France rejects Canada’s request to extradite Rivoire

Extradition options exhausted, arrest warrant remains active in effort to make priest face justice in Canada

France has denied Canada’s request to extradite Roman Catholic priest Johannes Rivoire to face a charge of sexual abuse in Canada. (File photo)

By Andrea Sakiyama Kennedy

Canada’s request to have Rev. Johannes Rivoire, a Roman Catholic priest, extradited from France to stand trial in Canada has been denied by French authorities, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada announced Wednesday.

Rivoire was a parish priest in what is now Nunavut from the 1960s to 1993. Charges were laid against him in 1998 for sexually abusing Inuit children during that period, but they were stayed in 2017.

In February this year, though, a new charge of abusing a girl in the 1970s was laid against Rivoire, who is now in his 90s and living in France.

French authorities said in their Oct. 14 reply to the PPSC, which is the national organization responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction, that there were two reasons for denying the extradition request.

First, it stated French law prohibits France from extraditing its own citizens and France has determined that at the relevant time Rivoire was a French citizen.

Also, under French law, too much time has passed between when the crimes are alleged to have occurred and the filing of the charge.

French authorities also confirmed they would not prosecute Rivoire in France, where he has lived since 1993, because the statute of limitations on the charge has run out.

The PPSC is keeping the arrest warrant and the prosecution file open, stating it has determined “there remains a reasonable prospect of conviction, and that prosecution is in the public interest.”

RCMP initially charged Rivoire in 1998 with four counts of sexually abusing Inuit children while he served as a parish priest in what is now Nunavut. Those charges were stayed in 2017, meaning the criminal proceedings were effectively halted.

RCMP laid a new charge of indecent assault against Rivoire earlier this year for allegedly sexually abusing a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979.

In September, Nunavut Tungavik Inc. led a delegation to France to confront Rivoire, and press the Roman Catholic Church and French officials on the issue of extradition.

NTI officials could not be reached Wednesday to comment on the PPSC announcement, the latest development in a decades-long attempt to bring the priest to face justice.

In spite of the efforts made, Justice Canada reports that all routes to obtain Rivoire’s extradition from France or have him prosecuted in France have been exhausted.

RCMP have been asked to work with Interpol to issue a Red Notice, which would allow for Rivoire to be arrested should he travel to any other country, making prosecution of Rivoire in Canada a possibility if he leaves France.

 

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(32) Comments:

  1. Posted by Canada knew on

    Surely the Canadian government had received legal advice as to French law and knew what the outcome would be. They had also already made the request in the late 1990s and had come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t happen.

    As difficult as it is for the victims to see the crime go unpunished, Canada knew that France cannot extradite its own citizens and that the crime was prescribed (time barred) under French law. They are just creating false hopes for political reasons. The same goes with Rivoire traveling to other countries and getting arrested: it’s not going to happen (why would he travel?) and in any event, the majority of France’s neighbours also have prescription periods for that kind of crime.

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    • Posted by Jamesie on

      This outcome was expected. The whole trip to France was grandstanding on the part of NTI and, especially, Aluki.

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  2. Posted by Who Does France Think They Are? on

    How dare they say no to Aluki.

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  3. Posted by Stop the Drama on

    Civil suit. Notice of action. NTI can get justice and recognition by a court of law that what is alleged actually happened. This will cost no more than $100k, which NTI can easily afford. Less than the France trip I reckon. Willl they put their money where their mouth is? They sue the GN every five minutes so sue Rivoire for justice already.

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    • Posted by Observer on

      And what would be the point? Sue him in Canada, and you’d need France to enforce it, and they won’t. Sue him in France, they won’t allow it. And even if you did win, what’s the point? The guy is old, poor, and living in a retirement home. What are you going to take from him? How does that benefit any victim?

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      • Posted by The Point on

        How about justice and recognition?
        .
        Civil judgments are another matter but at this point no one cares about extracting cash from a near death old man with probably no money anyway. It is very simply to confirm in a court of law that the allegations are proven true for the families.
        .
        If you are naive to think any criminal court would ever put this guy behind bars youre dreaming.

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        • Posted by No Justice No Diocese on

          If anybody thinks justice can be achieved by a court simply confirming what has been said happened, with no actual implications, then I think you’re delusional. Why would Inuit need a colonial court system to affirm their allegations if there’s no retribution? Seems like more of a slap in the face than justice.

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          • Posted by Because Truth on

            Because the truth is not a colonial concept and Inuit deserve to have allegations confirmed not left to the court of public opinion. There is a presumption of innocence that applies to Rivoire whether you like it or not, and until a court says otherwise it applies.

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            • Posted by Dave on

              Please explain how a civil suit in absentia does that?

              Just pointing out, if Rivoire loses a civil suit it is because he is found “liable”. Civil suits in Canada do not determine guilt.

              So you’ll never get a guilty verdict or a dollar this way.

              • Posted by Let me tell explain on

                Being absent does not mean there would be a judgment. There is a need to still prove liability to the court. If Rivoire does not defend this, which he could without ever leaving France to extent, Inuit will eventually get their judgment and recognition.
                .
                The alternative of pursuing someone for criminal charges that we all know never were going anywhere, we all know were stayed 20+ years ago because PPSC knew they would never convict, and doing nothing is meaningless.
                .
                OJ Simpson was found no guilty in a criminal trial but was found liable when sued civilly by the Estate of his dead wife. Thus brought the family justice.

