Lifting the Veil on Corporate Terrorism: The Use of the Criminal Code Terrorism Framework to Hold Multinational Corporations Accountable for Complicity in Human Rights Violations Abroad

By Johnston, Debbie | University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Lifting the Veil on Corporate Terrorism: The Use of the Criminal Code Terrorism Framework to Hold Multinational Corporations Accountable for Complicity in Human Rights Violations Abroad


Johnston, Debbie, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review


 
I   INTRODUCTION 
 
II  THE CURRENT ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORK APPLICABLE TO MNC'S 
 
Establishing Jurisdiction in International and Domestic Criminal Law 
The Inadequacy of the Current Domestic Regulatory Framework for 
    Canadian MNC's Operating Abroad 
 
III THE ANTI-TERRORISM ACT AMENDMENTS AND THE OFFENCES OF 
    FACILITATING AND FINANCING TERRORISM 
 
Terrorist Activity 
    Armed Conflict Carve-Out 
Terrorist Group 
Facilitating Terrorist Activity 
Terrorist Financing 
Asset Forfeiture 
 
IV  CASE STUDIES--THE DARK SIDE OF COLOMBIAN OIL 
 
Overview of the Colombian Armed Conflict 
Petroleum Investment in Colombia 
The Economics of War: Exploring the Link between Foreign Investment 
    and Human Rights Abuses 
Chiquita 
 
V   LEGAL ANALYSIS 
 
The Defence of Duress 
Possible Drawbacks of Terrorism Offence Prosecutions 
    Defining the Public Interest 
    Politicization of the Definition of Terrorism 
    Veering from Original Legislative Intent 
    Evidence Gathering 
    Standards of Proof 
    No Operational Presence 
    Realities of Doing Business in Conflict Zones 
Possible Advantages of Terrorism Offence Prosecutions 
    Procedure 
    Elements of the Offence: Actus Reus and Mens Rea 
    Deterrence 
    Exemplifying Commitment to the Human Rights and Human 
      Security Agenda 
    Sentencing Opportunities for Compensation and Prevention 
 
VI CONCLUSION 

Abstract

Multinational corporations are increasingly finding themselves under the spotlight in respect of their human rights records. The corporate social responsibility movement has generated widespread discussion and debate about how individual states and the international community should address corporate complicity in human rights abuses in conflict zones, particularly in respect of extractive industries. A growing chorus is highlighting the inadequacy of existing domestic and international accountability frameworks in this respect. Human rights groups and victims have resorted to imperfect mechanisms, most notably the US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) to seek redress. In Canada, contemplation of civil and criminal accountability mechanisms has centered on the ATCA and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. This article proposes that the Criminal Code terrorism provisions, in particular the new offences of facilitating terrorism and terrorist financing and the asset forfeiture regime, can and should be added to Canada's rather bare corporate social accountability toolbox. Not only would this provide ex post facto accountability, but, arguably more importantly, a genuine threat of criminal liability would act as an effective deterrent in a corporate world shaped by strategic risk management, thereby serving a pre-emptive function. While an extensive body of literature and jurisprudence exists on the ATCA, to date there is no writing on the terrorism offences as a means to hold multinational corporations accountable for their complicity in gross human rights abuses in conflict zones.

Resume

Les multinationales se retrouvent de plus en plus sur la sellette en ce qui concerne leurs repercussions sur le droit humanitaire. Le mouvement pour la responsabilite sociale corporative a genere beaucoup de debats et discussions a savoir comment les etats individuels et la communaute internationale devraient adresser la complicite corporative dans des cas d' abus de droits humanitaires dans des zones de conflits, particulierement en ce qui a trait aux industries extractives. Une voix grandissante pointe les deficiences des lois domestiques et internationales de responsabilite corporative. Des groupes de droit humanitaire et de victimes ont utilise des mecanismes imparfaits, dont le plus notable est le << US Alien Tort Claims Act (ACTA) >>. Au Canada, la contemplation des mecanismes de responsabilite civile et criminelle fut centre sur ACTA et sur la loi sur les crimes contre l'humanite et les crimes de guerre.

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