Senator Romeo Dallaire

Bill to amend Criminal Code Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth, for the second reading of Bill S-43, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings).—(Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.)

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I wish to —

Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): May I make a point? I understand that Senator Dallaire is the second speaker. I would like to reserve the 45 minutes as the second speaker for the official opposition, if I may.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Dallaire: I stand before you to pursue the debate on Bill S-43, to amend section 83.01 of the Criminal Code on suicide bombings, making it, per se, a criminal offence. The aim of this amendment to the Criminal Code is fundamentally to close a loophole in regard to one of the crimes against humanity that is becoming more and more current in this era. Furthermore, it is to reinforce our position in regard to continuing an assault on impunity: that is, impunity of those who continue to use the civilian population as targets in an attempt to change the situations in their country.

My particular interest in arguing or presenting arguments in support of this bill comes from my experience with the International Criminal Court. Through that court it has been my experience that much documentation is referred to when we attempt to bring to solution and bring to justice those who commit crimes against humanity. It is not just the act but so often also the documentation by which we can bring these individuals to justice that is the reference that we need to prosecute them and ultimately to create such an atmosphere where impunity is no longer acceptable. By doing these things, we reduce the possibilities of crimes against humanity that turn into humanitarian catastrophes that ultimately end not only in ethnic cleansing but go all the way to genocide.

We are in a new era of not security but insecurity. The era of the Cold War provided us with a certain balance of where we stood in regard to the possible threats to our nation. However, since the end of the Cold War, we have entered a new era of what one might even say is disorder, contrary to what George Bush Sr. said would be an era of order. In this era, the nature of conflict and also the threat to our security has radically changed. It is no more the classic warfare of grand armies on our four frontiers or in far-off lands to which we would participate in protecting our country. On the contrary, we find ourselves wrapped up in conflicts in which the sense of insecurity is now rendered even more intolerable by the fact that it is nearly impossible to identify or determine the threat. At least in the Cold War we knew who would press the button that would ultimately send us into oblivion under a nuclear threat. We knew their ethos. We knew their mantra of conviction. However, in this era, conflict has become exceptionally complex and ambiguous. It is not an era where it is clearly the good guys and the bad guys, an era of the white hats and the black hats.

We have entered an era of conflict where the general population in so many of these nations are the instruments of war, and conflict is being exported beyond those nations that are in conflict. Now, in this time frame, we have seen ourselves moving from what used to be interstate conflicts to intrastate conflicts, and where we find the expression of conflict in a variety of fashions and some of those fashions most ignoble and barbaric. We also find ourselves in an era where we use children as instruments of conflict. In the extreme, children are even used as suicide bombers. We are now in an era where the civilian population is no more on a side of the conflict where the militaries have gone at each other over the years. On the contrary, we are in an era where the civilian population is an instrument of the conflict and is used by those in conflict to influence the outcome.

Primary strategies used by extremists in this era are to instil horror and terror, using barbarism, and in so doing, create fear, and in fear, gain control. That control permits them to manoeuvre their populations and create intolerable consequences, mostly on the humanitarian side and certainly in the arena where human rights are totally abused, and we find ourselves in front of crimes against humanities in the ultimate abuse which leads us even to genocide.

The issues of suicide bombers, recruitment and indoctrination of those willing to carry out terrorist attacks, particularly important in the case of suicide terrorism, must be looked at and deterred. In 2004, Gareth Evans, a former Australian foreign minister and now head of the International Crisis Group, argued that suicide bombings are now the weapon of choice for terrorism. The Iran terrorism expert, Bruce Hoffman, has argued that the fundamental characteristics of suicide bombing and its strong attraction for the terrorist organizations behind it are universal. Suicide bombings are inexpensive and effective. They are less complicated and compromising than other kinds of terrorist operations. They guarantee media coverage. The suicide terrorist is the ultimate smart bomb. Perhaps most importantly, coldly efficient bombings tear at the fabric of trust that holds societies together. All these reasons doubtless account for the spread of suicide terrorism from the Middle East to Sri Lanka, Turkey, Argentina, Chechnya, Russia, Algeria, and now even to the United States in North America. Suicide bombing is the most fearful of all weapons. While physical defence measures and other cooperation are necessary in an attempt to neutralize the weapons of suicide terrorism, the real key is to realize that the bomber is only the last link in the long chain. Increased intelligence cooperation is necessary in an attempt to disrupt this chain, particularly focusing on those who recruit, train and prepare bombers.

The ultimate aim of this bill is to bring another tool of deterrence to those who might not only use that weapon but ultimately those who actually do use that weapon. More broadly, countries around the world must condemn all such attacks, whether suicide or not, that target innocent civilians and use political circumstances or religions to justify them.


