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Canada

    September 18, 2020

    On September 23rd, a new session of Parliament will begin and the government will deliver a Throne Speech, outlining their priorities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated this Throne Speech will be a 'roadmap out of the pandemic towards a soceity that is fairer and more welcoming.' 

    Amnesty International has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and his cabinet, urging them to implement a genuinely transformative human rights agenda. 

    September 17, 2020

    Following the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations are calling on Canada to end weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. This follows a recent report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, which specifically names Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

    “Canada has now been publicly shamed in front of the international community for its ongoing weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, while the devastating war in Yemen rages on,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. “Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred this government’s unrelenting support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. It has ignored the groundswell of civil society opposition to these exports. Hopefully, the UN’s report will provoke a different response.”

    September 14, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    September 10, 2020

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We write this Open Letter, on behalf of 400,000 supporters of Amnesty International across the country, in times of considerable uncertainty, turmoil, injustice and fear; but also of mobilization, courage, determination, and possibility.

    Against that backdrop, you have indicated that your government’s upcoming Throne Speech will lay out a “plan to rebuild a stronger, more resilient Canada” and offer a “roadmap out of the pandemic towards a society that is fairer and more welcoming.” Central to those goals is the imperative to implement a genuinely transformative human rights agenda. This Throne Speech must acknowledge that respect for human rights will be central to all aspect of adopting laws, developing policy, making budgetary choices and taking action. Towards that vision, we urge you to take up the following seven recommendations:

    September 08, 2020

    OTTAWA – The recent murder of a Liberian national who had settled in Ontario has made one thing clear: Canada is failing to bring those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes to justice.

    In late June, Bill Horace was shot dead in London, Ontario. He had been widely accused of committing mass murder, rape and torture in Liberia during the 1990s. Despite a mountain of evidence against him, Canadian officials never charged Horace, allowing him to live freely in this country since he first arrived in 2002.

    On the heels of Horace’s murder, Amnesty International is releasing a new report in the No Safe Haven series, which documents how judicial systems around the world – including those in Bulgaria, Germany and Spain – are failing to effectively prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. This latest report details how Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program is grossly underfunded and underused.

    September 05, 2020

    Years of campaigning led by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people resulted in government finally calling an inquiry to investigate the scope and scale of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit persons, and to identify solutions to end the violence. In June 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its final report, including 231 Calls for Justice. The federal government committed to creating a National Action Plan by June 2020 to transform the Calls for Justice into concrete actions, but has delayed creation of the plan, and a timeline and process to create it remains unknown.

    Normally on October 4th, hundreds of Sisters in Spirit vigils are held in communities across Canada to honour Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people who have gone missing or been murdered, and every year many Amnesty members participate in these vigils.

    September 04, 2020
    Amnesty International’s Ethical Battery Project aims to end human rights violations in the production of rechargeable batteries.

    It may surprise you to know that lithium-ion batteries – the kind found in many electronics such as laptops, cell phones and electric cars – contribute to human rights abuses around the world. Over the last few years, Amnesty’s researchers have documented child labour, environmental harms and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the countries where battery minerals are mined. We have challenged the world's leading electronics and automobile makers to develop a battery untainted by human rights abuses.

    We invite you to join our campaign for an ‘ethical’ rechargeable battery.

    September 01, 2020

    High quality, accessible, affordable, inclusive childcare is important for children, but it’s also essential for care givers—particularly women—who shoulder the burden of unpaid care work.

    As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, without access to childcare, women either take on a disproportionate share of unpaid care work in the home, balancing paid work with child care, house work, and in some cases home schooling—or they reduce their work hours, take leaves of absence from work, or leave their jobs entirely. In August, Statistics Canada reported that mothers whose youngest child was 6-17 years old were the furthest from returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.

    If unpaid care work was equally distributed between people of all genders, access to childcare might not be so central to ensuring that the rights of women are respected, protected, and upheld. However, ongoing gender discrimination leads to women carrying out the bulk of unpaid care work, including childcare, making access to childcare very much a women’s rights issue in Canada.

    September 01, 2020

    The climate crisis is a monumental threat to human rights, like nothing humanity has ever experienced before.

    Last year, millions of people marched in climate strikes organized by youth around the world, demanding urgent action to stop the climate crisis.

    The next global climate strike will take place virtually on Friday, Sept 25th and we hope you will get involved!

    Here are five ways to participate in the climate strikes:

    1. Youth climate justice webinar – Join our climate justice webinar on Tuesday September 22nd. More information, bios of the amazing youth climate activists who are the panelists for the event, and the registration link are all here!

