‘Cold reality of the law’: France signals it won’t extradite Rivoire

Inuit delegation left with frustration after meeting with officials from French justice ministry

Members of the NTI delegation in France, including Steve Mapsalak, wearing a light blue shirt (left), Aluki Kotierk and David Aglukark Jr. wearing a dark blue shirt (right) leave the Ministry of Justice in Paris on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

PARIS — Anger, sadness, frustration.

Those were the feelings seen on the faces of an Inuit delegation in Paris as they emerged from a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials Tuesday evening.

The group met with Isabelle Jégouzou, an adviser to the French justice minister, and officials from the Ministry of Justice.

Speaking to reporters outside the Ministry of Justice building, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk said it was a “frustrating meeting.”

“We were interrupted and talked over and the common message was that French nationals cannot be extradited,” she said.

Kotierk and a delegation of Inuit are in Paris and Lyon this week to push the French government to extradite Rev. Johannes Rivoire, 91, a Roman Catholic priest who worked in Nunavut for more than 30 years and was charged in 1998 with sexually abusing children during that time.

Aluki Kotierk and the rest of the Inuit delegation leave a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials in Paris on Tuesday. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

Rivoire left Canada for France in 1993, and has remained there since.

Those original charges were stayed in 2017, but in 2022 RCMP laid another charge against Rivoire for allegedly sexually abusing a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979.

Canada has asked France to extradite the priest and a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest.

The group emerged after spending more than an hour and a half inside the Ministry of Justice building in central Paris, their third meeting of the day.

“There were words that expressed how much they understood our plight, but ultimately it was clear that there is no political will to extradite French nationals,” Kotierk said.

Nunatsiaq News sent an interview request to France’s Minister of Justice but had not received a response by Tuesday afternoon.

Along with Kotierk, the delegation includes NTI chief executive officer Kilikvak Kabloona, Steve Mapsalak, a victim of Rivoire’s alleged abuse and Tanya and Jesse Tungilik, children of Marius Tungilik who was also a victim of Rivoire’s alleged abuse.

Lieve Halsberghe, a Belgian lawyer and human rights advocate working with NTI while in France, said the meeting was difficult.

“We tried to plead with them for a very long time,” she said.

“I found it an extremely hard meeting to be faced with this reality, this cold reality of the law.”

While France has an extradition treaty with Canada, France does not typically extradite its citizens.

Tanya Tungilik (left) and NTI president Aluki Kotierk speak briefly to the media following a meeting with Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to France, on Tuesday. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

The delegation started its day with a one-hour meeting with Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to France.

The delegation was tight-lipped following that meeting with Dion, refusing to take questions from the media and offering only a statement when they emerged.

Kotierk said Dion had helped to arrange the meeting with the officials from the Ministry of Justice.

“We’re really grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Canadian ambassador and we appreciate his support,” she said.

Asked if she could share more of what Dion said in the meeting, Kotierk replied, “I’ll leave it at that.”

Tanya Tungilik also said she was grateful that Dion met with them, but didn’t elaborate.

“He seems very supportive,” Tungilik said.

“We …  asked him to convey to France that France cannot be the country that is harbouring wanted fugitive criminals from the Church who escaped from justice in Canada,” Halsberghe added.

On Wednesday, the delegation will travel to Lyon where it plans to meet with officials from the Oblates, a Roman Catholic order whose members have traditionally been involved in education, including Father Vincent Gruber, who leads France’s Oblates.

Share This Story

(44) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    No offense, but did anyone believe France would instantly amend their constitution to allow for extradition? In sure their lawyers told them their chance of success was near zero. At least they got to visit France, hopefully the shopping was good.

    80
    15
    • Posted by iRoll on

      This has nothing to do with their ‘constitution.’ It is, instead, a codified the principle in their domestic legislation.

      18
      3
    • Posted by Free Trip on

      They lawyer obviously did not advice this, as the lawyer is on a free trip to Paris with them!

      22
      5
    • Posted by oh ima on

      Unless you have been a victim of a crime, this trip was not easy for everyone, especially for Mapsalak and Marias’ children. At least NTI tried to do something for a beneficiary and bring the monster justice. What have you done to bring him to justice?
      Have you helped a victims of a crime before? Advocate for someone you care for?

  2. Posted by Northerner on

    These people knew that , they had no chance of getting the preist deported to Canada , yet they went. waste of money

    99
    8
    • Posted by Curious on

      I wonder how much of this was driven by the fact that over the last while being in the leadership of an indigenous group in Canada has finally made Canadian governments take you seriously, but they haven’t realized that outside of Canada foreign governments don’t care. The French government just sees a bunch of foreigners trying to tell them what to do.

