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Canada

    June 10, 2014

    June 10, 2014

    The Honourable Peter MacKay
    Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Canada K1A 0A6

    RE: Implementation of existing recommendations needed to address violence against Indigenous women

    Dear Minister MacKay,

    The shocking rate of violence faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls in Canada is nothing less than a national human rights crisis.

    Responding to the growing demand for a National Public Inquiry into this crisis, you have repeatedly stated that Canada needs action, not more studies. To support this position you have distributed a list of 40 reports that previously examined the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls or related factors that put Indigenous women and girls at risk.

    Minister MacKay, as an organization that wrote two of the reports on your list, Amnesty International strongly objects to our work being used as a justification for not calling a National Public Inquiry into violence against Indigenous women.

    June 10, 2014

    Bill C-24, the federal government’s proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act, has serious human rights flaws, says Amnesty International. The proposed legislation would give the federal government new powers to revoke Canadian citizenship in some cases when individuals are convicted of specified crimes related to terrorism and similar offences. The new provisions fall short of a range of international human rights obligations, including non-discrimination and fair hearing guarantees.  Consequently, Amnesty International is calling on the government to withdraw these new revocation provisions from the Bill. 

    June 09, 2014

    By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    A few years ago I heard a young First Nations woman describing the unsafe drinking water, the poor quality school and other conditions that she faced every day growing up in her home community. “What did we do to be treated like this?” she asked.

    In most communities in Canada, government services like education, health care and family services are provided by a combination of municipal and provincial governments. However, in the case of First Nations people living on reserves these services are instead funded through the federal government.

    Critically, study after study has shown that federal funding for basic services on reserves routinely falls short of what is required to provide First Nations families with access to the same quality of services--  like education and health care -- enjoyed other communities in Canada.
    Here’s what the Auditor General of Canada had to say about the situation in 2011:

    May 23, 2014

    On May 26, 2014, Amnesty International Canada is intervening, jointly with the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Net),  at the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of Tanudjaja et al v Attorneys General of Ontario and Canada. The case, scheduled for three days of hearings, is being brought by a number of individuals who have experienced the severe effects of homelessness and inadequate housing. The applicants argue that their rights to life, to security of the person and to equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been violated. The Governments of Ontario and Canada are trying to have the case dismissed without a full hearing. The Ontario Court of Appeal will decide whether the case can proceed.

    May 22, 2014

    By Alex Neve and Ghislain Picard Opinion Editorial Published in Toronto Star May 22, 2014

    The federal government’s new report on Human Rights and the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement, quietly submitted as Parliament recessed last week, would have us believe there are no trade and investment-related human rights concerns in Colombia – and no reason to look at what is happening in areas of resource extraction. But deadly realities confronting Indigenous peoples in the South American country tell another story.

    Fifteen year old Génesis Gisselle had just got out of school two weeks ago when the phone rang. An unknown voice delivered a terrifying message: “Tell your family to take care of themselves and of you - because we are going to kill you.”

    May 20, 2014

    Amnesty International Canada and the Assembly of First Nations are expressing serious concern that the federal government has once again issued a “human rights impact assessment” about commerce with Colombia that fails to acknowledge the deadly repression faced by Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities, trade unionists and others in that country. This wilful omission is particularly concerning given testimony by Indigenous leaders from Colombia about dire threats to their very survival in the context of the kind of resource development projects that the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement has served to promote.

    “This report would have parliamentarians believe there are no trade and investment-related human rights concerns in Colombia. This flies in the face of abundant, well-documented evidence to the contrary from a growing chorus of respected Colombian and international organizations,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    May 16, 2014

    In a report released today, the RCMP provided further substantiation to its conclusion, made public earlier this month, that 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered between 1980-2012, a homicide rate at least four times higher than that faced by all other women.

    The report also identifies 164 unresolved cases of Indigenous women and girls who have been missing for 30 days or longer.

    While Amnesty International welcomes the efforts made by the RCMP to research and make public these statistics, we are deeply concerned by the fact that the national police service had not previously sought to clarify the extent of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls.

    May 14, 2014

    Amnesty International is deeply disappointed in today’s Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Harkat. This decision, which fundamentally engages Canada’s binding international obligations, contained no reference to any relevant international legal sources, and the court ruled that Canada’s security certificate regime is both constitutional and fair.