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                • Posted by Observer on

                  You have the federal Justice Minister expressing unhappiness with Rivoire out of reach of the Canadian justice system. You had the Prime Minister discussing the issue with the Pope. News of the story was in national media before the NTI jaunt to France, and the refusal to extradite a few days ago also has made national news. Pretty much everyone in Canada from the leadership of government to the average citizen who knows the story assumes he’s as guilty as sin.

                  How much more recognition and judgment do you think is possible?

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                  • Posted by So it must be true… on

                    So your reference for fact-finding and telling the truth is the Prime Minister and Justice Minister? Politicians?
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                    Where do I even start with great examples?
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                    You’re right we don’t need courts of law, we just need the opinion of politicians instead of due process and evidence. Let’s start with former Mayor Kenny Bell and have him sit on the Nunavut Court of Justice pronouncing guilt and innocence.
                    .
                    What a disservice to these families: “the Prime Minister believes you”. I am sure that’s a real comfort. That is a really getting your day in court for these families.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Rivoire was a Catholic priest they take a vow of poverty, he owns nothing.

  4. Posted by Crimebusters on

    Look, there are plenty of local pedophiles you can go after. You know where they live, no extradition required, and you could actually prevent future crimes by stopping them. It’s so fascinating that that’s just not of interest to those who claim to be doing this for the children.

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    • Posted by Jetsetters Unite! on

      This is too true. There are known individuals in our communities that they should go after, but this wouldn’t require the top dogs to go on an all expenses paid trip halfway around the world to do so.

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      • Posted by 867 on

        Why would NTI want to go after its own people? The optics of going after a senile priest in France are just soo soo much better

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    • Posted by Human Nature on

      The ethnic/national ingroup-outgroup element is clearly in play.

      More palatable to go after those nasty foreigners in a symbolic show than to take substantive action againt our own.

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  5. Posted by The Law Cuts Two Ways on

    France has the right to refuse extradition of its citizens.
    Canada has the right to refuse to export uranium to France.
    Nunavut Impact Review Board has the power to reject any mine application that would send uranium to France. Devolution has a use.

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    • Posted by Lol on

      If you have any knowledge of free trade treaties you would know the rights to exclude trade are pretty limited.
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      I know for my part I will only buy Canadian Bread and Freedom Fries from here on out.

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    • Posted by Nice Try But… on

      Yeeeeaaaahhhh, good luck with that – not how it works at all.

  6. Posted by frank on

    well, what do you know?!?! i said it some time ago, what an embarrassment this will be for the group that left, and for the whole Nunavut territory to do something that will never happen. free trip for the group and a embarrassment for the group and nunavut. The public is going to be asking questions now, cant wait to hear their answers.

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    • Posted by the tank on

      Don’t go promoting your legal prowess, about 95% of people said the same thing. I’m sure France is very nice in the summer though.

      • Posted by frank on

        what makes you say im promoting my legal expertise? its easy to tell you have a very erragant attitude just from the words you use, mr know it all, and those who read your comment know who you are, LOL

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        • Posted by the tank on

          I don’t mean to be arrogant, I’m just pointing out that when you say, “I said it some time ago”, you were one of the vast majority. “We” said it some time ago.

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  7. Posted by Delbert on

    Aluki and her followers have been told that Riviore is not going to be extradited. They wasted thousands of Inuits money by making a useless trip to France. They have embearced themselves and the people of Nunavut. If the people went on this trip. Have any respect for for themselves or the people that they represent. There resignations would be tendered imeadately. And they would refund the costs of the trip. If they are unwilling to do this. The people should demand their removal.

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  8. Posted by Tanya Tungilik on

    I did not have high expectations about getting Rivoire extradited, but it was not a waste of time or money to go to France. It was priceless to be able to tell him off to his face, I got to say things that I know I wouldn’t be able to in court. I got to say exactly what my late father wanted to say to him for decades, that was worth every damn penny! I am eternally grateful to Aluki and NTI for making that possible, they are heroes in my eyes. Rivoire could die tomorrow and I wouldn’t care, because at least I got to have my say first. I’m sure Steve Mapsalak feels the same way.

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    • Posted by Rankin Inlet Resident on

      I agree and am glad for you, Tanya… sincerely

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      • Posted by Delbertdd on

        So many lives impacted by Riviore. You are pleased with youself and probably Mapsalka is pleased with himself too. What about the ones who have to suffer in silence. They will never have the oppurtunity to say how they feel. Shouldn’t the money spent on going to France. Been used to provide support for them? Here in Nunavut.

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  9. Posted by Tulugaq on

    The Public Prosecution Service Canada (PPSC) is responsible for criminal prosecutions in Nunavut (while the provinces have their own criminal prosecutors, and Nunavut is still considered as a colony by Canada) AND for extradition matters. Of course it was known that France does not extradite its own nationals, like many other countries, and that these crimes were not anymore crimes in France because of time limitation in French laws. That’s why previous charges were stayed, while there was still a faint hope that Rivoire could travel out of France and be arrested on an international warrant (like what happened to de Jaeger). But Rivoire is getting older and the likelihood that he will travel is remote at best, especially out of France. There is no doubt that the criminal court system failed in this matter. Now the question is to determine what else could be done to help the victims.

    • Posted by Dave on

      Now the question is to determine what else could be done to help the victims.
      ————–
      How about an apology from all the victims friends and family who chose to turn a blind eye for 33 years? It’s impossible to keep this a secret in such tiny towns for decades.

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  10. Posted by embarrassed nti card holder on

    see aluki???!! go spent your time at your office instead and make those long waiting list for those who are waiting for their NTI card!!!
    didn’t had to leave canada, i hope you will pay for everything

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