Canada defends human rights record during UPR
May 11, 2018
During Canada’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last week at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), members of the Council urged Canada to improve its treatment of Indigenous people, in particular women and girls. Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould presented the national report and highlighted Canada’s reconciliation efforts in developing a ‘recognition and rights framework’ for indigenous peoples. Canada agreed to support the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal women behind bars.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urges Canada to work with all stakeholders in implementing the recommendations. “Key recommendations involve the core concerns of indigenous groups and need to be met in full” said Sanjoy Hazarika, CHRI’s International Director. “It is heartening to note that Canada has pledged it commitment on major issues ” he added.
During the UPR, 107 countries made recommendations to Canada on a variety of issues including rights of indigenous peoples, sexual and gender based violence, discrimination, trafficking, poverty and justice systems. From the Commonwealth, Australia, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Zambia made recommendations to Canada to holistically address poverty and homelessness in indigenous communities, combat gender based violence and enhance women’s participation, implementing an effective strategy for reducing the backlog faced by Immigration and Refugee Board. There were calls for Canada to ensure better living conditions for persons with disabilities and migrant workers, combat all forms of discrimination against ethnic minorities and indigenous people, extend the mandate of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry and implement all 'calls to action' from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In addition they urged Canada to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
The minister appraised the Council about Canada’s intention to implement the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Canada is reviewing and amending its criminal justice system with a view to combat gender based and sexual violence, strengthening sexual assault laws, securing victim's safety in cases of domestic violence. Canada also explained its strategies to reduce poverty and homelessness within indigenous community.
Canada previously participated in UPR reviews, in 2009 and in 2013. During these cycles, 87 states made 330 recommendations to Canada, of which it accepted 219.
The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
The Council comprises of 47 members and during the UPR any country can make recommendation to the State Under Review. One of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
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