Judge says Federal Court lacks jurisdiction for Uyghur genocide case

OTTAWA — A Federal Court judge has thrown out a Uyghur group's attempt to sue the Liberal government over its lack of response to a possible genocide in China.

The judge says courts can only rule on whether the government is following existing laws and policies, instead of delving into global agreements.

The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project had asked the Federal Court to find that Ottawa was breaching a United Nations convention against genocide by ignoring events in China.

Two years ago, the House of Commons voted to declare China's treatment of its Uyghur minority population a genocide, but the cabinet abstained and the Liberals say such a determination requires more international investigations.

In a ruling last Thursday, Justice Alan Diner says it is "plain and obvious" that his court cannot direct Ottawa's foreign policy, and can only rule on specific federal bodies.

The judge also denied an application to put the motion on hold so that the group could cite specific federal policies, saying there is no concrete decision by Ottawa that the group could pin its case on.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

The Canadian Press