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    November 05, 2020

     

    Workers in the home delivery business were already facing precarious labor conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic. A lack of basic protections for ‘gig economy’ workers in warehouses and home delivery roles has taken on a new urgency as the very workers who ensure that food, medicines, and other essential goods are shipped out on time and delivered to your door are exposed to greater risks to their own health and safety.  

    Amnesty’s new global campaign calls on the most powerful companies in the home delivery sector, starting with Amazon, to guarantee the rights of workers, including health, safety, and labor rights, such as the right to join a union.  

    Why Amazon?  

    November 05, 2020

    By Charlene Scharf, Health Network Co-Coordinator

    As we follow the crest of the second wave, and on the eve of the annual flu season, concerns are rising over the new pressures that will come to bear on the health care system. The vital healthcare workers across the health systems from long term care homes to hospitals and all in between have already faced unprecedented pressures and risks since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was clearly outlined in the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Report highlighting the alarming burden of disease and deaths from COVID-19 which discussed collected data globally in mid-August, 2020. It found that of the 52 national nursing associations in 50 countries, the infection rates for healthcare workers ranged from 1% to 30 % of all COVID-19 cases. The average rate was 10%. An alarming statistic from the study revealed “across 44 countries, there were 1097 deaths among nurses with the possibility of the actual deaths being much higher.”

    October 15, 2020

    Amnesty’s legal team after presenting at the Supreme Court . From left to right: Jennifer Klink, Paul Champ, Penelope Simons

     

    This October, Eritrean plaintiffs reached an out of court settlement in their major corporate accountability lawsuit against Canadian mining company Nevsun Resources. The confidential agreement was reached after years of legal wrangling that spanned three continents.

    The case, filed in British Columbia in November 2014 by former mine workers Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle, alleged that Nevsun was responsible for benefitting from gross human rights abuses such as slavery and forced labour, torture, and crimes against humanity during the construction of its copper, zinc and gold mine in Eritrea.

    October 02, 2020
    An image of Alex Neve sitting on a large concrete sign that say's "Amnesty International"

    35 years ago, on a wintry evening in early 1985, I attended my first Amnesty International meeting.   

    I had just begun studying law at Dalhousie University in Halifax, with an entirely unformed notion of becoming a lawyer pursuing social change. I had seen an intriguing notice on a bulletin board giving details about the monthly meeting of the Halifax Amnesty group. I went, and never looked back.   

    I remember three things about that evening. First, the inspiring and welcoming Amnesty members I met were of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and from many different corners of the world; but were all united in a common sense of purpose and possibility. It was the evening I first heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and our shared responsibility to uphold it.   

    September 29, 2020

    On September 23rd, a new session of Parliament will begin and the government will deliver a Throne Speech, outlining their priorities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated this Throne Speech will be a 'roadmap out of the pandemic towards a society that is fairer and more welcoming.' 

    Amnesty International has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and his cabinet, urging them to implement a genuinely transformative human rights agenda. 

    September 27, 2020
    Amnesty International’s Ethical Battery Project aims to end human rights violations in the production of rechargeable batteries.

    It may surprise you to know that lithium-ion batteries – the kind found in many electronics such as laptops, cell phones and electric cars – contribute to human rights abuses around the world. Over the last few years, Amnesty’s researchers have documented child labour, environmental harms and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the countries where battery minerals are mined. We have challenged the world's leading electronics and automobile makers to develop a battery untainted by human rights abuses.

    We invite you to join our campaign for an ‘ethical’ rechargeable battery.

    September 24, 2020

    Amnesty Canada volunteers are taking action for climate justice. Our new Climate Justice and Corporate Accountability Specialized Team brings together volunteers to collaborate on this exciting and vitally important issue. To join this volunteer team, email edumitru@amnesty.ca.

    Looking for other ways to get involved? Join us next week for an educational and thought-provoking evening entitled Climate Change – What it is and How it Affects us All. Register here.

    And please take a moment to sign Amnesty’s new e-petition to Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change demanding strong climate action that respects human rights. Sign petition.

    Here are some other interesting climate updates:

    September 23, 2020

    Amnesty International will intervene today at the Supreme Court of Canada's carbon pricing hearing. 

    We firmly believe that without robust climate action at all levels of government, the climate crisis will continue to negatively impact a range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, and disproportionately impact marginalized and vulnerable communities and groups.

    Amnesty's intervention at the Supreme Court today will emphasize the fundamental importance of Canada’s international human rights obligations and the need for these commitments to guide Canada’s climate action. We will argue that constitutional ambiguities with respect to division of powers between provincial and federal governments should be resolved in a way that both maximizes Canadian compliance with international obligations and facilitates provincial adherence to our obligations. 

