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Amnesty International and Assembly of First Nations appeal for Canadian government attention to emergency facing Indigenous peoples amidst resource extraction in Colombia

    April 28, 2014

    (Ottawa, ON) – Two weeks before the Canadian government must submit its 2014 report on the human rights effects of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Amnesty International and the Assembly of First Nations will hold a press conference to speak out about the worsening human rights emergency that threatens the very survival of scores of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, many living in areas earmarked for resource extraction.

    The press conference in Ottawa comes a day after Indigenous, labour and environmental organizations in Bogota, Colombia make public a report expressing concern about the impact of Canadian mining projects and underscoring the responsibilities of Canada to ensure Canadian-based companies uphold human rights.

    Earlier this month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ representative in Colombia, Todd Howland, warned that 40 of the 102 Indigenous nations in Colombia are at risk of extinction. Indigenous organizations have signaled that many others are faced with destruction.  All agree that the imposition of mining projects without human rights guarantees is a key factor in this emergency. One of the purposes of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is to promote access to Colombia for Canadian extractive companies. To date, annual human rights reports prepared by the Canadian government, as required by the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, have failed to say anything about the human rights situation for Indigenous peoples or to examine the record of Canadian resource extraction companies in Colombia.

    What:  Press Conference and Photo Opportunity

    Who:   Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International and 
    Ghislain Picard, Quebec/Labrador Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

    Where: Charles Lynch Room 130S Centre Block, Parliament

    When:  Tuesday April 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM
     

    Photo Opportunity:
    Immediately following the press conference, journalists are invited to a colourful photo op on the steps outside Centre Block where photo messages sent by concerned Canadians and threatened Colombian Indigenous people will be displayed. The photo messages will be delivered to Canada’s Foreign Minister together with thousands of appeals from concerned Canadians who call on Canada to use its close relationship with Colombia to protect the rights and survival of threatened Indigenous peoples in the South American country. 

    The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

    For more information, please contact:
    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International Media Relations: 416-904-7158 - bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca
    Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer: 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 - agaron@afn.ca