Former Supreme Court justice to arbitrate multiple ‘Havana syndrome’ claims – National


Former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell will mediate claims against the federal government of nine family members of Canadian diplomats who suffered unexplained illnesses in Cuba.

The development is a step toward resolving some elements of a Federal Court lawsuit filed in 2019 by diplomats and dependents – who now number 18 plaintiffs – who are seeking millions of dollars in damages from the Canadian government after fell mysteriously ill while stationed in Havana.

They have reported difficulties since 2017, including headaches, memory loss, inability to concentrate, cognitive and visual problems, sensitivity to noise, dizziness, nausea, trouble sleeping, changes in mood and nosebleeds.

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In July last year, Global Affairs Canada said 15 Canadians had been confirmed diagnosed with « acquired brain injury ».

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The parties have agreed to appoint Cromwell, who served for eight years on the highest court, as mediator in a session due to take place in late February or early March next year.

The decision follows the Federal Court’s direction in early October on the next steps in the case.

Click to play video: 'Canadian Embassy staff warned to remain silent on 'Havana syndrome'

Canadian Embassy staff warned to remain silent on ‘Havana Syndrome’

Paul Miller and John Phillips, co-lawyers for the plaintiffs, said in a statement to The Canadian Press that they appreciate the government’s agreement to mediate the claims of seven children and two spouses who suffered brain injuries. traumatic in Cuba.

“Our families have been waiting for this matter to be resolved for a long time. They continue to suffer from the injuries they sustained while in Cuba, which had a direct and significant impact on their lives, children, childhood and upbringing,” Miller and Phillips said.

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« We expect the government to come to the table with meaningful proposals and implore the government to expand mediation to include all government personnel who also suffered serious injuries in Havana. »

Diplomats say the Canadian government failed to protect them, hid crucial information and downplayed the seriousness of the risks. The government has denied wrongdoing and negligence.

Canadian and American investigations have failed to identify 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.

The department said in an email response that it maintains a strict security protocol to immediately respond to any unusual events or health symptoms affecting Canadian diplomats.

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“Global Affairs Canada continues to monitor the health and safety of its diplomatic personnel stationed in Havana. We are also continuing to investigate any potential causes of unknown health symptoms. For privacy and security reasons, we cannot comment on details of ongoing investigations, individual cases, or specific security measures. »

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The ministry said it would not comment further as the matter is before the courts.

Several U.S. personnel who worked in Cuba reported similar health issues, commonly referred to as Havana syndrome. More recently, symptoms have been reported among US personnel in areas such as Washington, Austria and China.

In October last year, Global Affairs sent a message to all staff worldwide outlining the symptoms and how to report issues.

The RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service sent similar messages to their personnel, according to the department.

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press


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