      41
      2
    • Posted by Frank on

      Exactly like I said few weeks ago, that it’s going to be an embarrassment to the group and for the whole nunavut territory, certainly a big waste of money and a big embarrassment. Everybody knew exactly what the outcome was going to be. I, myself am very embarrassed because I live in nunavut. I mean, did they actually think they would be granted? It was already hopeless from the get go. Imagine them wishing they can just hide when heading home, lol.

      31
      4
      • Posted by Embarrassed? on

        If you are embarrassed, there’s a daily flight south. Go live where you won’t be embarrassed

        9
        25
        • Posted by Frank on

          Ok, very easy to tell you are a relative to one of the people who tried making the super hero attempt to do the impossible,lol

          15
          2
          • Posted by Embarrassed? on

            So just because I’m telling someone to get out of Nunavut who’s embarrassed to live here, makes me a relative to someone in the delegation? I don’t even know who these people are. Why live in a place where you are embarrassed to live?

            5
            14
            • Posted by josywales on

              Yea Frank, seems you are one of those who would rather put people down who are trying to make a difference. Like the previous texter said, there are flights going outside of Nunavut, do not be embarrassed as you leave.

              3
              3
            • Posted by Today, In Out of Touchness on

              It doesn’t make you a relative, but telling someone to leave is generally considered bigoted.

              Clearly, the individual you are replying to is staying and making Nunavut better, for that we should be grateful.

              “My territory right or wrong” is quite out of touch with the zeitgeist of the times.

              1
              4
  3. Posted by wondering on

    Next time..pick up the phone first..NTI who..im sure that was their response.

    58
    7
  4. Posted by Get used to it… on

    Under a Conservative Government NTI will also get these types of answers here in Canada, where their positions are often based on rhetoric and emotion, not law and reason. They are too used to being placated. Our Federal and Provincial Governments should take note that there are instances where they can deny requests from indigenous organizations and be within the bounds of the law.
    .
    It is unfortunate that Rivoire will not ever face charges, but NTI has other options that would find justice for individuals and their families civil court: to date there has never been any formal judicial decision confirming the allegations that have been made are, in fact, true, and leaving this as-is is a disservice to those unable to see the charges tried in the criminal courts.
    .
    People will say that justice requires punishment. I would argue a verdict confirming what is alleged actually happened is more important, and even if tried and convicted then the criminal process provides no guarantees of adequate punishment for sex offenders. Anyone thinking that any individual that advanced in age and condition would spend a day in a jail cell is naive.

    29
    9
  5. Posted by Leave it to Beaver on

    Too bad NTI doesn’t read Nunatsiaq News comment sections, because everybody other than NTI knew that this exact thing would happen. They could’ve used their money on something more productive.

    60
    6
  6. Posted by Wow on

    Now that is a civilized country, they know how to protect their citizens even if they committed horrendous acts and broke the law.

    15
    9
  7. Posted by Curious on

    I’m curious how the French society feels about harbouring a child molester? Are they fine with their government protecting such a person?

    If things were reversed and we had a child rapist and France was trying to bring him to justice and Canada was protecting him, would we feel outraged or be ok with it?

    It just seems like France is in the wrong here and they could be doing the right thing. I wonder if there are a lot of criminals being protected in France if they do things this way?

    22
    12
    • Posted by Let’s Move On on

      OK! Let’s move on! He’s going to be punished for his sins when he meets the maker…it’s time to let go and move forward to make sure this does not happen again. This still exists within our own communities-let’s concentrate on that instead.

      30
      15
      • Posted by Barry on

        Breaking News. “Let’s Move On” says Indigenous people should ‘just get over’ centuries of crushing colonialism.

        15
        30
    • Posted by Important Details on

      The reason France does not extradite their own nationals is because they cannot be guaranteed that once they do, their citizens will face a fair trial void of bias, emotion, and politics. Canada would do the same.

      20
      5
    • Posted by Presumption on

      The presumption of innocence applies under Canadian law and the French system is no different. France has their rules and they follow them, which is no surprise. You need to understand that what we have been seeing under Trudeau Miller and Lametti spouting rhetoric about guilt and criminal conduct when no one ever set foot in a court room in this matter and others is very very unusual, because politicians typically take the line that the presumption of innocence applies and the courts will make a determination. Instead we have had an election cycle of politicians playing the court of public opinion tunes without regard to the consequences of it. They also play it the other way when major Quebec companies are charged with criminal conduct in other states by trying to influence the prosecutor to drop it and throwing unwilling attorneys general out of the liberal party. This conduct is not normal, but being close to Trump land it seems mild when in fact it isn’t mild at all.

