SUMMARY OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S SUMISSIONS TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON CANADA’S UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Canada underwent its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council in May 2018. Amnesty International provided submissions highlighting our concerns about Canada’s ongoing flawed implementation of human rights obligations. In our submissions, Amnesty International noted Canada’s piecemeal rather than systemic approach to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as well as the delay in implementing an ombudsperson to regulate the human rights impact of Canadian extractive companies abroad and to provide accountability for their activities. We also commented on the lack of effective enforcement, and the denial of judicial protection, for economic, social, and cultural rights.
Also of concern are human rights violations against Indigenous peoples, including land rights and methylmercury contamination affecting Indigenous rights and communities; the prevalence of gender-based violence, particularly against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people; the arbitrary and unlawful detention of immigrants, denial of health care for undocumented migrants, and the exposure of refugee claimants to human rights violations due to the Safe Third Country Agreement; and concerns regarding torture, the deportation of persons to places that would put them at risk of torture or ill-treatment (refoulement), and solitary confinement.
We made several recommendations to Canada based on these concerns in our submissions.
OUTCOMES OF THE REVIEW
107 states participated in Canada’s UPR and asked questions regarding the country’s human rights record, resulting in 275 recommendations set out in the report of the UPR Working Group. The recommendations reflected concerns about the ratification of international human rights instruments (including Optional Protocols) to which Canada is not yet a party; the coordination and mechanisms of implementing human rights obligations across all levels of government; discrimination and human rights violations against racial minorities and Indigenous people; the protection of the rights and languages of Indigenous peoples, including addressing access to health, water, food security, education, and employment; violence and other discrimination against women, particularly Indigenous women and girls (including forced sterilization); racial profiling and hate crimes; human rights impacts of transnational Canadian companies operating overseas; excessive force by law enforcement and disproportionate incarceration of minority groups; employment disparities; rights for persons with disabilities; and the conditions of immigrants and refugees, particularly immigration detention and refoulement.
Canada responded to the UPR in August 2018 and accepted 208 out of 275 recommendations. Amnesty International is disappointed in Canada’s response, because these acceptances primarily confirm initiatives that are already underway and do not substantially advance the state of human rights in Canada. The lack of concrete plans and timelines to coordinate implementation of international human rights across federal, provincial, and territorial governments is concerning.
Of notable concern to Amnesty is Canada’s refusal to address concerns about inadequate protection of economic, social and cultural rights; continued inaction regarding a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls; and Canada’s continuing approval of major resource projects without the consent or partnership of Indigenous peoples.
Canada’s report to the UN Human Rights Council for its 2018 Universal Periodic Review (A/HRC/WG.6/30/CAN/1, April 2018)
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (A/HRC/39/11, July 2018)
Canada’s response to the 2013 UPR recommendations (A/HRC/39/11/Add.1, September 2018)
“The UPR of Canada is a missed opportunity to escalate human rights commitments” (Amnesty International Public Statement, 21 September 2018)