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Canada

    September 19, 2013

    In presenting a deeply disappointing report today at the UN Human Rights Council, outlining Canada’s response to a review of the country’s human rights record carried out in April 2013, the Canadian government has squandered a valuable opportunity to move forward in addressing important national human rights concerns and to demonstrate human rights leadership on the world stage.

    Canada was reviewed under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process on April 26 and 30.  Other countries, including many of Canada’s closest allies, highlighted a wide range of concerns and made recommendations to Canada regarding steps to improve human rights protection in the country.

    September 12, 2013

    Six years ago – on September 13, 2007 – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous Peoples around the world.

    The UN Declaration recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and calls for the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all decisions potentially affecting their land. The Declaration urges partnership and collaboration between states and Indigenous Peoples. It sets out the requirement of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to protect the right of Indigenous Peoples to make decisions about whether and when development should proceed.

    Implementation of the UN Declaration remains critical as Indigenous Peoples around the world continue to face exploitation of the natural resources of their territories. FPIC and other rights affirmed in the UN Declaration provide indispensable safeguards as Indigenous Peoples struggle to overcome a history of discrimination, marginalization and
    dispossession.

    September 12, 2013

    Indigenous Peoples’, human rights, and faith organizations are calling on Canada to ensure that Indigenous Peoples can freely decide for themselves whether and when resource development projects will take place on their traditional lands and territories.

    In a statement released on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ and civil society organizations say it is time to end the colonial practice of imposing development decisions on Indigenous peoples.

    August 22, 2013

    Toronto - Organizations representing more than one million people across Ontario are calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to a make a clear and unequivocal commitment that the province will respect the wishes of the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) that no new logging permits be issued in their traditional territory.

    The province is currently engaged in five year long talks with Grassy Narrows over the management of their traditional lands in the Whiskey Jack forest, north of Kenora. Last year, while the talks were in progress, the Ministry of Natural Resources unilaterally adopted a ten year forest management direction for Grassy Narrows Territory that included no meaningful recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and perpetuated the model of industrial clear-cutting that first sparked an ongoing blockade at Grassy Narrows a decade ago.

    In June, a wide range of human rights, faith, labour and environmental organizations wrote to the Premier urging her to call an end to unwanted logging permits on Grassy Narrows lands as a good faith demonstration of the province’s commitment to a forest management approach that respects Aboriginal rights.

    August 19, 2013

    Capital Pride and Amnesty International are holding a Human Rights Vigil on Thursday August 22nd from 8:00–9:00pm at the Human Rights Monument, located on Elgin Street at Lisgar Street. The vigil will honour the many LGBTI people globally who have faced persecution, violence, and in many cases death because of their sexuality or gender identity.

    Leading LGBTI activists will speak about how difficult it is to “Be Loud, Be Proud” in many parts of the world, and a sneak peek at a new documentary film on homophobia in Jamaica will be screened. The names of those whose lives have been lost to homophobia in the past year will be read out, followed by a moment of silence.

    A contrast to the fun-filled parade and some of the other events during Capital Pride, the Human Rights Vigil serves as a reminder that for people in many parts of the world it is not possible to “Be Loud, Be Proud,” and there is much work left to be done to ensure that the human rights of LGBTI individuals the world over are protected.

    July 24, 2013

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

    July 24, 2013

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing to you on behalf of Voices-Voix, a coalition of more than 200 national and local civil society organizations across the country.  We are seriously concerned about recent reports that your office had instructed government officials to compile “friend and enemy stakeholder” lists as part of the process of preparing briefing materials for new members of Cabinet. 

    July 24, 2013

    Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Independent journalist Maggie Padlewska is the midst of a one year project to document under-reported stories in communities around the world. In May, her One Year, One World project took her to the northern British Columbia First Nation of Nak'azdli at a crucial moment for that community.

    A large gold and copper mine is under construction on lands where the Nak'azdli people hunt, fish, trap and gather berries and medicines. When Maggie visited Nak'azdli, the community, which had no say in the decision to open the mine, was holding a sacred ceremony to pray for their land and for the safety of the mine workers.

    Maggie's short video, The Farewell Ceremony, tells the powerful and moving story of a community that remains determined to protect their culture and way of life.

    July 23, 2013

    Your support for Amnesty International has helped us achieve a legal victory in Canada that could have far reaching and live-saving implications for refugees who seek asylum in Canada and elsewhere.

