Ahead of the next round of trials slated to begin for land defenders from the Wet’suwet’en Nation and their supporters, Amnesty International is calling on the government of British Columbia to immediately drop all the charges.
“Indigenous peoples who have engaged in peaceful actions to defend the land should not be criminalized solely for exercising their rights. We call on the Attorney General of British Columbia to immediately drop the criminal contempt charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters,” said Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International. “Allowing construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to proceed without the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s free, prior and informed consent disregards their right to decide what economic development takes place on their traditional territory, as set out in various international human rights instruments including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
On 11 December 2023, Amnesty International will publish a report on the intimidation, surveillance and criminalization experienced by Wet’suwet’en land defenders as they protect their ancestral territories against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The Wet’suwet’en Nation has not consented to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters are protecting the Nation’s ancestral lands and waterways against pipeline construction. In November 2021, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested dozens of land defenders during the enforcement of an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink. Authorities in B.C. laid with criminal contempt charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their allies for allegedly violating the terms of the injunction order. Several of the land defenders will go on trial on 30 October 2023.
Amnesty International raised concerns regarding these incidents with the pipeline company via letters sent and meetings held throughout 2022 and 2023, and received broad responses that did not address specific allegations.
(Header photo credit: Alli McCracken/Amnesty International)