France lacks ‘political will’ to extradite wanted priest to Canada: NTI

Constitution protects French nationals from foreign trials.


It was a devastating blow to their lobbying efforts in France.

Members of a Nunavut delegation heard Tuesday an elderly French priest won’t be extradited to Canada.

“There were words that expressed how much they sympathized with our plight,” said Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI).

“But ultimately it was clear there is no political will to extradite French nationals.”

The delegation made up of NTI officials, abuse survivors and family members was inside the French Ministry of Justice for more than an hour to discuss the case of Joannes Rivoire.

Wanted in Canada

Rivoire, 91, is wanted in Canada for the alleged indecent assault of an Inuk girl nearly 50 years ago.

The government of Canada said it asked France last month to extradite Rivoire.

Only Kotierk and Lieve Halsberghe, a human rights activist from Belgium working with NTI, spoke to reporters afterwards.

But the disappointment could be seen on all of the delegates’ faces.

The meeting was frustrating, added Kotierk.

 

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

“So that’s where we’re at at this point.”

There was no official comment from the justice ministry following the meeting. Nor did the ministry respond to a request to speak with APTN News.

The delegation heads south to Lyon Wednesday where Rivoire lives in a retirement home.

He denies the allegation he abused an Inuk girl while working as a Catholic missionary in Nunavut from 1963 to 1993.

Rivoire’s order

Halsberghe said it is now up to Rivoire’s order – the Oblates of Mary Immaculate – to send him back to Canada.

Earlier in the day, the delegation met with Canada’s ambassador to France, Stephane Dion.

The ambassador didn’t take reporters’ questions after the meeting but delegates say Dion helped set up some future meetings.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with the head of the Oblates in France on Wednesday afternoon.

Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.