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    May 27, 2013

    Amnesty International and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) are appearing as interveners in an Ontario Court today in support of a precedent-setting Charter challenge to governments’ failures to adequately address the homelessness crisis in Canada.  The legal challenge 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.

    May 23, 2013

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

     

    Anne Marie Sam of the Nak'azdli First Nation stands near her great-grandfather's grave on the shores of the Nation River and points to Mt. Milligan, site of a gold and copper mine now under construction.

    Walking up the long dusty road to where the Mt Milligan gold and copper mine is now under construction, Anne Marie Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation describes the many ways – including hunting, fishing and gathering plant medicines – that her family has lived on the land that is now consumed by the mine’s footprint.

    “This mine,” she says, “means that my children will not have the opportunity to grow up experiencing that same connection to the land.”

    The Mt. Milligan mine, located northwest of Prince George in British Columbia is expected to begin operation this year and to continue production for at least 22 more years.

    The mine affects lands, rivers and streams that are the subject of unresolved legal claims involving four First Nations, including Nak’azdli, which has never entered into a treaty with Canada.  In their traditions, the people of Naka’zdli follow a Keyoh system in which responsibility to care for specific areas of the territory are handed down with the family from one generation to the next. The Mt. Milligan mine development consumes most of Anne Marie Sam’s family Keyoh.

    The mine development was approved by environmental assessments carried out by the provincial and federal governments. The federal assessment acknowledged the importance of Indigenous peoples’ multigenerational use and traditional management of the land. Nonetheless, the assessment concluded that the mine would not cause significant harm because this use could resume some day in the future after mining ends.

    May 16, 2013

    Amnesty International welcomed the June 2012 Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture (“the Committee”) following its examination of Canada’s sixth periodic report.1
    We submit this follow-up briefing to assist the Committee in identifying ongoing areas of concern related to the priorities for follow-up.

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned about Canada’s lack of progress in implementing the 2012 recommendations of the Committee. With the exception of Omar Khadr’s return from
    the US Naval base in Guantánamo Bay in September 2012, following the Canadian authorities’ long-delayed approval of his transfer, the recommendations presented in Paragraphs 12, 13, 16 and 17 of the Committee’s Concluding Observations remain unimplemented. We have also commented on the recommendation in Paragraph 25 with respect to ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

    April 29, 2013

    (Geneva) Many of Canada’s closest diplomatic allies and trading partners are urging the federal government to do more to address the serious human rights issues facing First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

    On Friday, Canada’s human rights record was examined in a peer review process under the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    During the process, called the Universal Periodic Review, more than 80 states offered comments and recommendations on Canada’s human rights record. The vast majority of state comments related to persistent human rights violations experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada.  These include violation of land rights, inequalities in education, health, drinking water and sanitation, food insecurity, control over lands and resources, and racial discrimination.

    April 25, 2013

    Amnesty International’s 18th Annual Media Awards will be held today at the Royal Ontario Museum  from 5:30 – 8:00 pm with master of ceremonies Judy Maddren, former host of CBC World Report. Amnesty International’s Media Awards recognize the tremendous efforts of journalists to provide crucial information to Canadians on human rights issues from around the world.  Their reporting provides a vital link to mobilizing publication and the protection of rights for all.

    Issues covered include the ravages of prescription drug addiction in First Nations communities, the pain and trauma of children born of war, the flight from discrimination of Roma now safely living in Canada, and the exploitation of residential school survivors are all explored in excellent pieces of journalism.

    April 23, 2013

    Human rights for Canada’s most vulnerable groups will be under scrutiny this week in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council. On Friday 26 April the Council will examine Canada’s human rights record in the second UN Universal Periodic Review.  The first review of all UN Member States, in the process that began in 2006, was completed in 2011. In advance of the second review Amnesty International has submitted a detailed submission outlining concerns about Canada’s record.

    “This important review of Canada’s record must address human rights issues for Indigenous Peoples,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada.  “The rising inequality of women and trends in sexual violence, arbitrary detention and forced return of migrants, concerns regarding torture, plus excessive policing during protests also demand scrutiny. A positive and constructive attitude from Canada would help improve human rights protection in Canada and set a positive example for other countries to follow.”

    April 11, 2013

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Amnesty International's Major Campaigns and Women's Human Rights Campaigner.

    “We can start with our future, our children, teach them love instead of hate… Violence, it’s easy to teach violence and hate. Turn that around and teach love, empathy, and we wouldn’t be here today grieving.”
    – Glen Wilson, Father of CJ Morningstar Fowler, a 16-year-old member of the Gitanmaax First Nation, whose body was found outside Kamloops, British Columbia, in December 2012.
     