    You can watch the Supreme Court of Canada's live webcast today.

    September 01, 2020

    The climate crisis is a monumental threat to human rights, like nothing humanity has ever experienced before.

    Last year, millions of people marched in climate strikes organized by youth around the world, demanding urgent action to stop the climate crisis.

    The next global climate strike will take place virtually on Friday, Sept 25th and we hope you will get involved!

    Here are five ways to participate in the climate strikes:

    1. Youth climate justice webinar – Join our climate justice webinar on Tuesday September 22nd. More information, bios of the amazing youth climate activists who are the panelists for the event, and the registration link are all here!

    September 01, 2020
    Protesters march on Hiawatha Avenue while decrying the killing of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Amnesty International must honestly and openly confront concerns about anti-Black racism within our organization, historically and currently. We are moving towards meaningfully addressing systemic oppression, internally and externally, beginning with acknowledgment of allegations and harms. 

    Activists against anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada have raised troubling questions about the possible role of Luis Kutner — said to have had leadership roles in the early years of Amnesty International and/or Amnesty International USA — in events that led to 21-year-old Black Panther leader Fred Hampton being shot and killed in December 1969 by the FBI and local police in Chicago.  FBI documents, declassified in 2018, reveal information Kutner provided to the FBI prior to the raid that resulted in Fred Hampton’s murder at the hands of police. 

    September 01, 2020

    The Federal Court of Canada has found, for a second time, that the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement is unconstitutional. It violates section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to life, liberty and security of the person. 

    Under the STCA, refugee claimants must claim protection in the first country in which they arrive in most cases.  The agreement assumes the US is a ‘safe’ country which upholds international human rights and the Refugee Convention.  

    However, Justice Ann Marie McDonald found that refugee claimants returned under the STCA often face arbitrary immigration detention in conditions that “shock the conscience.” She recalled the case of Ms. Mustefa, a refugee claimant who was turned away by Canada under the STCA, only to be locked in solitary confinement in a freezing cold cell and given meals that she could not eat due to her religious beliefs. When Canadian officials return claimants to such conditions, they are complicit in that mistreatment. 

    August 30, 2020

    Communities have been speaking out for decades about how Black people experience policing in Canada. It’s time to listen: racism is not up for debate – it’s systemic.

    Amnesty International unequivocally supports frontline groups and activists in communities across the country who work courageously and tirelessly to expose that systemic racism and demand justice for the growing number of BIPOC who have been wrongly arrested, mistreated or killed by police across Canada.  

    A Comprehensive reform agenda should:

    August 28, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing gender inequalities as public health guidelines and lockdown measures lead to higher rates of gender-based violence and less access to sexual and reproductive information and health services including gender-affirming care. School and daycare closures and restrictions have substantially added to the unpaid care work disproportionately carried out by women. In a few short months, we have gone back to 1980s levels of women’s labour force participation, with fears the situation will become ever more dire as the pandemic wears on.

    Not all women, girls, and gender diverse people are experiencing the pandemic in the same way. Women, girls, and gender diverse people who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour; people with disabilities, LBTI folks, sex workers, refugees and migrants, and people living in poverty already faced heighted risks of violence, discrimination, and other human rights violations, and the pandemic has further heightened these risks.

    August 20, 2020

    In 2019 the Canadian government appointed an Ombudsperson to ensure justice and remedy for individuals and communities harmed by Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies operating overseas. However, the Canadian government failed to give the Ombudsperson the powers needed to conduct effective investigations (for example, the Ombudsperson cannot compel corporate disclosure). Without an effective Ombudsperson, the individuals and communities who seek justice for allegations of murder, sexual violence, dispossession from their land, dangerous and exploitative working conditions, poisoning of land and water, and other human rights abuses, will continue to be unable to have their voices heard in Canada.

    July 30, 2020
    Lake Quesnel - Not Forgotten

    In the six years since the Mount Polley tailings pond burst through its containment dam, a small group of committed community and Indigenous activists have inspired people across Canada to take action in solidarity with them. Their goal is to call everyone to justice who made decisions that led to the disaster on August 4, 2014. 

    They also want the Province of British Columbia to suspend the company’s permit to pipe mine waste-water directly into Quesnel Lake. Since April, thousands of Amnesty activists have signed our petition to the BC government calling on them to pull the discharge pipes from Quesnel Lake.  

    Scientists researching the impacts of the disaster on Quesnel Lake tell us the pressure is working: the province recently re-started a water testing group to investigate troubling reports of ongoing contamination of the lake. 

    But more than ever, pressure is needed to protect Quesnel Lake from further contamination. 

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