    The security certificate system is a process that allows non-citizens to be detained without charge, potentially indefinitely, based on evidence that they might never see and which would otherwise be inadmissible in a court of law – such as intelligence from foreign countries, which could be derived from torture. A person who is subject to a security certificate might eventually face deportation to a country where he or she will be at risk of torture or death.

    May 12, 2014

    by Craig Benjamin,
    Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

    A leading United Nations human rights expert says the situation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada has reached "crisis proportions in many respects."

    In a just released report, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, highlights a wide range of concerns documented during his 2013 research mission to Canada.

    May 08, 2014

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80  Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A2

    May 8, 2014

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    As an integral part of Amnesty International’s ongoing effort, within Canada and globally, to encourage businesses and governments to ensure that company operations promote strong human rights protection and do not lead to human rights abuses, our international office has recently published the enclosed book, Injustice Incorporated: Advancing the Right to Remedy for Corporate Abuses of Human Rights.  We are officially launching the book in Canada today at a conference at Ryerson University’s Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility.
     

    May 08, 2014

    Toronto -- Amnesty International today launched in Canada a major new publication on the right to remedy for victims of corporate human rights abuses at a conference on corporate social responsibility at Ryerson University. The book, entitled Injustice Incorporated: Corporate Abuses and the Human Right to Remedy (Injustice Incorporated) provides a comprehensive framework for substantially changing the legal imbalance between vulnerable individuals and powerful companies.

    May 07, 2014

    by Alex Neve,
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    The stories mount, stories of human rights abuse and injustice: ‘mining activists shot’, ‘mine operations suspended’, ‘company accused of water pollution.’ Far too often a Canadian mining company is behind the story.  Canadian mining companies lead the mining world; but none aspire to lead the world in mining-related human rights abuses.

    There is a common theme to all the cases:  lack of an effective remedy open to the individuals and communities who suffer human rights harms associated with Canadian mining operations. 

    Victims have nowhere to turn for justice.  Not in their home country; neither in Canada.

    May 06, 2014

    By Craig Benjamin and Jackie Hansen

    “What we do not need now is to stop and talk and study. We need more action.” - Federal Justice Minister Peter McKay, March 2014.

    Let’s be clear: we all want action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

    But we don’t need just any action. We need action that can actually stop the violence tearing First Nations, Inuit and Metis women and girls from their families. We need action that is coordinated and properly-resourced. And we need action that is based on accurate information and a clear understanding of the true extent and nature of the threats faced based by Indigenous women and girls.

    Unfortunately, that is not the kind of action that the federal government is delivering.

    April 29, 2014

    (Ottawa, ON) – Two weeks before the Canadian government must submit its 2014 report on the human rights effects of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Amnesty International and the Assembly of First Nations have made an urgent public appeal to the Canadian government about the acute human rights emergency that threatens the very survival of scores of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, many in areas earmarked for resource extraction.

    The call comes a day after Indigenous, labour and environmental organizations in Colombia made public a report expressing concern about the impact of Canadian mining projects and the responsibility of Canada to ensure Canadian-based companies respect human rights in Colombia.

    Earlier this month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights representative in Colombia Todd Howland warned that 40 of the 102 Indigenous nations in Colombia are at risk of extinction. Indigenous organizations have signaled that many others are faced with destruction. All agree that the imposition of mining projects without human rights guarantees is a key factor in this emergency.

    April 10, 2014

    Downplaying the human rights of Indigenous peoples will only exacerbate conflict over pipeline development in British Columbia.

    In a joint submission tabled with the Prime Minister’s office last month, 11 human rights and Indigenous peoples’ organizations, including the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and Union of BC Indian Chiefs, caution that development of energy infrastructure such as pipelines can have far-reaching effects on Indigenous rights protected under the Canadian Constitution and international law.

    The joint submission responds to two reports currently being reviewed by the federal cabinet: the report of the Prime Minister’s special representative on West Coast energy infrastructure, Douglas Eyford and the report of the environmental assessment panel for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

    While these two reports acknowledge that Indigenous peoples’ rights are at stake in decisions about whether or not to approve pipelines and other projects, neither adequately addresses the legal framework for safeguarding these rights and neither accommodates a human rights-based approach.

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