[JURIST] Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan [official profile] on Tuesday announced [press release] the introduction of legislation [C-35 text; materials] to the House of Commons that would allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators in Canadian courts. The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act [Public Safety backgrounder] would allow any individuals who can prove a link between an act of terrorism and Canada to sue in a Canadian court, stripping immunity from foreign states that can be proven to support terrorism. If passed, the law would be retroactive to 1985 [UPI report], meaning Canadian victims of the 1985 Air India passenger jet bombing [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] over the Atlantic Ocean could seek damages.
Van Loan said:
The Government of Canada is committed to fighting terrorism and to holding the perpetrators and supporters of terrorism accountable for their actions. With this Bill, we are showing leadership against terrorism. And we are providing a means for victims to seek justice against the individuals, organizations and foreign states that support terrorism.The Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT) [advocacy website] has long called for a bill like the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, and has had a proposal [text, PDF] prepared since January 2008. Some legal experts in Canada have questioned [CBC report] both the diplomatic effects and the feasibility of such a law, noting that terrorist organizations are unlikely to either care about civil suits or appear in Canadian courts to defend themselves.