Canada set to receive failing grade at first UN human rights review in a decade

For immediate release

July 6, 2015 (GENEVA, Switzerland) – The Canadian government should be preparing itself for a failing grade as it enters its first human rights review at the UN in a decade, says Voices-Voix, a coalition endorsed by over 230 organizations and 5,000 individuals across Canada.

On July 7 and 8, Canada's record on protecting and promoting human rights over the past 10 years will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The review is part of the country's obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights.

While the committee's report will only be released on July 23, the Voices-Voix Coalition believes Canada's delegation should be prepared for a tough reception.

The coalition recently released a report showing how, since 2006, the government has muzzled watchdogs, hung whistleblowers out to dry, cut funding to First Nations, veterans, women's groups and social justice organizations, upped surveillance and intimidation of human rights advocates, curtailed environmental protection, and effectively slapped gag orders on scientists and public servants.

The report, “Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada,” is based on an analysis over the more than 110 case studies published by the group since 2010, online at http://voices-voix.ca.

Recent visits by UN representatives to Canada echo these concerns:

In March 2015, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said that the government's failure to investigate and address the deaths of missing and murdered Indigenous women a violation of their international human rights obligations.

Last year, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples found the government's handling of problems faced by Indigenous communities to be "insufficient."

In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food raised an alarm about our food insecurity and worsening economic inequality levels. And before that, the UN Rapporteur on the right to housing noted the heavy impact of inadequate housing and homelessness on the right to life.

“When we connect the dots and look at the sum total of changes, it's clear that federal policies over the past decade have changed Canada dramatically when it comes to fundamental values such as upholding such critical human rights as free expression and non-discrimination,” says Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada and a member of the Voices-Voix Strategy Group. “The changes are deeply worrying but they are not irreversible.  It is time to turn things around.  That is the message we have brought to Geneva.”

Mr. Neve will be in Geneva to follow the review and will be speaking with committee members before the review session begins.

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Contact:

Geneva:
Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada & Voices-Voix Strategy Group,  613-852-3927

Canada:
Tim McSorley, Voices-Voix Co-ordinator, 514-561-9919

For more details on the review: http://voices-voix.ca/en/news/un-human-rights-committee-review-canadas-rights-record