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    August 10, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the release of Lim Hyeon-soo to receive urgent medical treatment. The Canadian pastor and humanitarian worker has been detained in North Korea for the past two and a half years.

    He was convicted of “plotting to overthrow the government” and sentenced to life in prison with hard labour in December 2015 after spending almost one year in detention. The Canadian government has confirmed that Lim Hyeon-soo will be soon be reunited with his family in Canada. According to North Korean state media, Lim Hyeon-soo was released “on sick bail” for “humanitarian reasons”.

    He had developed a host of health problems including malnutrition, high blood pressure, arthritis, and stomach problems as a side effect of medicine that was not properly administered prior to his release. International civil society and governments have been pressuring North Korea to release Lim Hyeon-soo and to allow him to return to Canada. His release took place amid high military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was previously imprisoned in North Korea and returned to the United States in a coma.

    August 08, 2017

    Amnesty International is calling for concrete action to improve the situation of Indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees as Canada prepares for a review before the UN Committee in the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    Canada’s human rights record is reviewed at roughly five year intervals by the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  In a submission to this independent, expert body, Amnesty International welcomed the substantial changes in tone under the Trudeau government and the significant initiatives already made in a number of areas. However, Amnesty International also raised very serious concerns about a persistent failure to put key human rights commitments into action and, some cases, blatant disregard the human rights protections provided in both Canadian and international law.

    August 07, 2017

    By Jackie McVicar, Atlantic Region Solidarity Network

    Bev Sellars is constantly reminded about the deeply personal, social and cultural loss that she and others in her community of Williams Lake have suffered since the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014. A few weeks ago, when the former Chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, British Columbia was forced to evacuate her home because of the raging wildfires, she looked around and wondered what to take.

    August 04, 2017

    Three years after Canada’s largest mine waste disaster, communities in the Cariboo-Central Interior of British Columbia learned that the Province will not lay any charges under the BC Environmental Management Act. Instead, residents will have to wait for the Federal government to decide whether to lay charges under the Fisheries Act. In the meantime, the Mount Polley disaster continues to put peoples’ rights at risk.

    “There has been serious trauma experienced by the communities who today are afraid to eat the salmon and other fish from the lakes, rivers and creeks contaminated by the mine disaster. Our lives and livelihoods have been put at risk and the company continues to pump waste into these already fragile watersheds,” says Kanahus Manuel, from the Secwepemc Women Warriors.

    On August 4, people and communities from Tofino to the Arctic to Labrador will participate in solidarity actions to remember the Mount Polley mine disaster and the watersheds at risk using the hashtag #SisterStreams.

    August 03, 2017

    Yesterday, the newly elected government of British Columbia sent the Site C dam to the provincial utilities commission for a long overdue review of whether or not the destructive $8.8 billion-plus mega-project is necessary and economically viable.

    In announcing the review, Energy Minister Michelle Mungall told the provincial legislature that a final decision on whether the project is allowed to proceed will be based on this review “along with other environmental and First Nations considerations.”

    Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International Canada said, “It’s crucial to remember that the Site C dam was pushed ahead without ever addressing the crucial question of whether it would violate the Treaty rights of First Nations in the Peace River region. A series of court cases left the matter unresolved, putting it back in the hands of politicians to do their duty to protect the Constitutionally-protected rights of Indigenous peoples. We welcome this latest indication that the province of BC is now prepared to uphold this essential legal and moral obligation.”

    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.  

    The Peace River

    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.


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