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    November 08, 2019

    Jaya Bordeleau-Cass and André Capretti are the 2019-2020 Public Interest Articling Fellows at Amnesty International Canada. They will be posting updates about the Safe Third Country Agreement hearing throughout the week.

    The brief and frustrating answer: it’s unclear what it takes. 

    Submissions in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) challenge continued to be delivered from November 4-8th at the Federal Court in Toronto. Earlier this week, counsel for the applicants – representing Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Council of Churches, and other individual litigants – provided a general overview of the requirements for a safe third country designation, why it is unlawful, and why the operation of the agreement violates the security and equality rights of STCA returnees.

    November 06, 2019

    Jaya Bordeleau-Cass and André Capretti are the 2019-2020 Public Interest Articling Fellows at Amnesty International Canada. They will be posting updates about the Safe Third Country Agreement hearing throughout the week.

    Shame. Frustration. Rage. Disappointment.  

    Court hearings can be dry, but when we listen to the facts and stories presented over the past two days in the challenge to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), it is hard not to have an emotional reaction.

    On the second day of the hearings in Toronto, counsel for the applicants – Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and individual refugee claimants – continued to present their legal arguments and reviewed how the STCA violates equality rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter, and the rights to liberty and security of the person under section 7.

    November 05, 2019

    Today marked the first day of a week-long hearing, in which the applicants - Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches, and individual refugee claimants - are challenging the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (the STCA) in Federal Court before Justice Ann Marie McDonald.

    “Year after year, month after month, Canada willfully turns its back on refugee claimants at the border.”

    The applicants’ opening remarks, delivered by Mr. Andrew Brouwer, set the stage for the day’s arguments, which reviewed the facts, the evidence and administrative law issues.

    November 04, 2019
    Amnesty International campaign shines global spotlight on Indigenous youth fighting mercury crisis

    WINNIPEG – Indigenous youth and mercury survivors from Grassy Narrows First Nation will be the focus of Amnesty International’s largest worldwide letter-writing campaign this year, the human rights organization announced today.

    The annual Write for Rights event, which takes place around International Human Rights Day Dec. 10, is highlighting 10 cases of young people around the world who are experiencing human rights abuses, including the Indigenous Anishinaabe youth from the northwestern Ontario First Nation.

    October 31, 2019

    The Israeli authorities’ decision to prevent an Amnesty International staff member from travelling abroad for “security reasons”, apparently as a punitive measure against the organization’s human rights work, is another chilling indication of Israel’s growing intolerance of critical voices, Amnesty International said today.

    Laith Abu Zeyad, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), was stopped at the Allenby/King Hussein crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 26 October while on his way to attend a relative’s funeral. He was kept waiting for four hours before being informed he has been banned from travelling by Israeli intelligence for undisclosed “security reasons”.

    October 31, 2019

    The Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) encourages refugee claimants to cross the border unsafely and irregularly, putting lives at risk. With the arrival of winter, it’s important to take action now.

    The STCA requires that refugee claimants who arrive in Canada or the US request protection in the first country in which they arrive. However, it does not bar refugee claimants from seeking protection in Canada if they do not enter Canada at an official border crossing. 

    In response to the harsh, xenophobic immigration polices of President Donald Trump’s administration, many refugee claimants have turned to Canada for protection. Because they would be sent back to the United States if they make a claim for refugee protection at an official border crossing, many have resorted to crossing the border between official border posts. During the winter months, this is particularly dangerous: people have had amputations due to frostbite, and at least one woman believed to have been attempting to cross the border has died.

    October 30, 2019
    Write for Rights demands justice for youth from First Nation in northwestern Ontario

    WINNIPEG – Amnesty International’s annual global letter-writing campaign is taking aim at the devastating mercury crisis that youth in Asubpeeschoseewagong, also known as Grassy Narrows First Nation, have been fighting to end.

    Young people living in the Indigenous Anishinaabe First Nation of Grassy Narrows in northwestern Ontario are fighting for a healthy future for themselves and their community. Over the past 50 years, toxic mercury has poisoned rivers and fish vital to Grassy Narrows. Because of government inaction, generations of young people have grown up with devastating health problems and the loss of their cultural traditions.

    This year, Amnesty International is urging everyone to help demand justice for Grassy Narrows through the Write for Rights campaign by writing letters calling on the Canadian government to fully address the mercury crisis and end 50 years of human rights violations.

    What: Press conference with youth from the Ontario First Nation of Grassy Narrows and Amnesty International

    October 29, 2019
    Demonstrators to rally outside Toronto court in support of legal challenge to flawed Safe Third Country Agreement

    29 October 2019

    From November 4th to 8th the Federal Court of Canada will hear a challenge to the designation of the U.S. as a safe third country for refugees. The court will hear that sending refugee claimants back to the US violates Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s binding international human rights obligations.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Amnesty International (AI) and The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), alongside an individual litigant and her children, initiated the legal challenge in July 2017. The hearings are taking place at the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto, at 180 Queen Street West.

