Dec. 19, 2012
By Olivia Ward
For Canada’s international human rights standing, 2012 was an annus horribilis.
This year three UN expert committees rated the country’s performance on meeting rights commitments — and returned a failing grade.
“These mandatory reviews are carried out every four or five years, and it just happened that this year Canada was the focus of three,” said Alex Neve, who heads Amnesty International Canada. “It’s a wake-up call that although we have things to be proud of, there are many fronts where we have long-standing issues that need to be addressed.”
An Amnesty report released Wednesday says that committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture and children’s rights found “a range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” especially for indigenous peoples.
“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,” it said.
In response to Amnesty’s report, Rick Roth, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said, “we are proud of the work we’ve done to advance freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law at home and around the world.”
The Amnesty report was one of three reports this week that pointed a warning finger at the treatment of aboriginal people.
The B.C. government’s final report from its Missing Women’s inquiry charged that there was a disproportionate number of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls on Vancouver’s downtown East Side from 1997-2002, and that their cases did not receive equal treatment by police.
In addition, Human Rights Watch’s women’s rights researcher Meghan Rhoad said that “the epidemic of violence against indigenous women and girls in Canada is a national problem and it demands a national enquiry.”
Amnesty’s report calls for a new human rights agenda for Canada that includes all levels of government, beginning with “a process of law reform . . . to establish a formal mechanism for transparent, effective and accountable implementation of Canada’s international human rights obligations.”
It says that UN recommendations have too often been ignored, and the implementation process is so “cloaked in secrecy” that most Canadians have no idea whether the government plans to act on them.
The gap between commitment and action has grown in the past decade because of “the complexities of federalism,” lack of political will and failure of leadership, it said.
Full Article Here – http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1304353–canada-gets-human-rights-failing-grade-from-amnesty-international