    In July 2013, Canada’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Canada, ruled in the case of Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola, a case that grapples with the thorny issue of who can be excluded from refugee status. Their unanimous decision has brought Canada’s interpretation fully into line with international law.

    Amnesty’s first-rate team of pro bono lawyers, comprised of Michael Bossin, Laïla Demirdache and Chantal Tie, assisted by our Legal Coordinator Anna Shea, laid out our position in arguments before the Court back in January 2013. We've waited six months for the decision.

    July 19, 2013

    On 19 July 2013, Amnesty International welcomed an important decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in the case of Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola.  The unanimous judgment, written by Justices LeBel and Fish, brings Canada’s interpretation of the UN Refugee Convention into line with international law.

    by Anna Shea and Gloria Nafziger

    Supreme Court Ruling in Ezokola case

    Mr. Ezokola had a long career with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2008 he resigned from his position at the Permanent Mission of the DRC at the UN in New York and fled to Canada with his family, seeking refugee protection.  He stated that he could no longer work for a government which he considered corrupt, violent and antidemocratic. 

    June 24, 2013

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that for the second year in a row, the Canadian government’s required report to Parliament about human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) fails to contain any analysis about human rights realities in Colombia.

    The Canadian government report fails to acknowledge widespread, grave human rights violations in Colombia – including ongoing threats and deadly attacks on trade unionists and community leaders seeking the return of stolen lands, as well as Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities and rural farmers living in areas coveted for their natural resources.

    Notably, the report also excludes any information about Canadian investment in Colombia in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

    June 13, 2013

    Ottawa, June 13, 2013 –  Canadian civil society organizations that have worked together for the adoption of mandatory corporate accountability measures for almost a decade, join together to welcome Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement in London yesterday that Canada will be establishing new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian extractive companies.

    This is the first time the Prime Minister has voiced support for mandatory reporting in Canada on the international operations of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies. Amnesty International, Halifax Initiative, InterPares, KAIROS Canada, MiningWatch Canada and the United Steelworkers are encouraged by this step forward.

    “This is welcome news,” said Fiona Koza, Business and Human Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International. “For years we have been urging the Government of Canada to move beyond mere voluntary measures.”

    June 12, 2013

    (Ottawa) In a deeply troubling and unprecedented turn of events, Canada put forth text at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday which ignores an important need of rape survivors and fails to take account of recent international progress in tackling violence against women around the world.

    Since 1994, Canada has led the negotiation of resolutions on violence against women in the UN Human Rights Council (and before 2006 the UN Commission on Human Rights), making the resolution progressively stronger each year. As such, it is all the more disappointing that this year’s draft resolution is so weak on the importance of sexual and reproductive health as an essential element in efforts to address violence against women.

    June 12, 2013

     A group of organizations focused on civil liberties, pro-democracy, privacy rights, and open access to the Internet have joined to together to demand answers and immediate action from the government after it was revealed that a secretive government agency has been spying on the telephone and Internet activities of individuals, including law-abiding Canadians.

    The organizations speaking out today include Amnesty International Canada, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BCFIPA), Council of Canadians, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Leadnow, OpenMedia.ca, Privacy & Access Council of Canada, the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). OpenMedia.ca worked with many of these same organizations to host the StopSpying.ca campaign that successfully defeated the government’s online spying bill C-30.

    June 05, 2013

    Human rights violations in China and Colombia are on the agenda at two public events on Saturday June 8th as activists from across Canada meet at Saint Paul University for the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch from June 7 - 9.

    The struggle to bring democracy and human rights protection in China will be the topic for a keynote address by Michel Cormier at the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International Canada at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Michel Cormier will give a talk in the auditorium of the university on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

    May 29, 2013

    A report released on May 28 in Canada by the federal Privacy Commissioner highlights a troubling pattern of invasive and unwarranted government surveillance of Canadian human rights defender Cindy Blackstock.

    Dr. Blackstock is the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, a prominent and highly-respected non-governmental organization promoting equitable access to education, health care and other services for First Nations children.
     

    Human Rights Defender under surveillance in Canada

    Government documents obtained by Dr. Blackstock show that two federal departments monitored her personal Facebook page, tracked people who posted to her page, and sent staff to take notes on her public presentations, all in an attempt to find information that might help the government fight a discrimination complaint that Dr. Blackstock’s organization is pursuing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

    The Privacy Commissioner concluded that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice went too far in their online monitoring of Dr. Blackstock.

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