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Canada

    June 20, 2019

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

    June 20, 2019

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you, as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,1 in advance of the 2019 G20 Summit, to be held in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29. We are writing in response to media reports that you are seeking a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Summit and to share with you nine crucial human rights recommendations to press with President Xi if such a meeting does occur. More broadly, these are points that we urge you, your Ministers and all Canadian government officials to raise in meetings and other exchanges with Chinese counterparts, be it in connection with the G20 Summit or other opportunities over the coming weeks and months.

    June 17, 2019

    With human rights defenders increasingly under attack around the world, civil society organizations today welcomed the Government of Canada’s new guidelines aimed at strengthening its approach to ensuring the safety and security of these courageous activists as part of its feminist foreign policy. 

    Human rights defenders are often criminalized, targeted with smear campaigns, discredited, threatened, arbitrarily arrested, and face violence because they advocate for human rights. According to Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2018, 321 human rights defenders in 27 countries were targeted and killed for their work in 2018.  More than three-quarters of these were defending land, environmental or Indigenous peoples’ rights, often in the context of extractive industries and mega projects.  More than 80% of those killed had previously received a specific death threat.

    June 15, 2019

    Young people from Grassy Narrows are travelling to Toronto for a massive rally on June 20th to focus attention to urgency of addressing the crisis of mercury poisoning facing their First Nation.

    Amnesty International is urging its members and supporters to do all they can to help this vital and timely campaign.

    The people of Grassy Narrows are living with the devastating consequences of a half century of mercury contamination of their rivers and lakes. The harm they’ve experienced, including erosion of culture, loss of livelihoods, and one of the worst community health crises anywhere in Canada, has been made so much worse by decades of government denial and inaction. 

    Last month, federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan visited Grassy Narrows but failed to deliver on a long promised treatment centre for mercury survivors. 

    This stalling and inaction is all the more shocking in light of the fact that two of the United Nations independent human rights advisors, the expert of health and the expert on toxic wastes, have now both urged Canada to take action on the mercury crisis.

    June 14, 2019

    Quebec Native Women was founded in 1974 to fight sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Forty-five years later, this discrimination persists. Amnesty International spoke with Quebec Native Women’s Legal and Policy analyst Éloïse Décoste to learn more about steps her organization is taking to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act once and for all. Here’s what she had to say.

    TAKE ACTION NOW For people who aren’t familiar with the issue, can you please tell me how the Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women?

    The Indian Act determines who is consider an Indian in the eyes of the government. Historically, an Indian* would be defined as a man, his wife, and his children. When an Indian woman married a man without Indian status, she lost her own status and could not pass her status on to her children. This was the situation until 1985.

    June 11, 2019

    We are hopeful that in a matter of days the Senate will vote to adopt a private member’s bill that would require the federal government to begin in earnest the work of implementing global human rights standards to protect the cultures, lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

    Bill C-262, a Bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is a vital and necessary step for reconciliation in Canada, consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recognition of the UN Declaration as “the framework” for reconciliation.

    However, some Conservative Senators have already used stalling tactics to delay the Bill’s passage through the Senate and there is concern that they might use such tactics again to prevent a final vote.

    These Senators have claimed to support the UN Declaration and the rights of Indigenous peoples while asserting that Bill C-262 is “rushed” and that Parliament has not had the opportunity to understand the “far-reaching” implications of implementing the UN Declaration.

    June 07, 2019

    June 2019 marks the 52nd anniversary of Israel’s capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a war with its neighbours, and the beginning of its occupation of Palestinian territory. Today, over 600,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers are living on occupied Palestinian land and are afforded protections and benefits, of which over 4.9 million Palestinians living in the same territory do not have access to. This is the direct result of a discriminatory system of laws and policies that ensure that Palestinians are not afforded the same rights or services as Israeli settlers.

    For 52 years, hundreds of thousands of hectares of Palestinian land have been appropriated and exploited by Israel. For 52 years, tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), resulting in the displacement of thousands of Palestinians. The wanton destruction of property and the forcible transfer of civilians in the occupied territory are both war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

    June 06, 2019

    Today, Baskut Tuncak, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, said the government has “failed” to answer why it has not remediated massive levels of mercury contamination in a river near Grassy Narrows First Nation. Tuncak made his preliminary observations – which will be followed by a report about the government’s steps to protect human rights implicated by the management of hazardous wastes – following an eight-stop trip across Canada that included a visit with those who have been impacted by mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows First Nation.  

