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Canada

    May 27, 2020
    Cracks in the “Canada Brand”: profit before people creates high-risk conditions for communities made vulnerable by the pandemic 

    Workers’ concerns ignored at Canadian meat packing plants and hundreds made sick. Amazon employees fired for speaking out about conditions on warehouse floors. Energy workers expected to continue working despite outbreaks at mine sites and an inability to physically distance. Construction workers unable to wash their hands on the job because there is no running water. Mining considered an essential service that employs workers from across the country while small communities struggle to keep away visitors. These are some of the dire stories being shared across Canada as the pandemic reveals the impact of business decisions on workers and communities. While the situation varies from community to community, and some companies have taken steps to suspend operations in order to protect workers and communities, there is growing concern that not all companies are truly respecting human rights through this crisis.

    May 21, 2020

    Women make up 70% of health care workers globally, putting their lives at risk caring for those infected by COVID-19. Gender-based violence rose by almost 30% in some parts of the world in the first weeks of lockdown. An estimated 47 million women around the world may not be able to access modern contraceptives as health care systems divert resources to treating COVID-19 patients.

    These are a few examples, highlighted in a new briefing released today, of how women, girls and gender-diverse people face unique challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A Feminist Action Agenda for Canada’s Global Response to COVID-19 – produced by Oxfam Canada, Amnesty International, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Inter Pares, Action Canada for Sexual and Health Rights, and the Equality Fund – states that Canada is well-placed to take a leadership role in ensuring that women’s rights and gender justice are at the heart of the global COVID-19 response.

    May 20, 2020

    Despite opposition from First Nations in northern Manitoba who are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 to their communities, this week Manitoba Hydro is replacing 700 people currently at the industry worker camp at the Keeyask dam project with up to 1,200 workers from across Canada and possibly the United States.

    The provincial government has said that Northern Manitoba remains closed to non-essential travel to halt the spread of COVID-19. However, the province deemed construction of the Keeyask dam as an essential service. The four First Nations—Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, and York Factory Cree Nation—have partnered with Manitoba Hydro to build and operate the dam but, despite legal obligations, Manitoba Hydro has not worked collaboratively to obtain consent to this most recent decision to expand operations and is ignoring requests by the four partner First Nations to limit work at the dam site because of public health concerns.

    May 20, 2020

    GENEVA (20 May 2020) – UN experts today called on Canada to secure the urgent release and repatriation of a five-year-old orphaned girl being held in inhuman conditions in north-eastern Syria’s overcrowded Al-Hol camp.

    “Canada has an obligation to intervene in favour of its nationals abroad, particularly if there are reasonable grounds to believe that their non-derogable human rights have been violated,” said the experts.

    “Within this context, special care must be taken for children, particularly if their parents are dead,” the experts emphasized.

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic in play, and thus in a time of new vulnerabilities for children, the return of this orphaned child to Canada and reunion with her family/relatives is even more urgent.” 

    After her parents – suspected of affiliation with ISIL – were reportedly killed in a 2019 airstrike, she was taken to Al-Hol camp, which houses an estimated 70,000 people, including more than 40,000 children.

    May 15, 2020

    Today, in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations expressed deep concern regarding the analysis contained in the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) document Final Report: Review of export permits to Saudi Arabia. The government document was published in April following the announcement that the moratorium on approving new permits for military exports to Saudi Arabia would be lifted.

    In the view of the civil society coalition, the government’s analysis is unsatisfactory and demonstrates a weak commitment to Canada’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).  They also expressed concern that the Final Report contains an insufficiently robust analysis with regards to the undermining of peace and security, international humanitarian and international human rights law, gender-based violence, the “substantial risk” test and diversion.

    May 13, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    K1A 0A2

     

    13 May 2020

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

    Re: Demonstrating Global Leadership on Refugees and Migrants in light of COVID-19

    We write this Open Letter to you, amidst the unprecedented challenges governments everywhere face in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, to express our firm conviction that Canada can, and must, provide much needed global leadership when it comes to providing meaningful human rights protection for migrants and refugees around the world. We write as Canadians, permanent residents and refugees living in Canada who have had opportunities to serve in roles or positions internationally in which we have engaged substantially in concerns about refugee protection globally. We have witnessed and appreciated the value of Canadian leadership in the past and stress how urgently needed it is at this time.

    May 12, 2020
    Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China says Canadian government’s inadequate response emboldens pro-Beijing actors

    OTTAWA – Advocates across Canada are increasingly facing threats, intimidation, and harassment for sounding the alarm on serious human rights concerns in China, according to a new report.       

    The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, a coalition of Canada-based civil society organizations with a specific focus on the place of human rights in Canada’s foreign policy with China, released the report today. The Coalition is calling on Canadian officials to urgently address these deeply worrying incidents, some of which have involved cyberbullying, death threats, racist insults, and aggressive counter-protests organized in response to pro-democracy demonstrations. Many of these cases are clearly linked, either directly or indirectly, to Chinese state actors.

    Further, the report highlights a new trend of such incidents taking place on university campuses and secondary schools across Canada.

