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    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 23, 2020
    Canadian companies must take responsibility for human rights abuses abroad, says human rights organization  

    Amnesty International is welcoming news that a group of Eritrean plaintiffs have reached an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit against Canadian mining company, Nevsun Resources.

    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 and gold mine in Eritrea.

    The terms of the settlement – which concludes years of legal wrangling across three continents – are confidential.

    October 20, 2020

    OTTAWA – Amnesty International stands firmly in solidarity with the family and loved ones of Abdirahman Abdi, as well as Black communities in Ottawa and across Canada, after a court found Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges connected to his death.

    Abdi was a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man who died on July 24, 2016 following a violent arrest and altercation with Ottawa police, captured on a witness video. Abdi’s family indicated that he suffered from mental health issues. He had no criminal history.

    “Today’s verdict does not serve justice to Abdirahman – nor to the Black, Indigenous and racialized people who have died at the hands of police before him” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Instead, today’s verdict is yet another painful reminder of the systemic racism that is pervasive in our police institutions and carceral systems. This must end.”

    October 20, 2020

    On Friday 23 October 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal will hear arguments on the Canadian government’s request to stay the decision finding that Canada is violating the rights of refugee claimants it returns to the US under the Safe Third Country Agreement. The July Federal Court decision is otherwise due to take effect in January 2021.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and The Canadian Council of Churches, alongside the individual litigants, are arguing that the stay application must be rejected.

    “Every day that the rules remain in effect, more people risk being returned to imprisonment in the US and possible return to persecution,” said Dorota Blumczynska, CCR President. “After seeing overwhelming evidence, including the testimonies of the appalling experiences of people in the US immigration detention system, the Federal Court concluded that the conditions in US detention ‘shock the conscience’. We must stop sending people to face these intolerable abuses.”

    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 05, 2020

    Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to repatriate a Canadian orphan girl who has been stranded in Northeast Syria since March 2019.

    “We are thrilled that Canada has finally repatriated this child and reunited her with her family in Canada,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Now, it is incumbent upon Canada to take all necessary measures to repatriate the remaining Canadian children from Northeast Syria in a manner that fully respects the best interests of the child and the principle of family unity,” she added.

    With the child having been repatriated, there are 46 documented cases of Canadian citizens who remain in arbitrary detention in Northeast Syria, 25 of whom are children.

    October 05, 2020
    In aftermath of the IMO killing, organizations demand a national action plan to dismantle Canada's 300 xenophobic alt-right and white supremacist organizations

    Our communities are still reeling from the incident that took place this September 12, 2020. On that day, a member of the Canadian community, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, was ruthlessly killed in front of the IMO Mosque in Toronto by an individual with apparent links to a disturbing brand of neo-Nazism. This attack did not occur in isolation.

    Today, NCCM is joining leading civil rights, anti-racism, and civil liberties organizations in an open letter to the Prime Minister and to all opposition leaders. The open letter calls for bipartisan action in developing a national action strategy to dismantle and dissolve active and militarized white supremacist groups in Canada:

    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

    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.”

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