    October 25, 2019

    Our nations and organizations welcome the tabling of Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, to provide a framework for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia. The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is urging all members of the provincial legislature to support the Bill in a non-partisan manner.

    The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is made up of Indigenous Nations, Indigenous peoples’ organizations, civil society groups and individual experts and advocates. The Coalition has been deeply involved in the development, promotion and implementation of the Declaration. We are firmly convinced of the Declaration’s vital importance for achieving justice, reconciliation, healing and peace.

    October 18, 2019

    The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (which Amnesty Canada is a member of) asked all federal political parties to detail their commitments aimed at ensuring a greater respect for human rights by Canadian companies operating abroad. In a questionnaire, we asked parties to outline their positions on three key measures to increase corporate accountability:

    1.  Will your party support comprehensive mandatory human rights due diligence legislation? Such legislation requires companies to identify, prevent and mitigate human rights abuses and provides for liability when companies cause harm in their global operations (subsidiaries and supply chains).

    2. Will you make the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) independent and provide it with the power to compel documents and testimony so it can effectively investigate human rights abuse allegations linked to Canadian corporations operating overseas?

    October 17, 2019

    MEDIA RELEASE
    UP FOR DEBATE 2019

    October 17, 2019

    OTTAWA – A broad alliance of women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations has officially called off plans to host a national leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality, citing a lack of commitment from most federal party leaders.

    In March, the alliance wrote to all party leaders, inviting them to participate in a national televised debate on women’s rights and gender equality – the first debate of its kind since 1984.

    Months later, and only days away from Election Day, the only two leaders committed to debating women’s rights and gender equality issues are the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh and the Green Party’s Elizabeth May. While the Bloc Quebecois expressed interest, Up for Debate could not secure a firm commitment from the party’s leader, Yves-François Blanchet. The alliance did not receive an RSVP from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer or Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

    October 16, 2019

    OTTAWA – With less than a week until the federal election, and without a firm commitment from all federal political party leaders, a coalition of women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations in Canada is calling off plans to hold a leaders’ debate on women’s rights and gender equality.

    The Up for Debate campaign called on all federal party leaders to participate in a national debate focused on women’s rights and gender equality – a topic that has been largely absent from the party platforms and televised debates. Days before voters head to the polls, Up for Debate is calling on all federal party leaders to clearly articulate their commitments to address the rights of women, transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit people in Canada, including how they will tackle poverty, income inequality, violence, and support for women’s rights and equality-seeking organizations.

    What: Press conference with Up for Debate coalition members

    Date: October 17, 2019

    Time: 10 a.m.

    Location: 135-B Press Conference Room in West Block

    October 15, 2019

    Amnesty International is welcoming news that Maryam Mombeini has finally reunited with her two sons in Canada, more than 18 months after Iranian authorities separated the family at Tehran’s airport.

    In a heartfelt video posted to Twitter, Maryam is seen embracing her sons, Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami, at the Vancouver International Airport on October 10. It had been 582 days since they had last seen each other.

    “We are grateful to the Canadian government, and specifically Foreign Minister Freeland for their unwavering support from day one. We are also thankful to Iran for allowing our mother, Maryam Mombeini, to finally leave and join us in Vancouver,” said Ramin in a statement sent to media and shared with Amnesty International.

    “We have been overwhelmed with an amazing outpour of love and support from everyone. And we cannot be happier to have such an amazing network of friends and family, who’ve stood by our side through thick and thin.

    October 10, 2019
    Andrew Scheer standing behind a podium labelled 'Fair Immigration Equitable'

    On 10 October 2019, Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, went to Roxham Road in Quebec to announce a revised “immigration policy,” including closing the “loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement. The news release continuously uses the disparaging and inaccurate term “illegal” to describe people who are exercising their legal and human rights to seek refugee protection in Canada, and irresponsibly conflates Canada’s refugee protection system with it’s immigration system.

    Alongside a number of courageous refugee protection claimants, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Refugees and the Canadian Council of Churches are challenging the Safe Third Country Agreement in Federal Court on 4-8 November 2019.  These organizations will argue that the United States is not safe for many refugees, particularly under the harsh policies adopted by President Donald Trump’s administration.

    We’ve made some notes to help Andrew Scheer better communicate about refugees, and perhaps reconsider some of the policy proposals included in this press release.

    October 08, 2019
    National coalition urges leaders to address women’s rights, gender equality

    With gender issues largely absent from last night’s federal leaders’ debate, a new video ad is urging all candidates to finally speak up on women’s rights and gender equality.

    Up for Debate, a national alliance of women’s rights and gender equality advocates, posted the short ad online Monday night, just as the six federal party leaders took to the stage for the English debate.

    The alliance has also invited the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic, Bloc and Green parties to participate in a separate televised debate on women’s rights and gender equality. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party leader Elizabeth May have committed to participate. Up for Debate has not yet received a firm commitment from the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives or the Liberals.

    “It’s been 35 years since federal party leaders debated women’s rights and gender equality,” states the ad, referring to the 1984 federal leaders’ debate on women’s issues.

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