A former judge will mediate for the victims of the « Havana syndrome »
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell will mediate claims against the federal government of nine family members of Canadian diplomats who suffered from a mysterious ailment in Cuba.
This is a further step toward resolving some elements of a 2019 federal court lawsuit filed by diplomats and relatives who fell mysteriously ill while stationed in Havana. The lawsuit, which now has 18 plaintiffs, is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the Canadian government.
Plaintiffs have reported health ailments since 2017, including headaches, memory loss, inability to concentrate, cognitive and visual problems, hypersensitivity to noise, dizziness, nausea, trouble sleeping, mood swings and nosebleeds.
In July 2021, Global Affairs Canada said 15 Canadians had been confirmed diagnosed with « acquired brain injury ».
The parties have agreed to appoint ex-Justice Cromwell, who served for eight years on the land’s highest court, as mediator in a session due to take place in late February or early March this year. next. This decision follows instructions from the Federal Court in early October on the next steps in this case.
Diplomats say the Canadian government failed to protect them, withheld crucial information and downplayed the seriousness of the risks. The government has denied wrongdoing and negligence.
Canadian and American investigations could not pinpoint the cause of many of the ailments, with theories ranging from sound attacks targeted by an adversary to spraying pesticides.
Global Affairs Canada declined to answer specific questions about the planned mediation.
Several U.S. personnel who worked in Cuba reported similar health issues, commonly referred to as « Havana Syndrome. » More recently, symptoms have been reported in US personnel in places including Washington, Austria and China.
In October last year, Global Affairs Canada sent a message to all staff worldwide outlining the symptoms and how to report problems. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service sent similar messages to their personnel, according to the department.