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 PostedTuesday, February 23, 1999

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February 23, 1999

Letters Desk


Pursuing Johann Dueck


THE STORY of Johann Dueck is a sobering tale. It testifies to the time-sensitive nature of justice, but it also shows how political expediency can undermine individual rights.

In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada observed that so much time had passed since the Second World War that many war-crimes cases were bound to fail due to the fragility of evidence. Long delays afflict both the prosecution and defence in arguing cases based on vague memories, lost documents and deceased witnesses.

In response, then justice minister Allan Rock changed tack in pursuing alleged former Nazis and collaboraters. Canada would use denaturalization and deportation as weapons against most accused people, a process that requires much weaker proof of fraudulently entering Canada and that permits no legal appeal. It was with this blunt tool that Ottawa charged Mr. Dueck, a resident of St. Catharines, and sought his deportation.

In the end, the government's evidence that Mr. Dueck helped Nazi police in Ukraine kill civilians suffered all the faults of time long passed in Communist countries. He was clearly innocent of the charges, but had endured a legal and personal nightmare.

If justice delayed is justice denied, 57 years later halfway around the world denies a great deal of justice, indeed. Is further lowering the hurdle because the evidence is weak the act of an admirable state?

Our opinion
 WE repeat: It is astonishing that Canada's staid national newspaper should publish such an outspoken editorial. We are tempted to open a dossier for such items, labelled: "The global origins of anti-Semitism."


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© Focal Point 1999 e-mail:  write to David Irving