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    March 30, 2015

    Today, as the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security commences its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, seven of Canada’s leading human rights organizations reiterate their call for the Bill to be withdrawn.

    Since the Committee began its hearings on March 9, 2015, it has heard concerns raised by expert witnesses representing a variety of perspectives. As Canadians learn more about Bill C-51, public concern and opposition to the Bill continues to grow, as reflected in the rapidly growing numbers of Canadians who have taken part in demonstrations and who have signed petitions and letters. Meanwhile, editorial boards from across the political spectrum continue to critique the Bill and the manner in which it is being deliberated in Parliament.

    March 13, 2015

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    It’s worth repeating, Bill C-51 is important, very important. Rarely does legislation touch so directly on two of the most fundamental imperatives of government: to protect our security and uphold our rights. How crucial therefore to be sure that it is carefully and thoughtfully studied, with input from groups and experts who can offer analysis, highlight shortcomings and make recommendations for improvement.

    March 13, 2015

    Inuit hunters and other community members from the Hamlet of Clyde River in Nunavut have challenged a decision by the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) to allow a group of multinational corporations to carry out seismic exploration off Baffin Island.

    “Fundamental human rights protections are at stake in this case,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Canadian and international law both require rigorous precautions to ensure that resource development decisions don’t lead to further marginalization and dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, the regulatory bodies that Canada relies on to uphold the public interest, all too often look at consultation with Indigenous peoples as a mere formality and fail to meet the underlying goal of protecting Indigenous peoples’ human rights.”

    The Hamlet of Clyde River and the Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization allege that the NEB failed to adequately consider the harmful effects of seismic testing on marine mammals and on Inuit food, economy and culture, and that the decision violated the constitutional rights of the Inuit.

    March 10, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

    Want to feel more secure?  Bill C-51, which is being examined by a Parliamentary committee in  three weeks of truncated hearings, offers up criminal offences that infringe free expression, unprecedented intrusive intelligence powers, breathtakingly vast definitions of security, unbridled sharing of information and stunning levels of secrecy; all while doing nothing to enhance review, oversight and accountability of Canada’s national security agencies. 

    The message is that human rights have to give way to keep terrorism at bay.  The relationship between the two is seen as a zero-sum game.  More safety means fewer rights.  Stronger regard for rights leads to greater insecurity.

    It is time to turn that around.  Human rights do not stand in the way of security that is universal, durable and inclusive.  Human rights are in fact the very key.

    March 09, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty.

    Most of us never give it a second thought; our nationality.  We were born with it or may have gained a second or third nationality by moving to another country, through our ancestry or by marriage.  We are usually proud of it.  We enjoy, need and may boast about it when we travel.  But we don’t often think about what it would be like not to have it or to lose it.

    Nationality is fundamental. It provides our identity in both a legal and cultural sense.  It is also the source of so many other rights: to vote, to participate and serve in government, to travel freely; and to be able to access education, medical care and employment. It establishes that there is a government to whom we can turn for support and protection.  It is essential.  That is why the right to a nationality is enshrined in article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    March 09, 2015

    Sweeping changes to Canada’s national security laws, proposed to prevent and respond to terrorist threats, fail to meet a range of important international human rights obligations, says Amnesty International in Insecurity and Human Rights a detailed briefing released today highlighting concerns and recommendations with respect to Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.

    March 09, 2015

    Ottawa - Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the federal government, while claiming to accept the majority of recommendations made in a new report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), is in fact refusing to make any new commitments to stop the horrific levels of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

    In a strongly worded report released on Friday, the UN expert committee concluded that Canada was responsible for “grave violations” of human rights due its “protracted failure” to take sufficient action to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls.

    The CEDAW report sets out 38 recommendations to address the marginalization and impoverishment putting Indigenous women at risk, ensuring effective and unbiased police responses, and proper support for affected families and communities. The Committee also called for an independent national inquiry and a comprehensive, coordinated national action plan.

    March 06, 2015

    By Jackie Hansen and Craig Benjamin

    Today, a UN expert committee—the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — released a strongly worded report stating that Canada was responsible for “grave violations” of human rights due its “protracted failure” to do enough to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.