      14
      3
    • Posted by They knew the answer on

      They knew the answer before going there. It had been explained over and over that France does not extradite its citizens. However, what France sometimes does, is prosecute their own citizens for crimes committed abroad but this case had another problem: it was time barred under French law so that was not possible either.

      17
      3
  8. Posted by Concerned Kabloona on

    Did anyone at NTI ever think that since there was zero chance that Rivoire would be extradited it would be terribly and needlessly hard on abuse survivors and their kin to go to France and be rejected?

    35
    3
  9. Posted by Perks of the job on

    Why would NTI’s program manager for Missing Inuit Children of Residential Schools attend? Rivoire didn’t work in the residential school system.

    36
    4
  10. Posted by forgiveness on

    the whole premise of church and religion is about forgiveness.

    3
    10
    • Posted by oh ima on

      cause the church knows the horrendous crimes they will commit so they indoctrinated forgiveness.

  11. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Oh my goodness, I am shocked, appalled, dismayed, angry, hurt, disappointed, despondent and overall a little bit jealous that NTI allowed Aluki to spend NTIs money on this first class holiday.

    If she listened to the people none of this would have happened. Yeah right.

    45
    3
  12. Posted by Investigate this!!! on

    This needs to be investigated!! How much did they spend on this trip??? We have children being abused in Nunavut. Your people are starving and living in poverty yet NTI flies first class to France with our money on a ridiculous witch hunt that they KNEW would result in nothing!!! This is explicit mismanagement. Investigate them Nunatsiaq news – you owe us the truth!!

    53
    3
  13. Posted by Concerned beneficiary on

    Expensive trip, expensive hotel, expensive meal and useless trip.
    What a waste of their budget.

    35
    2
  14. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Maybe Aluki should have promised if this doesn’t work she would reimburse NTI and our people for this paid holiday. Because we all knew this was just about the adventure and new stamp in the passport.

    Did any of her family join her?

    43
    3
    • Posted by true dat! on

      Free trip for Aluki, her assistant and the CEO. Why all 3 of them needs to go with the 3 survivors? Free paid holiday for sure.

      18
      2
  15. Posted by Surprised?? on

    Anyone notice that in the picture after their meeting Aluki is walking in a totally different direction and away from the survivors she brought with her? Maybe I’m reading into this too much but I feel like the image captures what I’ve heard about her. Apparently she won’t give her people the time of day if she sees them in public and they try to talk to her. She’s the leader of our org but actually doesn’t care. Not welcoming or supportive at all. Are the people she brought with her just token side piece to her vacation in Europe, hmmm. Makes me wonder.

    27
    3
    • Posted by Anaanamous on

      That’s exactly what I saw in the pics. Even how she’s looking at Tanya. Aluki doesn’t give a hoot. She only cares for votes and likes. Pathetic and this is what is leading an organization. Nunavut needs to wake up and elect the right ppl in. Not their buddy or aunt or uncle.
      I feel for the survivors. They went out there in all kinds of pain, anger, probably a lil embarrassment for the former MLA to publicly show that he was a victim. Can you make sure these folks get the help they need instead of pushing on something that will never happen. My heart goes out to the victims of this pedophile.

      20
      2
  16. Posted by John K on

    To the utter surprise of exactly no one.

    Weather seemed nice: hope they enjoyed the free trip.

    15
    2
  17. Posted by Meanwhile, local Child Abusers go ignored … on

    When do we start getting serious about dealing with all the hordes of local home-grown child molesters?

    24
    1
  18. Posted by Swedish Chef on

    Try the soup before you leave! It’s delicious!

    10
    2
  19. Posted by embarrassed nti card holder on

    ooof, i knew it
    go back to nunavut and go deal with the store food prices not everybody is rich like you aluki

    18
    3
  20. Posted by Very Considerate on

    It was very considerate of the justice officials to meet with the delegation – good on them.

    12
  21. Posted by Northern Guy on

    How childishly naive of NTI to assume that the French Government would simply roll over and agree to their demands! Dealing with the current Liberal government which bends to their every whim has clearly warped their thinking.

    8
    3
  22. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Is NTI subject Access to Information laws? If so, someone should request details on this trip like what kind of flights were booked Economy or First Class? Was everyone booked at the same rate or were there discrepancies? What hotel did they stay at and what was the nightly rate? What was the length of the trip? Looks like they had maybe one or two days of meetings at most, so when are they all coming back?

    7
    3
  23. Posted by Umingmak on

    Shame on France. They should be held responsible for collusion with the church and this “priest”.

    3
    1

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*