorism legislation.
The accused was prosecuted in Canada for a crime committed in Somali, using section 7(3.1) of the Criminal Code which expands Canada's jurisdiction to prosecute offences committed abroad. While not directly on point, this case demonstrates the principle of expanded jurisdiction and exemplifies how the prosecution of a foreign national can occur.


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