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Canada

    November 06, 2013

    WHEN:  Friday November 8 10:00 am - 12:00 pm noon

    WHERE: Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, 299 Montreal Rd,  Ottawa

    Introduction: Leadership from the Tsilhqot'in National Government

    Keynote presentations:

    Grand Chief  Ed John, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
    Louise Mandell, Mandell Pinder. LLP

    Panelists:

    Will David, Paul Joffe, Robert Morales, Maria Morellato, and Jay Nelson

    For the first time in almost a decade, the Supreme Court of Canada is considering the vital question of Indigenous peoples' right to own and control their traditional lands and resources. The outcome of the Tsilhqot'in title case could have far reaching implications in Canada, and possibly around the world. This forum will examine the way Canadian constitutional and international human rights law are converging  in this landmark case. Speakers include prominent lawyers from the case.

    November 04, 2013

    Photo: Tsilhqot'in healer Cecil Grinder

    Good news: the federal government has announced its decision to reject the proposed New Prosperity Mine.

    In October, a scathing environmental impact assessment.concluded that the proposed mine would have “significant” long-term, and irreversible impacts on water quality in Teztan Biny or Fish Lake, on fish habitat, and on wetlands ecosystems and cause “high magnitude, “long-term” and “irreversible” harm to the Tsilhqot’in people who depend on these lands and waters.

    Thank you to everyone who wrote to the federal Minister of the Environment to encourage her to act on the findings of this assessment.

    For more information, please see our update.

    If you would like to send a letter commending the federal government for its decision, the Minister's address is below.

    Salutation: Dear Minister

    November 01, 2013

     

    David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
    Centennial Building
    P.O. Box 6000
    Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

     Dear Premier Alward:

    Our organizations are deeply concerned by the Province of New Brunswick’s response to anti-fracking protests at the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Nation. We are appreciative of the efforts of all involved to allow a cooling off period following the violence of October 17. However, it is our view that this clash could have been avoided had the province acted in a manner consistent with its obligations to respect the human rights of Indigenous peoples under Canadian and international law. Furthermore, we are concerned that unless the province adopts an approach consistent with these obligations, further clashes may occur.

    October 22, 2013

    People who have been harmed by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies overseas may soon be able to bring their cases to Canada.

    Today, 23 Canadian organizations and their international allies issued a call to action to Members of Parliament, and all Canadians, to ensure that victims of Canadian corporate abuse abroad can access justice in Canada.

    The call to action addresses two key barriers to justice: weak out-of-court mechanisms, and obstacles to suing in Canadian courts.

    “It is time for Canada to create a mandatory extractive- sector Ombudsman and to legislate access to courts for people who are harmed by the overseas operations of Canadian oil, mining and gas companies,” said Emily Dwyer, Coordinator of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA).

    Canada’s voluntary Extractive-Sector CSR Counsellor has proved hopelessly ineffective since the Office was established in 2009.

    October 21, 2013

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

    The United Nation’s top expert on the human rights of Indigenous peoples says Canada is facing a “crisis” which must be addressed.

    James Anaya visited Canada this month as part of a fact-finding mission. At a press conference to conclude his visit, the Special Rapporteur said,

    “The well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several years, treaty and aboriginals claims remain persistently unresolved, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust among aboriginal peoples toward government at both the federal and provincial levels.”

    The Special Rapporteur went on to note that while “Canada consistently ranks near the top among countries with respect to human development standards… aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds.”

    Some of the specific examples raised by the Special rapporteur included:

    October 21, 2013

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

    Amnesty International is following with concern the police and government response to anti-fracking protests by the Elsipogtog Mi'kmaq Nation in New Brunswick.

    Like so many disputes around the lands and resources of Indigenous peoples in Canada, this conflict could have been avoided by a rigorous commitment on the part of government to respect and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples as set out in Canadian and international law.

    Three fundamental principles must be observed.

    October 18, 2013

    In response to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta decision in Omar Khadr’s case on 18 October 2013, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) Secretary General Alex Neve noted the following:

     Amnesty International has, for years, pressed US authorities and Canadian authorities to recognize Omar Khadr’s status as a child soldier and to ensure that he is treated according to international legal standards meant to protect and rehabilitate child soldiers.  The organization has been deeply disappointed that no steps have been taken by Canadian corrections officials to do so, despite the fact that Omar Khadr has now been in custody in Canada for over one year at two different institutions.  Granting this court application could have been a significant step towards righting those wrongs.  Amnesty International continues to remind the Canadian government of its obligations under international human rights standards dealing with child soldiers and calls on authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that he is treated in full conformity with those important obligations.

