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    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 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,

    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 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

    April 13, 2017

    By: Marium Yousuf

    On a beautiful, crisp sunny day last weekend, Amnesty International, Sojurn House, Culture Link and the Centre for Victims of Torture held an event in Toronto to mark Canada’s Refugee Rights Day (April 4). The tone was deliberately celebratory, with performances from the Nai Syrian Kids Choir, poet Ama Luna and poet/singer, song-writer Ruth Mathiang that left the audience captivated all afternoon.

    The Nai Syrian Kids Choir immediately captured everyone’s attention as they streamed through the room in their yellow uniforms. Ranging between the ages from 6-12, it was hard to imagine that these smiling young faces had experienced war and loss, having recently resettled in Canada as Syrian refugees. The Choir is an initiative of Culture Link and serves as a space for children to deal with their loss, grief and hope through music, while their parents practice conversational English with ESL teachers. Their performances did not disappoint: singing songs in Arabic, French and English, while their beaming parents cheered them on.

    April 03, 2017
    A refugee in Montreal looks out a window over the city

    By Gloria Nafziger: Refugee Coordinator Amnesty International

    “It was like Donald Trump had awakened a dormant volcano that was ready to erupt at any time; and I didn’t want to be a part of it”

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.  This is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1985 Singh decision, which recognized that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects refugees' fundamental rights.  The Court decided that refugee claimants are included in the Charter sentence: ‘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.’ 

    This means that, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and international law, refugees who enter Canada from the United States and make a refugee claim are entitled to an oral hearing.

    January 24, 2017

    Amnesty International is pressing the Canadian government to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage during 2017. The call comes as we release our annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2016 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings.

    January 23, 2017

    Amnesty International is pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage during 2017, the 150th year of Canadian Confederation.  Significantly, 2017 is also the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Act.  The call comes as the organization releases its annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2016 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings, particularly the failure to uphold the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who continue to suffer serious human rights violations in the shadow of Canada's colonial legacy.

    October 19, 2016

    Canada must put human rights at the forefront of its approach to national security by adopting a rights-based framework in its upcoming reform of current laws, policy and practices, says an Amnesty International policy brief released today. 

    “For too long, Canadians have been presented with the false and misleading notion that inescapable trade-offs must be made between protection of human rights and ensuring Canadians are kept safe from security threats,” said Alex Neve. “By adopting a human rights-based framework for national security, Canada can demonstrate leadership in addressing grave human rights shortcomings in its current approach while also better ensuring the overall security of its citizens.”

    Amnesty International’s policy brief outlines five guiding principles to form the basis of a human rights-based framework to national security and calls for a number of existing laws and policies to be repealed or reformed.

    April 11, 2016

     

    The numbers are staggering. Some six million people have been forced to flee their homes in Colombia during decades of armed conflict characterized by horrendous human rights violations against civilians.

    In the process, at least 8 million hectares of land have been abandoned or misappropriated.

    At the same time, Colombian authorities have granted licences to mining and other companies looking to exploit these lands and their natural resources, failing to guarantee the internationally-recognized right of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples to decision-making about their territory without fear of harm.

    March 09, 2016

    On March 7  the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) issued a brief news release reporting the death of a person held for immigration related reasons at the Toronto East Detention Centre.  The name of the person and circumstances surrounding the death are not known.

    This death once again shines a spotlight on what has been described as the ‘legal black hole’ of Canada’s immigration detention regime.  At least 13 people are known to have died in the custody of CBSA and its predecessor since 2000. Reports of a death or mistreatment of individuals while in immigration detention are alarming as there is no independent agency with a mandate for the oversight of CBSA. CBSA is the only major Canadian law enforcement agency which has  no independent oversight.

    May 04, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeve Amnesty

    Amnesty International has reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel  regarding Public Diplomacy Cooperation ( MOU) which was concluded between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries on 18 January, 2015.

    Gender, Indigenous rights, and energy development in northeast British Columbia, Canada

    Join Amnesty International's new campaign to make sure the safety and wellness of Indigenous women and girls in northeast BC, Canada, an area with massive hydroelectric, oil, gas, and coal projects, is not #OutofSightOutofMind! 

     

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