Following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, a group of Canadian attorneys has officially asked that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate the Vatican and the Canadian government for crimes against humanity. If the inquiry continues, it might result in the prosecution of Catholic Church and Government of Canada personnel and agents who were engaged in either the establishment of the residential school or the subsequent cover-up of the events that occurred.
According to the ICC’s definition of crimes against humanity, these include murder, extermination, forced population transfer, rape, severe deprivation of bodily liberty, and other inhumane actions. The ICC has the authority to force parties to produce all documents relevant to the inquiry but prosecutes only in circumstances where the nation is incapable or unwilling to conduct an inquiry. The Parliament conducted an extraordinary session to consider funding more investigations and searches at the remaining locations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Canadian government must acknowledge the truth and that residential schools were “a tragedy that occurred here, in our nation, and we must accept responsibility for it.” Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said that the government was open to legalizing residential school sites and criminalizing tampering with or destroying relevant evidence.
The allegations come as the federal government is now engaged in a legal battle to prevent survivors of residential schools from receiving compensation. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) expressed “profound sadness” for the “heartbreaking death of children from the old Kamloops Residential School” in a statement, although the Pope has yet to apologize.