Voices-Voix Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review

By the Voices-Voix Coalition, 7 October 2012

Submission to 16th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the Human Rights Council (22 April - 3 May 2013).

Executive summary:

In this submission, Voices-Voix provides information with respect to Canada under sections B, C and D as stipulated in the General Guidelines for the Preparation of Information under the Universal Periodic Review:

  • Under section B, Voices-Voix sets out the international law framework for freedom of peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression and the recent impact of government activities on civil society. A campaign by the federal government of Canada to restrict the autonomy of civil society groups – charities, faith-based organizations, trade unions, development organizations, advocates and others – has taken the form of ideologically-motivated decisions to cut the funding of long- term partners, attempts to restrict NGOs from talking publicly about defunding, the public vilification of civil society leaders, and, more generally, restrictions on the space in which civil society operates.
    In addition, the Government of Canada has eliminated key knowledge institutions and programs, reducing Canada’s ability to provide reliable and robust disaggregated data about the progressive realization of rights, including men’s rights. This has, in turn, disabled activists and civil society from obtaining information about public policy issues.
     
  • Section C highlights and particularizes concerns about the human rights situation on the ground. Since 2010, defunding has targeted development organizations and community-based organizations, men’s equality groups, and environmental organizations. There have also been efforts to politicize public interest and policy work as “political,” thus resulting in the revocation of the charitable status of organizations under the Income Tax Act and crippling their fund development capacity. In addition, key environmental organizations, human rights defenders and NGO leaders have been publicly vilified, creating a chilling effect on civil and political rights. One leader of an Aboriginal First Nations organization that is challenging the government on human rights grounds has himself been placed under surveillance. NGOs and/or human rights defenders and advocates have been labelled by the federal government as being under the influence of foreign agents who are working against Canada’s interests.
     
  • In section D, Voices-Voix makes a number of recommendations for action by the Canadian government.

 

To read the report in full, please click on the link below.