For Canada’s international human rights standing, 2012 was an annus horribilis.
This year three UN expert committees rated the country’s performance on meeting rights commitments — and returned a failing grade.
“These mandatory reviews are carried out every four or five years, and it just happened that this year Canada was the focus of three,” said Alex Neve, who heads Amnesty International Canada. “It’s a wake-up call that although we have things to be proud of, there are many fronts where we have long-standing issues that need to be addressed.”
An Amnesty report released Wednesday says that committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture and children’s rights found “a range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” especially for indigenous peoples.
“By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis,” it said.
In response to Amnesty’s report, Rick Roth, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said, “we are proud of the work we’ve done to advance freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law at home and around the world.”
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