What is the UN human rights committee?
The UN Human Rights Committee is composed of 18 human rights and legal experts from across the globe, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Japan and Canada.
All signatories to the UN’s human rights covenant are required to submit to periodic assessments of their internal human rights situations.
What the UN Human Rights Committee is telling Canada:
– Ensure that all Canadian corporations respect human rights while operating abroad.
– Make more of an effort to ensure that Canadian men and women – especially minority and indigenous women – are paid equally for work of equal value.
– Adopt sufficiently clear legal safeguards to offset extra powers of surveillance given to security agencies under recent amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Act. Independent judiciary should be involved in surveillance decisions.
– Ensure that all allegations of ill treatment at the hands of police are independently investigated by “strong” independent bodies.
– Stop detaining asylum seekers for indefinite periods and find non-custodial alternatives.
– Address overcrowding in prisons and jails and stop using solitary confinement as a regular punishment. Improve access to treatment facilities for mentally ill inmates.
– Renew Canada’s “traditional commitment” to the promotion and protect of freedom of expression and avoid the sort of violence and repression that occurred at the G20 summit in 2010 and during Quebec student protests in 2012.
– Stop using the Income Tax Act to strip NGOs of charitable status as a means of placing “unnecessary restrictions” on their efforts to defend human rights.
– Address the disproportionately high rate of incarceration of indigenous Canadians and find alternatives to detention.
– The committee worries about “Excessive use of force by law enforcement officers during mass arrests in the context of protests at federal and provincial levels, with particular reference to indigenous land-related protests, G20 protests in 2010 as well as student protests in Quebec in 2012.”
– It expresses concern about gender inequality in Canada and makes several recommendations to improve the lives of aboriginal Canadians.
– The report also urges Canada to get a grip on Canadian companies operating abroad – especially mining companies – and introduce an “effective, independent mechanism” to investigate human rights abuses by those companies.
– It raps the federal government for what it characterizes as attempts to limit the activities of civil rights groups by revoking their charitable status.
“This isn’t about whether Canada has the best or worst reputation in the world,” he said. “It is about whether we still have work to do to ensure that human rights are fully upheld and respected in the country, and the UN is telling us that we do,” Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General.
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