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    September 24, 2020

    World leaders must stop using COVID-19 as an excuse to delay urgent action to tackle the climate crisis or risk failing children and future generations further, Amnesty International said ahead of a global day of school strikes against climate change planned for 25 September by young people.

    Climate change was cited as one of the most important issues of our time in a survey of more than 10,000 young people published by Amnesty International just months before the pandemic turned the world upside down.

    “Amnesty International stands with all children and young people taking part in climate strikes. Children globally have faced unimaginable disruption to their lives, education and health as a result of COVID-19. That they must take more time out of school to demand that adults do the right thing is utterly shameful, but young people know only too well the unthinkable consequences of climate inaction to their lives and human rights.” said Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Director. 

    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 24, 2020

    Responding to the much-anticipated 2020 Throne Speech, Amnesty International welcomed several vital commitments and ambitious program announcements while, at the same time, expressing disappointment that the government failed to craft and deliver a transformative human rights agenda for the country, at a time of both crucial need and tremendous opportunity.

    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 21, 2020

    Lana Verran, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) today announced the appointment of Burundian human rights defender and poet Ketty Nivyabandi as the branch’s next Secretary General.  Ketty has resided in Canada since 2015 and holds refugee status in the country.  She succeeds Alex Neve, who is stepping down after more than twenty years in the role.

    “At such a challenging time for human rights across Canada and around the world, but also tremendous openings for advancing real change, we are excited and honoured that Ketty Nivyabandi will be our next Secretary General,” said Lana Verran. “Her dynamism, conviction and experience offer precisely the inspiring leadership we need at this time.”

    September 18, 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 17, 2020

    Following the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations are calling on Canada to end weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. This follows a recent report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, which specifically names Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

    “Canada has now been publicly shamed in front of the international community for its ongoing weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, while the devastating war in Yemen rages on,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. “Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred this government’s unrelenting support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. It has ignored the groundswell of civil society opposition to these exports. Hopefully, the UN’s report will provoke a different response.”

    September 14, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    September 10, 2020

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We write this Open Letter, on behalf of 400,000 supporters of Amnesty International across the country, in times of considerable uncertainty, turmoil, injustice and fear; but also of mobilization, courage, determination, and possibility.

    Against that backdrop, you have indicated that your government’s upcoming Throne Speech will lay out a “plan to rebuild a stronger, more resilient Canada” and offer a “roadmap out of the pandemic towards a society that is fairer and more welcoming.” Central to those goals is the imperative to implement a genuinely transformative human rights agenda. This Throne Speech must acknowledge that respect for human rights will be central to all aspect of adopting laws, developing policy, making budgetary choices and taking action. Towards that vision, we urge you to take up the following seven recommendations:

    September 08, 2020

    OTTAWA – The recent murder of a Liberian national who had settled in Ontario has made one thing clear: Canada is failing to bring those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes to justice.

    In late June, Bill Horace was shot dead in London, Ontario. He had been widely accused of committing mass murder, rape and torture in Liberia during the 1990s. Despite a mountain of evidence against him, Canadian officials never charged Horace, allowing him to live freely in this country since he first arrived in 2002.

    On the heels of Horace’s murder, Amnesty International is releasing a new report in the No Safe Haven series, which documents how judicial systems around the world – including those in Bulgaria, Germany and Spain – are failing to effectively prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. This latest report details how Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program is grossly underfunded and underused.

    September 05, 2020

    Years of campaigning led by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people resulted in government finally calling an inquiry to investigate the scope and scale of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit persons, and to identify solutions to end the violence. In June 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its final report, including 231 Calls for Justice. The federal government committed to creating a National Action Plan by June 2020 to transform the Calls for Justice into concrete actions, but has delayed creation of the plan, and a timeline and process to create it remains unknown.

    Normally on October 4th, hundreds of Sisters in Spirit vigils are held in communities across Canada to honour Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people who have gone missing or been murdered, and every year many Amnesty members participate in these vigils.

    September 04, 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 01, 2020

    High quality, accessible, affordable, inclusive childcare is important for children, but it’s also essential for care givers—particularly women—who shoulder the burden of unpaid care work.

    As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, without access to childcare, women either take on a disproportionate share of unpaid care work in the home, balancing paid work with child care, house work, and in some cases home schooling—or they reduce their work hours, take leaves of absence from work, or leave their jobs entirely. In August, Statistics Canada reported that mothers whose youngest child was 6-17 years old were the furthest from returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.

    If unpaid care work was equally distributed between people of all genders, access to childcare might not be so central to ensuring that the rights of women are respected, protected, and upheld. However, ongoing gender discrimination leads to women carrying out the bulk of unpaid care work, including childcare, making access to childcare very much a women’s rights issue in Canada.

    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. 

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