    April 30, 2020

    VANCOUVER, Coast Salish Territories – Today, 38 human rights, health, prisoner rights, and legal organizations are calling on BC’s Chief Coroner and BC’s Solicitor General to direct an immediate inquest into the tragic death of a man in Correctional Service Canada’s custody at Mission Institution. His death on April 15th is the first reported COVID-related death of a federal prisoner.

    In their letter, the 38 provincial and national organizations state, “Amidst a global pandemic, we cannot continue to sit back and watch people die in prison from the ticking time bomb of COVID-19 spreading through these institutions.” The organizations recognize that an inquest is absolutely in the public interest and is a minimum first step to ensure that similar deaths can be prevented.

    April 27, 2020

    Amnesty International is disappointed in Canada’s decision to renew a measure banning refugee claimants from crossing into Canada from the US. Some claimants seeking to enter Canada have already been turned back to an uncertain fate in the US, potentially in violation of Canada’s international legal obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.

    The federal government has introduced some positive exceptions to the general ban it introduced last month. People crossing at land ports of entry who were exempt under the Safe Third Country Agreement will now be permitted to make their claims in Canada, as will US citizens, stateless persons and minors regardless of how they arrive. However, Amnesty International maintains that the measure puts some refugee claimants in danger and is out of step with public health measures.

    April 27, 2020

    Honourable John Horgan                                              Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan

    Premier of British Columbia                                         Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Parliament Buildings                                                       “E” Division

    April 24, 2020

    Today marks the seven-year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh, which tragically left more than 1,100 workers dead and thousands more injured. Covid-19 has created new threats to the lives and livelihoods of garment workers.

    Standing in solidarity with Bangladesh garment sector workers, and with garment sector workers in all countries, Amnesty International joins Canadian labour and civil society organizations in urging Canadian brands, retailers, and the Canadian government, to address workers rights.

    Here is our joint statement:

    Protect the women who make our clothes: Canada’s unions and civil society organizations call for action

    Seven years after the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh garment sector workers now confront even more risk and vulnerability in the fight against Covid-19.

    Canada’s unions and civil society organizations are calling for immediate relief for workers and protection of rights in global supply chains.

    April 23, 2020

    Jenn Clamen is a powerful advocate for the rights of sex workers in Canada and around the world, and she is the Montreal-based National Coordinator for the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform. The Alliance is a coalition of sex worker and allied organizations across Canada advocating for law and policy reform that respects and upholds the rights and safety of sex workers. Members of the Alliance have expertise, analysis and experience on the impact of criminal and other sex work-related prohibitions on the lives and wellbeing of those who sell or trade sex.

    Six weeks into COVID-related lockdowns across Canada, Jenn took time to speak with Amnesty about the devastating impacts that  responses to COVID-19 are having on sex workers in Canada.

    What’s changed for sex workers since the pandemic started? Has the pattern of human rights violations experienced by sex workers changed, and if so, how?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities and human rights violations that the diversity of sex workers in our communities experience.

    April 19, 2020
    Earth Day 2020 #ClimateStrikeOnline

    Earth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the nature around us. It is also a chance to join others in calling attention to the urgency of protecting the place we all live.

    Our human rights are intertwined with the environment. People need a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment to fully enjoy their human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, and water. While other human rights, including the rights to information, freedom of expression, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice, are essential for protecting the environment.

    April 22nd is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Although many wonderful celebrations had been planned across Canada and around the world, many of these events have been cancelled or revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for physical distancing. The global climate strikes, for example, that saw millions of people marching in the streets in 2019, have moved online.

    We encourage you to stay safe at home and join the next big climate strike online this Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22, 2020). 

    To join the strike online here is what to do:

    April 17, 2020

    The Month of Action for Mining Justice is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of mining justice and to take action in solidarity with mining-affected communities.  

    Although we derive many benefits from mining, it is absolutely crucial that the mining industry adhere to international human rights standards. Too often, we hear of human rights abuses related to mining, including: forced labour; child labour; people threatened, harmed, raped or killed for opposing mining projects; unsafe working conditions; toxic contamination of water; people forcibly evicted from their homes; a lack of respect for Indigenous rights; and more.

    On May 14th  join us for a mining justice webinar and hear directly from people whose lives have been negatively impacted by Canadian-owned mines in Asia, Africa and South America and who are fighting for justice.

    During the webinar, we will also launch a parliamentary e-petition. By signing the petition and sharing it with your contacts you can help us convince the Canadian government to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights abuses overseas.

    April 17, 2020

    OTTAWA – Amnesty International is pleased to announce the winners of the 25th annual Amnesty International Canada Media Awards:

    Long-Form Audio: Justin Ling, Jennifer Fowler, Erin Byrnes and Cesil Fernandes, CBC Podcasts, Uncover: The Village

    Mixed Media: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours and Megan O’Toole, Al Jazeera (freelance), Nations Divided: Mapping Canada's Pipeline Battle

    Long-Form Text: Shree Paradkar, Toronto Star, These Girls Were Powerless, Living On The Edge Of Society, But One School Is Turning Them Into Heroes, Feminists, And Resisters

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