France refuses to extradite priest accused of sexual assault in Nunavut

The federal government says France has rejected an extradition request for a priest accused of crimes against children in Nunavut.

The Canadian Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded the extradition of Johannes Rivoire, a 90-year-old from Lyon, France.

Rivoire is wanted under a Canada-wide warrant issued in February on charges of sexual assault resulting from complaints received last year.

“It is heartbreaking to see this grave injustice continue,” Royal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mark Miller said in a tweet Thursday.

Rivoire stayed in Canada from the early 1960s until 1993, before returning to France. He has so far avoided trial over multiple sexual abuse allegations related to working as a priest in Nunavut.

An arrest warrant was also issued in 1998. He has been charged with at least three charges of sexual abuse in his Nunavut communities in Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Naujaat. After more than 20 years, his charges were put on hold.

The Canadian Public Prosecutor’s Office said at the time that France’s reluctance to extradite Rivoire was partly to blame.

Miller said the federal government is working with the RCMP to get Interpol to issue a “red notice.”

“Therefore, prosecution in Canada remains possible if Johannes Rivoire leaves France,” Miller said.

A group representing the Inuit of Nunavut traveled to France last month to demand extradition.

canadian press