    In response, Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International Canada’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner, said:

    June 03, 2019

    OTTAWA, June 3, 2019 – Responding to “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Amnesty International urges all governments in Canada to move beyond the piecemeal approach to ending the violence that has tragically failed First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, two-spirit people, families, and communities.

    The National Inquiry’s final report states, “Colonial violence, as well as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, has become embedded in everyday life – whether this is through interpersonal forms of violence, through institutions like the health care system and the justice system, or in the laws, policies and structures of Canadian society. The result has been that many Indigenous people have grown up normalized to violence, while Canadian society shows an appalling apathy to addressing the issue.”

    May 30, 2019

    Statement of Amnesty International Canada,  Council of Canadians,  CUPE Ontario

    Our organizations are deeply disappointed that the federal government has failed to take decisive action to guarantee that survivors of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows will get the medical care they need and deserve. 

    Although the federal Indigenous Services department had announced that Minister Seamus O’Regan would sign a memorandum of understanding with Grassy Narrows when he visited the northwestern Ontario First Nation yesterday, no such agreement was reached.

    According to a statement released by the Grassy Narrows Chief and Council, negotiations are continuing around key needs of the community. This includes a call for the federal government to put the necessary funds for the construction and operation of a treatment centre into trust so that health of mercury survivors will be protected from shifting political winds.

    May 29, 2019

    OTTAWA – Today, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May publicly committed to participating in a federal leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality in the lead-up to the October 2019 federal election.

    The leaders announced their commitments at the launch of Up for Debate, a non-partisan campaign calling for women’s rights and gender equality to be front and centre in the federal election campaign.

    “We are thrilled that two party leaders have committed to a leaders’ debate,” said Paulette Senior, CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a member of the Up for Debate coalition. “We welcome the commitment made by the Bloc Québécois today to discussing women’s rights and gender equality during the election campaign. We hope they will strengthen their commitment by agreeing to participate in a leaders’ debate on these issues.”

    The Liberal and Conservative parties have not yet committed to participate in the Up for Debate campaign.

    May 28, 2019

    OTTAWA – Today, a coalition of prominent women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations in Canada has called on all federal political party leaders to participate in a national debate on women’s rights and gender equality.

    With less than five months until the fall election, supporters of the 2019 Up for Debate campaign are also urging federal party leaders to make real commitments to end poverty, end gender-based violence, and support women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations.

    May 28, 2019

    In an open letter, Amnesty International Canada, the Council of Canadians and CUPE Ontario are urging Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan to use his visit to Grassy Narrows tomorrow to make good on his government’s promise to provide long-needed health services to a community devastated by a half century of mercury poisoning. 

    Maude Barlow, Honourary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said, “The people of Grassy Narrows have already had to wait decades too long for the medical care they need and deserve. It is unconscionable that they should continue to wait for the government to fulfill its promise while their family members die or languish without adequate care.”

    May 27, 2019

    By Alex Neve      May. 22, 2019

    With only five sitting weeks to go, Parliamentarians face high expectations on bills on Indigenous languages and rights, environmental protection, and more.

    NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262 in 2016 and is still waiting for it to pass. It would set a framework for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

    There is an enormous amount of consequential human rights legislation approaching the parliamentary finish line. The time to get it across shrinks daily.

    May 17, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to remove all countries from the Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) list. The DCO regime violates the rights of refugee protection claimants to a fair hearing by imposing shorter timelines and other measures for no reason other than the claimant’s country of origin. Furthermore, delays in accessing the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) for claimants from DCO countries have been found to be unconstitutional.

    In March 2019, the Federal Court struck down the distinction between the DCO and non-DCO claimants’ access to the PRRA. While DCO claimants were ineligible to apply for a PRRA for 36 months from the date of rejection of their claims, non-DCO refugee claimants were ineligible for 12 months after rejection of their claims. This difference in treatment was considered unconstitutional. Similarly, in July 2015, the Federal Court found that differential treatment in accessing the Refugee Appeal Division between DCO and non-DCO claimants was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    May 16, 2019

    Amnesty International’s goal is to ensure that the human rights of everyone, everywhere are respected, protected, and upheld. We conduct research and generate action to prevent and halt human rights violations and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

    Amnesty International recognizes that lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S), Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour in Canada and around the world disproportionately experience human rights violations perpetrated by the police, state actors, and non-state actors because of systems of oppression.

    State and police violence against LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour violate the right to life; the rights to liberty and security of the person; the right to safety and to live free from violence  and discrimination; the rights to protest, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly; and the right to live free from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

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