This case was brought to Canada in February 2018 because documents obtained through Access to Information show that the Canadian Embassy in Mexico supported Blackfire extensively and stands accused of being implicated in Abarca’s death. Canadian and Mexican organisations have asked the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC) to investigate the acts and omissions of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico that they believe contributed to putting Mr. Abarca’s life in danger. He refused, arguing that the policies cited in the complaint are not “official Government of Canada policies.” In response, we sought a judicial review. The case was taken to the Federal Court of Appeal on November 8, 2021. and a hearing has been announced for Monday November 8 at 9:30am.
Three Canadian organizations made written submissions and made oral arguments during the Federal Court of Appeal hearing. Amnesty International Canada focused on how Canada’s international human rights obligations should be taken into consideration when evaluating how reasonable the Commissioner’s decision was to refuse an investigation. They argued that Canada must provide victims of serious human rights violations with effective remedy and that Canada has a duty to investigate such harms, such as through the Commissioner’s office. Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights and the Allard International Justice and Human Rights Clinic also pointed to Canada’s international human rights obligations when they submitted that integrity in Canada’s public service requires “[investigating], wrongdoing not only at home, but also abroad. Such integrity cannot ignore pervasive disregard for international human rights, often by transnational corporate activity originating in the global north.” Finally, the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University, a recognized specialist on the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the Commissioner’s office, focused on the overall spirit of the act to “maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of public servants,” which “is essential to the protection and promotion of Canadian parliamentary democracy itself.”
Despite impressive submissions and well-founded legal arguments, the Federal Court of Appeal similarly failed to order an investigation into the actions of the Canadian Embassy. Finally, the Abarca family legal counsel filed a request for leave to appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, which was also denied on January 12, 2023. They are now turning to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for action.