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Canada

    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.

    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.

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