SUMMARY OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S SUBMISSIONS TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Canada underwent a review of its compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in August 2017. Amnesty International provided written submissions to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Our submissions drew attention to Amnesty International’s concerns with respect to the rights of Indigenous peoples and refugees and migrants. Amnesty International highlighted the following concerns:
- The heightened risk of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls, along with the lack of an independent mechanism in place to re-examine cases with inadequate or biased investigations;
- Canada’s failure to institute adequate data collection procedures to create a better understanding of the violence against Indigenous women and girls, the lack of national protocols and minimal training for police, and the lack of shelters on First Nations reserves;
- Canada’s piecemeal approach to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which may lead to incomplete implementation;
- Canada’s violation of the land rights of indigenous peoples, particularly the construction of the Site C dam and the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in British Columbia;
- The federal government’s failure to provide sufficient funding to meet the needs of First Nations children and families;
- Canada’s failure to adopt legislative measures to ensure that the activities of Canadian transnational corporations outside Canada do not impact Indigenous rights abroad;
- Insufficient safeguards against arbitrary immigration detention subjecting noncitizens to human rights abuses, including a lack of upper time limit for immigration detention;
- Housing children in immigration detention facilities and lack of adequate health care and mental health care in immigration detention;
- The continued existence of the Designated Foreign National regime under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which results in negative consequences for certain groups of individuals including mandatory detention and lack of access to the Refugee Appeal Division;
- The gap in the provision of healthcare for undocumented migrants;
- The continued existence of the Canada/US Safe Third Country Agreement, which heightens the risk of refoulement, creates a possibility of criminal prosecution, and subjects individuals to unsafe and deplorable conditions in the US.
OUTCOMES OF THE REVIEW
In its Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination noted several concerns with Canada’s compliance with the Convention. These concerns include the absence of a national action plan against racism and the lack of adequate anti-racism framework legislation in all provinces and territories. Also of concern were racist hate crimes, racial profiling by police and border agents, and the disproportionate incarceration of indigenous peoples and African-Canadians, including in solitary confinement. Employment and education discrimination against racialized persons was also noted. The Committee raised concerns with the inadequate access to justice provided to victims of Canadian transnational corporations whose activities negatively impact the rights of persons outside Canada.
Concerning Indigenous peoples, the Committee noted Canada’s failure to fully adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Also of concern was Canada’s violation of the land rights of Indigenous peoples, the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and the lack of an independent mechanism to re-examine cases of violence against Indigenous women and girls with inadequate or biased investigations.
Regarding migrants and refugees, the Committee raised concerns regarding the absence of a time limit on immigration detention, the detention of migrant children, the consequences of the Safe Third Country Agreement, the poor conditions faced by temporary migrant workers, and the lack of access to health care for undocumented migrants.
The Committee requested an interim report from Canada within one year on four issues of urgent concern, including the Site C dam, Mount Polley, immigration detention, and the Safe Third Country Agreement. On 4 March 2019, Canada submitted its interim report providing updates and information on these four areas.
Amnesty International put forward a follow-up submission in response to this interim report to point out ongoing areas of concern. These include Canada’s decision to not respond to the Committee’s recommendation about Site C in the interim report and the failure of Canada’s governments to withdraw approval for the Site C project. As well, we noted failures on the part of government officials to regulate the Mount Polley Mining Corporation, which did not result in an independent analysis of the health impacts of the disaster on Indigenous peoples. Amnesty called for mitigation of the effects of the Mount Polley disaster on Indigenous peoples. We noted that the current immigration detention regime, which Canada claimed is constitutional, subjects individuals to the risk of arbitrary, indefinite, and unlawful detention. We also challenged Canada’s position that the U.S. is a safe country for asylum-seekers and refugees under the Safe Third Country Agreement.
“Canada Must Act on UN Recommendations” (29 August 2017)
“Canada’s record on racial discrimination under scrutiny at UN” (13 August 2017)