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    July 26, 2017

    Amnesty International is standing with the Inuit people of Clyde River in celebrating a Supreme Court ruling that represents a victory not only for this community and its future, but an important opportunity to bring Canadian law in line with international human rights standards.

    The case is about a decision by the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) to allow a group of multinational corporations to carry out oil and gas exploration off Baffin Island. The Hamlet of Clyde River and the Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization alleged that the government regulatory body failed to properly involve community members in the decision-making process and did not giver adequate attention to Inuit concerns over the impact of seismic testing on the marine animals on which their food, economy and culture depend.

    In a unanimous decision released today, the Supreme Court overturned the approval for seismic testing, finding that the “significantly flawed” decision-making process did not meet the standard of consultation required by the Constitutional protection of Inuit rights.

    July 25, 2017

     “The Panel is convinced that the Tsilhqot’in cultural attachment to Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) and the Nabas areas is so profound that they cannot reasonably be expected to accept the conversion of that area into the proposed New Prosperity mine.” – Report of the Federal Environmental Review panel that led to the 2014 rejection of the proposed “New Prosperity Mine”

    Amnesty International stands with the Tsilhqot’in people in calling on the BC government to immediately rescind work permits that would allow destructive mineral exploration activities in the vitally important Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and Nabas areas.

    July 10, 2017

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that farm families in northeast British Columbia face the imminent threat of destruction of their homes to make way for a dam that may never be completed.

    Although flooding of the Peace River Valley is years away – and may never happen if the incoming provincial government cancels construction of the Site C dam or if significant, outstanding First Nations concerns are finally addressed – a number of farm families face threat of immediate destruction of their homes and lands to allow the relocation of portions of the main road through the valley.

    In our view, the circumstances surrounding the construction of the Site C dam are such that any eviction or destruction of homes at this point would breach international human rights standards that all governments in Canada are obligated to uphold.

    International law recognizes that there are instances when individuals may need to be displaced from their land for a larger public benefit. However, strict standards are required to protect the rights of those individuals and prevent abuse of power by government.

    July 10, 2017

    By Alex Neve

    To be here – to see, listen, learn and feel this place – the enormity of what is at stake with the construction of the Site C Dam and why it is so crucial that it be stopped is everywhere.

    It shines through in the Valley’s beauty; serene and majestic at the same time.  My first views of the Peace River were from lookouts offering sweeping views of a magnificent valley painted with more shades of green than I knew existed, always with the curving ribbon of water flowing through.  Each panorama was unbelievably more breathtaking than the last; topped by an early morning viewing that offered a low-hanging bank of mist that hugged the curves of the valley in ways that felt both mystic and mysterious.  

    July 07, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomed the official announcement today from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould that settlement has been reached with respect to Omar Khadr’s lawsuit. Mr. Khadr has received compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for the troubling role that Canadian officials played in the serious human rights violations he experienced while held by US forces at Guantánamo Bay between 2002 and 2012.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada noted,

    July 06, 2017

    "We will continue to bring unrelenting opposition to a project that can only be described as an unqualified disaster." -Chief Lynette Tsakoza, Prophet River responding to Supreme Court of Canada ruling closing off one part to justice in the Site C struggle

    Whatever your feelings about British Columbia’s Site C dam, whether you think the hydro-electric megaproject is needed or if you think there are better ways to invest in the province’s future, it should be clear that an unacceptable injustice is taking place.

    The 100 km of the Peace River and its tributaries that will be flooded by Site C are part of the territory of Treaty 8, an historic Treaty between First Nations and Canada. Like other Treaties, the rights protected under Treaty 8 are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution. In other words, they are part of the highest law of the land.

    Yet, the federal and provincial governments openly admit that they approved the Site C dam without ever considering whether the “severe”, “permanent” and “irreversible” harms identified by their own environmental assessment would violate Treaty 8.

    July 05, 2017

    The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Amnesty International (AI) and the Canadian Council of Churches announced today that they are launching a legal challenge of the designation of the United States as a safe third country for refugees.

    “The US was never safe for all refugees, and is now even less safe,” said Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “It is wrong, morally and legally, to send claimants back to the US, knowing as we do that they may face serious violations of their basic rights.”

    The three organizations are joining an individual litigant who is asking the Federal Court to strike down the Safe Third Country Agreement and allow her to make a refugee claim in Canada. E. is a Salvadoran woman who fled her country with her daughters after a decade of being targeted by a gang, including most recently death threats. She has strong reasons for believing that she might not be protected if forced to make her refugee claim in the US, rather than Canada.

    July 04, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the news that the Canadian government has apologized to Omar Khadr and compensated him for Canada’s role in his ordeal that began at age 15 with his capture by US forces during a firefight in Afghanistan when he was a child soldier.