    October 16, 2013

    On 10 October 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada held a public hearing on the extremely important case of Mohamed Harkat, regarding the constitutionality of Canada’s security certificate system. A secret hearing at an undisclosed location (perhaps the first in the history of the Supreme Court of Canada) took place on 11 October.

    Back in 2007, Canada’s highest court had ruled that the system was unconstitutional, and it was revised by Parliament the following year. One of the main changes to the law was the addition of “Special Advocates” – lawyers who have full access to the evidence brought by the government, but who are restricted in several ways, including in their communications with the person whose rights are at stake.

    October 10, 2013

    By Aubrey Harris, Coordinator for the Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    Today, 10 October, is World Day Against the Death Penalty. This year abolitionist groups from around the world are focussed on efforts to abolish the death penalty in the Caribbean. Amnesty International released a report today also detailing one of the biggest myths of death penalty supporters - the claim of deterrence.

    In Canada though we have another special reason to celebrate this October 10th. It is the first October 10th in five years in which Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall is not facing possible execution.

    October 10, 2013

    OpenMedia.ca is joining with more than 30 major organizations and over a dozen leading experts to launch the largest pro-privacy coalition in Canadian history. With Parliament set to resume, the Protect Our Privacy Coalition has banded together to ensure Canadians get effective legal measures to protect their privacy against government intrusion.

    The broad-based coalition includes organizations and individuals from a wide range of political perspectives, including citizen-based groups, civil liberties groups, privacy advocates, right-leaning organizations, First Nations groups, labour groups, small businesses. LGBT groups and academic experts, all of whom have signed onto the statement:

    “More than ever, Canadians need strong, genuinely transparent, and properly enforced safeguards to secure privacy rights. We call on Government to put in place effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.”

    October 08, 2013

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    "Perhaps the one positive thing coming out of all I have been through is to know that there are so many good people in the world, like the members of Amnesty International, willing to stand up for other people."

    – Omar Khadr, Edmonton Institution, October 5, 2013

    October 07, 2013

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

    Over the next week, the United Nation’s top expert on the human rights of Indigenous peoples will be meeting with government officials and First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations, communitie,s and activists across Canada.

    In his mandate as Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya has carried out research missions to developed and developing countries around the world and published reports on the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Russian Federation, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Botswana, Namibia, Republic of the Congo, Nepal, and New Caledonia, among others.

    October 07, 2013

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

    Today, October 7th, is an important moment to reflect on Canada’s long unfulfilled promise to respect the land rights of Indigenous peoples.

    Two hundred and fifty years ago today, on October 7th, 1763, King George of England formally proclaimed that even as the British Crown asserted its control over North America, Indigenous peoples’ lands would continue to be protected for their use.

    The Royal Proclamation of 1763 set out a clear commitment that non-Indigenous peoples’ access to the lands of Indigenous peoples would only take place if the Indigenous nations “should be inclined” to sell or cede their lands to the Crown.

    The Proclamation is not merely an historic document.

    October 03, 2013

    On November 4-5 2013, Amnesty International Canada will be intervening in a case at the Court of Appeal for Ontario:  Minister of Justice of Canada v Hassan Naim Diab. Our role is as “friend of the Court,” in which we present arguments about the legal test that should be applied to extradition decisions. Lorne Waldman is acting as our counsel.

    Mr. Diab is a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin currently subject to extradition proceedings by the Republic of France, in connection with his alleged role in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue in which four people were killed and scores injured. The decision to surrender Mr. Diab to France is being challenged by Mr. Diab’s counsel on a number of grounds, including the risk that Mr. Diab will be denied the right to fundamental justice by reason of France’s alleged use of anonymous, unsourced and uncircumstanced evidence that may have been obtained by torture.

    September 25, 2013

    Joint News Release from Control Arms Coalition -  Oxfam Canada, Project Ploughshares, Amnesty International, Oxfam Québec 

    Ottawa – The Canadian members of the Control Arms Coalition today welcomed the United States decision to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, a global effort to reduce loss of life from the unregulated trade in weapons and ammunition. Oxfam Canada, Project Ploughshares, Amnesty International and Oxfam Québec also expressed frustration and disappointment at Canada’s failure to sign on.

    “Canada has a moral responsibility to help protect the lives of innocent civilians, particularly women and children”, said Lina Holguin, Policy Director for Oxfam Québec. “Why is Canada withholding its signature on a treaty that aims to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and mercenaries? It is incomprehensible.”

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