Yolanda Becerra and Gloria Amparo Suárez are amazing women.
Amidst an ongoing, vicious armed conflict in Colombia, a dirty war that the rest of the world has largely chosen to downplay or ignore, Yolanda and Gloria face fear on a daily basis yet steadfastly refuse to be paralysed by it.
Via an organization known as the OFP (in English, the Popular Women’s Organization), Yolanda and Gloria have provided a haven for women whose families have been devastated by attacks, disappearances and killings – many perpetrated by army-backed paramilitaries. On behalf of these women, and knowing the danger of doing so, Gloria and Yolanda have worked relentlessly for truth, justice and reparations.
Gloria and Yolanda should be applauded for these efforts, so urgently needed if women’s human rights and the rule of law are to become more than a pipe dream in Colombia. Instead they face persecution and a mother’s nightmare - the threat of harm to their children.
Community hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline wrap up this week in Vancouver. As an international human rights organization with strong roots in communities across Canada, Amnesty International wanted to be part of this process to emphasize that whatever the mandate of this specific review, all decisions about resource development affecting the lands of Indigenous peoples must uphold domestic and international protections for their rights. Even more than this, we wanted to demonstrate that respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples is matter of urgent priority for Canadian society and for the example that Canada sets for the world.
More than 600 major resource development projects are planned across Canada in the coming decade. In northern British Columbia alone, in the region that would be crossed by the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, 100 major projects in mining, forestry and other industries are currently underway or under development. The vast majority of these projects would affect lands and waters of continued cultural, economic, political and spiritual importance to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples
This week, on February 1, Amnesty International will make an oral presentation to the environmental assessment panel that is reviewing the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. We are doing so, despite significant concerns about the process, because we believe it's important to take this opportunity to continue to emphasize the need for all decisions about resource development to respect and uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
Amnesty International has worked alongside Indigenous communities across Canada and around the world. All too often, we have seen how resource development projects carried out against their wishes and without rigorous protection of their rights can lead to devastating impacts on their cultures, economies, health and well-being.
On January 21, 2013, the Saskatchewan Police Commission approved the use of Conducted Energy Weapons – commonly referred to by the brand name “tasers” – by municipal police. This announcement followed an extensive multi-year review inspired in part by concerns around the taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver Airport in 2007. Any municipal police force wishing to issue tasers to its members must still have its policies approved by the Commission before the device can be deployed. Up until this point, only tactical units and RCMP officers in the province were authorized to use tasers.
International human rights standards for the use of force and firearms by law enforcement support the principle that the minimum force necessary should be used to safely resolve any situation.
Students at Rockridge School’s Amnesty group in West Vancouver rock! In October 2012, the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association in Canada, Vancouver Branch informed the weekly Urgent Action writers that they had received this year’s John Gibbard Memorial Award.
The Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (PCISA), Bill C-31 became law on June 28, 2012. Some parts of the new Act came into force immediately, and other parts of the Act will come into force later this year; most likely in mid-December.
Amnesty International believes that PCISA falls far short of Canada’s international human rights and refugee protection obligations and will result in serious violations of the rights of refugees and migrants.
For more information please see:
Canadian Council for Refugees
Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers
You can learn more about Amnesty International’s concerns here.