    September 01, 2020
    Protesters march on Hiawatha Avenue while decrying the killing of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Amnesty International must honestly and openly confront concerns about anti-Black racism within our organization, historically and currently. We are moving towards meaningfully addressing systemic oppression, internally and externally, beginning with acknowledgment of allegations and harms. 

    Activists against anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada have raised troubling questions about the possible role of Luis Kutner — said to have had leadership roles in the early years of Amnesty International and/or Amnesty International USA — in events that led to 21-year-old Black Panther leader Fred Hampton being shot and killed in December 1969 by the FBI and local police in Chicago.  FBI documents, declassified in 2018, reveal information Kutner provided to the FBI prior to the raid that resulted in Fred Hampton’s murder at the hands of police. 

    September 01, 2020

    The Federal Court of Canada has found, for a second time, that the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement is unconstitutional. It violates section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to life, liberty and security of the person. 

    Under the STCA, refugee claimants must claim protection in the first country in which they arrive in most cases.  The agreement assumes the US is a ‘safe’ country which upholds international human rights and the Refugee Convention.  

    However, Justice Ann Marie McDonald found that refugee claimants returned under the STCA often face arbitrary immigration detention in conditions that “shock the conscience.” She recalled the case of Ms. Mustefa, a refugee claimant who was turned away by Canada under the STCA, only to be locked in solitary confinement in a freezing cold cell and given meals that she could not eat due to her religious beliefs. When Canadian officials return claimants to such conditions, they are complicit in that mistreatment. 

    August 30, 2020

    Communities have been speaking out for decades about how Black people experience policing in Canada. It’s time to listen: racism is not up for debate – it’s systemic.

    Amnesty International unequivocally supports frontline groups and activists in communities across the country who work courageously and tirelessly to expose that systemic racism and demand justice for the growing number of BIPOC who have been wrongly arrested, mistreated or killed by police across Canada.  

    A Comprehensive reform agenda should:

    August 28, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing gender inequalities as public health guidelines and lockdown measures lead to higher rates of gender-based violence and less access to sexual and reproductive information and health services including gender-affirming care. School and daycare closures and restrictions have substantially added to the unpaid care work disproportionately carried out by women. In a few short months, we have gone back to 1980s levels of women’s labour force participation, with fears the situation will become ever more dire as the pandemic wears on.

    Not all women, girls, and gender diverse people are experiencing the pandemic in the same way. Women, girls, and gender diverse people who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour; people with disabilities, LBTI folks, sex workers, refugees and migrants, and people living in poverty already faced heighted risks of violence, discrimination, and other human rights violations, and the pandemic has further heightened these risks.

    August 28, 2020

    The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report on June 3, 2019. The 1,200 page report included 231 Calls for Justice to end the staggering levels of violence experienced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and two-spirit persons in Canada.

    The federal government accepted the report’s finding of genocide and committed to developing a National Action Plan to prevent and address the violence by June 2020. However, government delayed development of the National Action Plan, citing the pandemic as a cause for delay, and the timeline and process to develop the plan remains unknown. The federal government has also not provided an official response to the National Inquiry's Final Report.

    With levels of gender-based violence rising because of the COVID-19 pandemic, action cannot be delayed any longer.

    The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has said that the failure to provide a comprehensive, coordinated response to violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit persons is a grave human rights violation.

    August 20, 2020

    In 2019 the Canadian government appointed an Ombudsperson to ensure justice and remedy for individuals and communities harmed by Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies operating overseas. However, the Canadian government failed to give the Ombudsperson the powers needed to conduct effective investigations (for example, the Ombudsperson cannot compel corporate disclosure). Without an effective Ombudsperson, the individuals and communities who seek justice for allegations of murder, sexual violence, dispossession from their land, dangerous and exploitative working conditions, poisoning of land and water, and other human rights abuses, will continue to be unable to have their voices heard in Canada.

    July 30, 2020
    Lake Quesnel - Not Forgotten

    In the six years since the Mount Polley tailings pond burst through its containment dam, a small group of committed community and Indigenous activists have inspired people across Canada to take action in solidarity with them. Their goal is to call everyone to justice who made decisions that led to the disaster on August 4, 2014. 

    They also want the Province of British Columbia to suspend the company’s permit to pipe mine waste-water directly into Quesnel Lake. Since April, thousands of Amnesty activists have signed our petition to the BC government calling on them to pull the discharge pipes from Quesnel Lake.  

    Scientists researching the impacts of the disaster on Quesnel Lake tell us the pressure is working: the province recently re-started a water testing group to investigate troubling reports of ongoing contamination of the lake. 

    But more than ever, pressure is needed to protect Quesnel Lake from further contamination. 

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