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ICRC Privilege in Canada


This article explores whether the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) enjoys testimonial privilege before Canadian courts. The authors argue that there is strong evidence to suggest that customary international law requires that the ICRC be granted a privilege not to testify or disclose confidential information in domestic court proceedings. Such a privilege, they argue, is entailed by the ICRC’s mandate to engage in international humanitarian law protection activities using confidential means. Given that customary international law forms part of the common law in Canada, the authors argue that this privilege should be recognized by Canadian courts despite its potentially uneasy fit with traditional Canadian evidence law.


Cet article cherche à savoir si le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) bénéficie d’un privilège de ne pas témoigner devant les tribunaux canadiens. Les auteurs font valoir qu’il existe de fortes raisons de croire que le droit international coutumier exige que le CICR soit accordé un privilège ni de témoigner ni de divulguer des informations confidentielles devant les instances nationales. Un tel privilège, affirment-ils, découle du mandat du CICR de se livrer à des activités de protection, en vertu du droit international humanitaire, à l’aide de moyens confidentiels. Étant donné que le droit international coutumier fait partie de la common law au Canada, les auteurs affirment que ce privilège devrait être reconnu par les tribunaux canadiens en dépit du fait qu’il soit potentiellement mal-adapté au droit canadien de la preuve existant.

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Phillip M Saunders , “Canada” in August Reinisch , ed, The Privileges and Immunities of International Organizations in Domestic Courts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) 73 at 74–75.

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Canadian Yearbook of International Law/Annuaire canadien de droit international
  • ISSN: 0069-0058
  • EISSN: 1925-0169
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-yearbook-of-international-law-annuaire-canadien-de-droit-international
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