5 concerns raised in UN report on Canada
Published Thursday, July 23, 2015 12:17PM EDT
In its latest report on Canada, the United Nations Human Rights Committee raises concerns on a wide range of issues, including missing and murdered aboriginal women, Bill C-51, and immigration detention measures for asylum seekers.
The seven-page report, titled "Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada," was released by the UN committee on Thursday. The document is meant to act as a sort of report card on how Canada is fulfilling its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The report looks at 13 different human rights issues including gender equality, indigenous rights, prison conditions, and how Canadian businesses operate abroad.
Here is a roundup of some of the observations and concerns raised in the document:
1. Murdered and missing indigenous women and girls
The report raises concerns that indigenous women and girls are "disproportionately" affected by violence, homicides, and disappearances. "Notably, the Committee is concerned about the State party's reported failure to provide adequate and effective responses to this issue across the territory of the State party."
2. Bill C-51
While noting the federal government’s need to adopt measures to fight terrorism, the report criticized Bill C-51 for giving "a broad mandate and powers" to CSIS, that could lead to "mass surveillance" and "targeting activities" without legal safeguards.
The report also said the anti-terror law leads to "increased sharing of information among federal agencies, on the basis of a very broad definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada." This "does not fully ensure that inaccurate or irrelevant information is shared," it added.
3. Immigration detention, asylum-seekers and non-refoulement
The report raises issues with Canada's procedures for detaining migrants and asylum-seekers who enter the country "irregularly."
In particular, it raised concerns that migrants and asylum-seekers who are designated as an "irregular arrival," may be detained for an unlimited period of time.
It also raised concerns over how these migrants and asylum-seekers would be subject to mandatory detention, and would not enjoy the same rights as those who arrive "regularly."
The report also took issue with 2012 funding cuts, which resulted in "irregular migrants losing access to essential health care services."
4. Gender equality
The report notes the "persisting inequalities between women and men," taking particular issue with the pay gap that, "disproportionately affects low-income women, in particular minority and indigenous women."
It noted that legislation relating to equal pay varies across different levels of government, and in the public and private sectors. The report also noted the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in both the public and private sectors.
5. Business and human rights
The report raises concerns about "allegations of human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad," particularly in the mining sector.
It also raises concerns about "the inaccessibility to remedies by victims of such violations."
It said the UN committee "regrets the absence" of an independent body that could investigate complaints and allegations of abuse by Canadian corporations operating overseas.
Overall, the report criticizes the Canadian government for its failure to enact the recommendations made by the committee.
"The Committee is concerned about the State party's reluctance to comply with all Committee's Views and Interim measures under the Optional Protocol and the Covenant in particular when they relate to recommendations to re-open Humanitarian and Compassionate applications," it said.
The report concludes by asking Canada to submit a report in July 2020, detailing how it has moved to implement the UN committee's recommendations.
With files from The Canadian Press