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Canada Slammed for Abysmal Human Rights Crisis

UN Committee, Amnesty urge Canadian government to take action

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Canada is failing to address serious human rights concerns within the country, particularly for its indigenous populations, Amnesty International reports Wednesday. Following three UN committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture, and children’s rights, which reveal a "range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” Amnesty called on the Canadian government to acknowledge the country's rights abuses and swiftly implement policy changes.

Families of Sisters in Spirit Evening Vigil, October 2012 (Susanne Ure / Amnesty International) “By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis,” Amnesty said.

The Amnesty report was not the only report this week to highlight human rights issues for indigenous people in Canada. The British Columbia government's Missing Women’s Inquiry found a disproportionate number of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls in Vancouver between 1997-2002; the report shows that such cases did not receive proportionate attention by police compared to non-indigenous cases.

In addition to unequal treatment to indigenous people, both the UN committees and Amnesty have concluded that the Canadian government is also failing to protect the human rights of its refugee and migrant populations for a long list of reasons including: allowing deportation to countries where those deported will be tortured; deportations without a process of appeal; and indefinite detention for many "irregular migrants" in the country.

Additionally, the report finds that Canada has failed to consider the human rights of people around the world by failing to implement legal standards on the conduct of multinational Canadian companies.

“It’s time for us to grapple with the fact that we have a broken system,” said Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada. “We don’t expect to be perfect, but it has gotten worse. How can we criticize Iran or Congo if we ourselves are failing to do what the UN is asking?”