Honourable senators will recall that, after 9/11, Pope John Paul II brought together the heads of the great religions of the world in January of 2002. They sat in Assisi, Italy, for two days and at the end of that one and only conference where the world's great religions were brought together, the Pope was able to extract the concluding statement from the leaders that no religion calls upon people to kill other human beings in the name of religion. It does not exist as a premise.

Honourable senators, all governments, publicly and through diplomatic channels, should refrain from any action that appears to encourage, support or endorse suicide bombings or other attacks against civilians, and should use all possible influence with the perpetrator groups to make them cease such attacks immediately and unconditionally. This is why this amendment is significant. It reinforces that even an attempt to conduct a suicide bombing is a criminal offence under this bill.

More basically, we must always address the root causes that make the recruitment of terrorism and such bombings easier. There is no doubt that terrorism is the expression of rage by the developing world and, despite the walls and instruments that we create in our defence, ultimately the best defence is not a defence around our areas of interest but, rather, by going aggressively to the source of this rage and, ultimately, eliminating it. One of the primary instruments for doing that is not only the application of justice but also the more forceful, useful and quantitative application of international development.

Honourable senators, I present the argument that there is no room for any permission or any possibility for someone to use the civilian population and its destruction as a tool to achieve his or her aims. We must use this bill to close the loophole that allows the possibility for this horrific weapon to continue to exist because it is becoming more and more popular.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Dallaire: Yes.

Senator Kinsella: My question speaks to the motivation of the suicide bomber and the propensity, as reported, of some community leaders to glorify suicide bombing as an activity. Honourable senators who were serving on the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism to review the anti-terrorism legislation were briefed on a new piece of legislation adopted by the House in Westminster about one week ago. Under their new law, the glorification of acts of terrorism, such as suicide bombing, is a criminal offence. Would the honourable senator agree that this should be considered for Canada?

Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, I deem it most innovative of that House to have moved in that direction. The whole idea behind it should be one of eliminating the doctrine that espouses the use of the civilian population as a tool of conflict in order to achieve political, or sometimes power, goals. Any instrument that could eradicate that doctrine would be good.

In the case of the doctrine that espouses the use of children as a tool in conflict, the goal is not to find the social and economic tools that would prevent children from being recruited but, rather, to eradicate those who so much as think of that doctrine in the first place.

Genocide is an instrument that has been used. The ultimate goal in that case is not to bring those who perpetrate it to justice but to eliminate the gestation of such a concept of genocide. In so doing, any such proactive tools to wrest that initiative from those who would use such horrific weapons should be endorsed and pursued.


Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I am a long-time friend and I have great respect for our retired general colleague Senator Dallaire. What is going on is so horrific. You have addressed the issue very well. I have yet to determine which of the two is worse: to glorify madness or utmost despair.

So, you would apply the same criteria, as a general, not as a senator, to places where the military, for example, would not hesitate to jeopardize civilians used as human shields by the enemy. We have examples. I chaired the Committee on National Defence for 15 years, under Mr. Trudeau. I have met chiefs of staff under previous governments who told me horrific stories where the enemy could be seen, but not the civilians in front of the enemy. The criteria we are discussing today also apply to what I just described.

Second, what lessons from your experience could be drawn from these kinds of blind bombings in Iraq, where, in attempting to hit a specific target, the civilian population ends up suffering the most? We know that more than 30,000 have died in Iraq. It is all hush-hush, of course. We know that it is a tragedy that will not heal. It is sad to say. Those who are familiar with that part of the world know that it can only get worse. I am sorry to say so, and you know I am.

I would appreciate your help in my personal reflection on how far one can go in being modern and saying that some things happened that cannot be condoned and others are taking place which are unacceptable, like the glorification of suicides, for instance. I totally agree with you on that.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senator, your time has expired. Perhaps Senator Dallaire could just give a short answer.

Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, it is rather difficult for a general who has a microphone to be brief, but now that he is a politician, it is almost impossible. As regards the nature of the conflict in which we find ourselves, I will take the example of General Patton, during the second world war. He stated that, as a principle, the objective is to make the other one die for his country. However, in the situation in which we find ourselves now, the other one, when dying for his country, often takes you with him, because suicide bombings are frequently used as weapons. We no longer have a scenario where the enemy is easily identifiable. The enemy is often integrated into the population. This is why a civil war is the worst possible scenario. In this context, the fundamental principle is that we have no authority to wilfully use the civilian population, the non-combatants, as instruments to achieve military goals or objectives of power. That is the fundamental humanitarian law.