UN human rights committee slams Canada's record on women
UN also cites failure to set up effective procedures for responding to its criticisms
The UN human rights committee is accusing the Canadian government of failing to act on missing and murdered aboriginal women, violence against women generally, and numerous other matters, ranging from refugees to Bill C-51, the new anti-terror law.
The UN's first report card on Canada in 10 years was released Thursday, and measures whether the country has met its human rights obligations.
At least 26 human rights organizations, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch, submitted their own separate reports to the 18-member independent committee on the various issues.
Overall, the report took exception to Canada's failure to set up a way to implement some of the committee's recommendations.
"It should take all necessary measures to establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the committee's views so as to guarantee an effective remedy when there has been a violation of the covenant," the report said.
Here's a list of some of the UN committee's criticisms and recommendations:
- Business: "Human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad, in particular mining corporations," should be addressed by an independent authority and a framework that give victims the possibility of legal remedies.
- Gender equality: The committee notes "persisting inequalities between women and men" in Canada and wants better equal pay legislation across the country," with a special focus on minority and indigenous women."
- Violence against women: Continued violence against women in Canada, and the "the lack of statistical data on domestic violence," led the committee to call for better legal protections for victims, and for more shelters and services.
- Missing and murdered aboriginal women: In the wake of reports on murdered and missing women, the committee said "indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by life-threatening forms of violence, homicides and disappearances." It said there should be a national inquiry.
- Bill C-51: Canada's new anti-terror law allows mass surveillance, too much information-sharing, and a no-fly list that lacks proper governance and appeal, the committee says. It suggests Canada should review the act and allow for better legal safeguards.
- Police use of force: The committee notes excessive force during protests such as those at the G20 in 2010 and recommends prompt, impartial investigations, along with prosecutions of those responsible where warranted
- Refugees and immigration: The committee worries "that individuals who are nationals of designated 'safe' countries are denied an appeal hearing against a rejected refugee claim before the Refugee Appeal Division and are only allowed judicial review before the Federal Court" — increasing the risk they may be sent back.
Other recommendations cover prison conditions in Canada, freedom of expression, native land titles, the Indian Act and the condition of indigenous people generally.
It asks for a response from Canada five years from now on what improvements and implementations have been made as a result of its recommendations.