    April 09, 2013

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

    My Neighbour: Hamid Ghassemi-Shall

    I live in Toronto's east end, a neighbourhood known as Leslieville. It's between The Beach and Riverdale (where Degrassi was set). My neighbourhood is typically urban. There are a lot of streetcars, buses and older houses. The local elementary school is old enough to have an honour roll of former students who paid with their lives during the Great War and World War II. I didn't grow up here (I grew up in London, ON) - but I quite like this neighbourhood - and I've lived in a few around Toronto.

    April 05, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Canadian citizen Aaron Yoon is detained at a prison in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  An Amnesty International researcher interviewed him in prison during an Amnesty International mission to the country in July 2012. 

    At that time Mr. Yoon very clearly indicated that he did not want Amnesty International to take up or campaign on his case.  Amnesty International respects the wishes of prisoners with respect to what action they do or do not want the organization to take on their behalf.  As a result we have not campaigned on Mr. Yoon’s case in any way.

    Amnesty International has since confirmed that Mr. Yoon was brought to trial on terrorism-related charges in the summer of 2012 and sentenced to a two year prison sentence, beginning from the time of his arrest in December 2011.  As such he should be slated for release in December 2013.

    April 04, 2013

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.

    This day marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1985 Singh decision. In this decision the Supreme Court found that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the fundamental rights of refugees. The Court decided that where the Charter declares ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice;’  ‘everyone’ includes refugees.

    Today the Canadian Council for Refugees and other organizations across Canada announced the launch of a campaign designed to transform the conversation about refugees in Canada. Under the banner ‘Proud to Protect Refugees’, they are dedicated to new efforts to promote a positive vision of what we want for refugees and of the important contributions refugees make to our  communities.

    They are calling on all Canadians to show their pride in protecting refugees.

    March 22, 2013

    The Honourable Vic Toews
    Minister of Public Safety
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

    March 21, 2013

    Dear Minister,

    We are writing to you regarding decisions made by the Ministry of Public Safety with respect to the recent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) raids at construction sites in Vancouver. According to federal access to information documents, on June 7, 2011 your signature and approval were given to Force Four Entertainment’s proposal to produce a reality television series focused on the work of the CBSA. On March 13, 2013, the arrest of several undocumented workers in Vancouver was filmed and broadcast.

    March 04, 2013

    The United Nations was presented today with a new report today outlining serious concerns regarding hunger and food insecurity in Canada, one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The report, written by independent expert, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, makes several concrete recommendations for strengthening protection of the human right to food in Canada. Human rights organizations present in Geneva, expressed deep disappointment that the government focused primarily on criticizing and dismissing the report and made no commitment to move ahead with any of the constructive recommendations.

    The report comes from De Schutter’s official mission to Canada, in May 2012. It represents his first visit to a country in the Global North – where serious levels of hunger and poverty are least expected.

    February 27, 2013

    On 14 February 2013, Amnesty International Canada was granted leave to intervene in an important and precedent-setting corporate accountability case.

    The case is being brought against Canadian company HudBay Minerals and its subsidiaries, involving allegations of gross human rights violations that took place in Guatemala in 2007 and 2009. Maya-Q’eqchi’ villagers from eastern Guatemala claim that security personnel employed by HudBay’s local subsidiary shot and killed school-teacher and anti-mining activist Adolfo Ich Chamán, shot and paralyzed youth German Chub Choc, and gang-raped 11 Maya-Q’eqchi’ women.

    The defendant companies brought motions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, on the basis that a parent company can never owe a duty of care to those who may be murdered, harmed or raped by security personnel employed by the company’s subsidiary in a foreign country. Originally, the defendants had also claimed that these lawsuits could not be heard in Canada, but they recently and unexpectedly dropped this argument.

    February 22, 2013

    On February 25, 2013, the Government of Canada will appear before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to face 14 weeks of hearings to determine if its flawed and inequitable First Nations child and family services program is discriminatory.

    The federal government controls and funds child and family services on reserves where as the provinces and territories do so for other children. The Auditor General of Canada and other expert reports confirm that the federal government's funding and program approaches to child and family services, including the more recent enhanced funding approach, are flawed and inequitable.

    There is clear evidence linking the inequality in services to hardship among First Nations families and to the growing numbers of First Nations children in care. Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society said, "This generation of First Nations children deserve an equal chance to grow up safely at home - something the Federal Government deprived many of their parents and grandparents of during the residential school era."

    February 21, 2013

    Recent comments by the RCMP concerning the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada do a great disservice by creating uncertainty, where clarity and urgency are required. The lives of Indigenous women and girls count. These are some well-document facts and figures about violence against Aboriginal women in Canada:

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