    The terms of the settlement provide Omar Khadr with compensation for the many ways that Canadian action and inaction contributed to the serious human rights violations he experienced beginning in 2002, continuing through three months in US detention at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, 10 years of imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay, and two and a half years of further detention in Canadian jails in Ontario and Alberta before he was finally released on bail in May, 2015.

    June 29, 2017

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the announcement that the Supreme Court of Canada will not consider a further appeal of a First Nations challenge to the Site C dam.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations had asked that federal approval of the megaproject be overturned because the decision was made without first considering whether the harm that will be done by the dam would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations. 

    In earlier decisions, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal had concluded that the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act meant that the federal Cabinet had no obligation to consider First Nations concerns over Treaty violations before approving the project – even though Treaty rights are protected in Canadian Constitution and international law.

    June 27, 2017

    Amnesty International (AI) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) released a brief today calling for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.

    The 52-page brief, Contesting the Designation of the US as a Safe Third Country, outlines the many ways that the US asylum system and immigration detention regime fail to meet required international and Canadian legal standards. It highlights how law and practice have deteriorated further since President Donald Trump took office.

    Despite many calls from refugee and human rights organizations and legal academics on both sides of the border following President Trump’s issuance of Executive Orders earlier this year, the Canadian government has repeatedly stated that there is no need to revisit the Agreement. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen has maintained that position following his review of the AI/CCR brief.

    June 21, 2017

    Canadian citizen Hassan Diab has been held without charge in pre-trial detention for over 2 ½ years in France. If he was still in Canada, this long pretrial delay would violate standards established by a recent Supreme Court decision (R v Jordan). It’s time for the Canadian government to stand up for the rights of Hassan Diab and secure his release on bail.

    Hassan Diab has been in detention since his extradition to France in November 2014 to face charges in connection with a 1980 bombing outside a synagogue in Paris. The Ontario Superior Court judge presiding over the extradition case in 2011 expressed significant reservations about the reliability of the evidence and the prospects for a conviction. Rather than moving the case forward, subsequent investigations in France have only cast further doubt and Hassan Diab has yet to be charged with any crime.

    June 20, 2017

    Extensive national security reforms announced by the federal government today, in tabling Bill C-59, the National Security Act, 2017, represent a mix of welcome progress, disappointing tinkering, and lost opportunities.

    Amnesty International had urged that the government use this lengthy and comprehensive review of Canada’s national security framework, including widespread public consultations, to explicitly confirm that Canada approach to national security is grounded in full respect for the Charter of Rights and binding international human rights standards. The organization had recommended that national security laws be amended to explicitly affirm and require that legislation would be interpreted and applied consistent with those obligations. Beyond a preambular reference to according with the rule of law and respecting the Charter, Bill C-59 contains no such provisions.

    June 15, 2017

    The Trans Equality Canada Coalition, a loose coalition of human rights groups and individual activists advocating in support of Bill C-16, applauds the passing today of a law that is an important step toward protecting transgender individuals from violence and discrimination. Bill C-16, which was adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate today, amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code of Canada to explicitly prohibit discrimination and violence on the grounds of gender identity or expression.

    The amendment to the Criminal Code makes trans people an “identifiable group” protected from the crimes of advocating genocide and inciting or willfully promoting hatred, and allows courts to consider bias, prejudice, or hate based on gender identity or expression in the sentencing of hate crimes.

    The amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act brings areas of federal jurisdiction into line with areas of provincial jurisdiction, as all provinces and territories now include trans people in the non-discrimination clauses of their human rights legislation.

    QUOTES

    May 31, 2017

    In reaction to yesterday’s announcement by the British Columbia NDP and Green parties that, if they form an alliance government, they would send the Site C megaproject for review by the independent BC Utilities Commission, Amnesty International Canada’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Craig Benjamin, said:

    May 31, 2017
    George Desjarlais of West Moberly First Nation at Paddle for the Peace

    By Craig Benjamin, Indigenous Rights Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The leaders of the British Columbia NDP and Green parties announced yesterday that when they form the provincial government they will send the Site C megaproject to the independent BC Utilities Commission for a long overdue review.

    Such a review, which will try to determine the province's actual energy needs and whether the cost of Site C is warranted, is widely expected to be the death knell for the $9 billion plus project.

    Critically, however, the province needs to come to terms with the consequences of outgoing Premier Christy Clark's drive to push the dam to what she referred to as “the point of no return.”

    A University of British Columbia study recently concluded that stopping the project is still a better use of money than building a dam that will produce more power than is needed for decades. So far, the ecological harm to the Peace Valley is still reversible.

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