The UN Human Rights Committee is shaming Canada for its human rights record, which hasn’t improved much in the last decade.
On Thursday, the committee released its first review of Canada in 10 years — and the first ever under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The findings claim that the government has failed on a host of issues ranging from missing and murdered Aboriginal women, its treatment of refugees, to its overly broad anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51.
The seven-page report comes after more than 26 human rights organizations submitted their concerns about Canada and provided testimony in front of the 18-person committee in Geneva earlier this month. The committee calls on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women, while making note of “persisting inequalities between men and women” in Canada, and asking the government to consider overturning Bill C-51.
The report is quick to point out that Canada has failed to create a way for its recommendations to be carried out at all. “The Committee regrets the lack of an appropriate mechanism in the State party to implement views of the committee,” it says.
And what’s striking about the 2015 report is how similar it is to the committee’s last report on Canada that came out in 2006, when Liberal leader Paul Martin was in power.
“The State party should gather accurate statistical data throughout the country on violence against Aboriginal women, fully address the root causes of this phenomenon, including economic and social marginalization of Aboriginal women, and ensure their effective access to the justice system,” the 2006 report said of the human rights situation at the time. Back then, the committee lambasted Canada for its overly broad Anti-Terrorism Act, which it said could be used to unfairly target people on political or religious grounds.
Ten years later, the committee is again criticizing Canada for its treatment of indigenous people, its counterterrorism measures, and excessive force used by police during protests.
“The Committee is concerned that indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by life-threatening forms of violence, homicides and disappearances,” says the current report. This year, Canada’s federal police said that more than 1,200 aboriginal women in Canada have either gone missing or been murdered since 1980.
Canada still has a long way to go on addressing its human rights concerns, according to Alexe Neve, secretary general for Amnesty International Canada.
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