    March 05, 2015

    Ottawa -  This evening, over 400 people are expected to attend the Ottawa-Gatineau area’s largest International Women’s Day celebration.

    “As feminists we work on serious, often life and death issues, such as violence against women,” said Kelly Bowden from Oxfam. “Tonight we will come together for something more upbeat—to celebrate our achievements and to laugh a little at the same time.”

    Themed “Join the Feminist Party”, the event will include a mock election debate on women’s rights issues moderated by Amal Wahab from Live 88.5FM. “The last time federal political party leaders held a debate on women’s issues was in 1984,” said Jackie Hansen of Amnesty International Canada. “If held today, many of the same issues could be discussed. Tonight our line-up of satirical panelists will imagine what a debate on the issues that matter to women and girls in Canada could look like in 2015.”

    March 01, 2015

    By Jackie Hansen and Craig Benjamin

    Last week, the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls brought together family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, national Aboriginal organizations (NAOs), and representatives from the federal, provincial and territorial governments to Ottawa to discuss the need for action to combat the staggeringly high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Provinces, territories, and all NAOs are on record as supporting an independent inquiry into the issue.

    February 27, 2015

    A coalition of advocacy groups, Indigenous organizations, and family members continue to demand that the federal government hold a national public inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. In its January 2015 report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights strongly supported a national inquiry because there is "much still to be understood and much to be acknowledged.”  In a report of his visit to Canada in 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights and Freedoms, Dr. James Anaya, also supported the need for a national inquiry, as have Indigenous women and communities, human rights groups, opposition parties and Premiers. 

    A national inquiry is needed to allow all voices to be heard and to educate the public about the root and intersecting causes of violence, systemic poverty, racism, sexism and intergenerational abuse.  It must thoroughly investigate all national, provincial, regional and municipal police practices/policies and make sweeping changes to how Indigenous women and girls are treated in Canada. 

    February 26, 2015

    Rights groups across Canada reacted with alarm and deep concern to the news that the government has brought forward a motion limiting study of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to only four sessions of two hours each.  With the first session devoted to government witnesses, including the Minister of Public Safety, this would leave only six hours for all other potential experts.

    Amnesty International Canada, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés and the National Council of Canadian Muslims all called on the government to withdraw the motion and agree to a schedule of extensive hearings that will ensure that all relevant expertise and perspectives across the country is available to the Committee during the course of its study of Bill C-51.

    February 26, 2015

    An alarming study released today shows that governments in Canada have repeatedly ignored expert recommendations to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls.

    Researchers with the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women reviewed 58 reports dealing with aspects of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, including government studies, reports by international human rights bodies, and published research of Indigenous women’s organizations. The reports cover a period of two decades. Shockingly, researchers found that only a few of more than 700 recommendations in these reports have ever been fully implemented.

    February 25, 2015

    Today, Amnesty International has published its global level Annual Report, providing an overview of the state of human rights in the world.  As has been the case for the past ten years, the report includes an entry highlighting a range of human rights concerns in Canada which draws attention to the alarmingly high levels of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls in the country, and the failure of the federal government to launch comprehensive and effective action to address this crisis.  A copy of the entry on Canada is attached.

    This year’s report notes that:

    In May, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that at least 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered between 1980 and 2012, four and a half times the homicide rate for all other women. Despite mounting demands, including by provincial and territorial governments, the federal government refused to initiate a national action plan or public inquiry.

    Ten years ago Amnesty International’s Annual Report noted the following:

    February 25, 2015

    Ottawa, February 26, 2015 – Trans Equality Rights in Canada, a civil society-based coalition advocating for the rights of transgender people in Canada, is disappointed that Canada’s Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs amended Bill C-279 on Gender Identity yesterday, exempting it from applying to public spaces including bathrooms and locker rooms.

    “Human rights are not conditional,” said Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. “The human rights of transgender people must be protected in all spaces including public bathrooms and locker rooms. The amendment to Bill C-279 fuels discrimination against transgender individuals by making it seem like people have something to fear by sharing a bathroom with a transgender person, which of course they don’t.”

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