Opposition pans omnibus amendments

NDP justice critic Jack Harris addresses the media during a press conference in Ottawa in this...

NDP justice critic Jack Harris addresses the media during a press conference in Ottawa in this August 12, 2011 file photo. (JOHN MAJOR/QMI Agency Files)

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:23 PM ET

OTTAWA -­ Choosing 'rogue states' that terror victims can sue will turn into a diplomatic headache for the federal government, Opposition MPs say.

Under the proposed terror victims law - currently in front on the House of Commons after being amended by the Senate - Cabinet would create a list of 'rogue states' Canadians victims of terror could sue for damages.

Foreign states currently can't be sued in domestic courts, but part of the Conservative government's omnibus crime bill would allow Canadian victims of terrorism to sue responsible foreign states and terrorist organizations.

Critics point to problems experienced in the U.S., which has similar legislation.

The U.S. currently allows Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan to be sued, but countries like Libya have been listed and delisted depending on which way political winds blow.

And Americans who successfully sued Iraq later lost compensation after it was retroactively delisted during the Iraq war.

"This politicizes the process," NDP justice critic Jack Harris said Tuesday.

"It's detrimental to international relations, to say. 'We'll put you on the list, we'll take you off.'"

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler pointed to Iran and Syria as states that should be on the list as state sponsors of terrorism, but said allowing the government to make those decisions gives it too much authority.

"And I'm relying on witness testimony from the U.S. State department that said: 'Don't go there, we've gone that route and it was a mistake,'" he said.

Cotler suggested it would be more fair ­ and better for victims - if only countries that share extradition treaties with Canada maintained immunity from being sued.

Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, is back in the House of Commons after the Senate added six amendments to the victims of terrorism segment.


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