Canada's 'sham' response to UN human rights review

Harper government rejects or partially rejects more than half of all recommendations contained in the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Canada.

Ottawa (11 June 2009) - Amnesty International Canada has expressed disappointment with the Harper government's response to a United Nations (UN) report on the country's human rights record.

The response, given formally on Tuesday to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, rejected outright 14 of 68 recommendations contained in the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review of Canada for 2009. Another 22 recommendations were partially rejected.

Amnesty said Canada failed to make meaningful commitments to address human rights concerns such as native land claims issues, poverty, domestic violence, racial profiling and rules on police use of Tasers.

One high-profile recommendation rejected outright called for a new policy that would commit Ottawa to seeking clemency for all Canadians facing the death penalty in other countries around the world. The response by the Harper administration said Canada would continue to decide clemency on a case by case basis.

Elsewhere, the response denied claims that Canada uses racial and religious profiling as a national security tool. Canada claims it is already in compliance with recommendations in the UN council's review.'Good reason to be skeptical'

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty's Canadian operations, called the Canadian response a sham in many respects, notably on the issue of racial profiling.

"A growing number of Canadian Muslims and Arabs who have experienced serious human-rights violations in the context of national security investigations have good reason to be skeptical," Neve said. "Canadian Arabs, Canadian Muslims and, in fact, all Canadians deserve much more than a blithe assertion that Canada does not engage in profiling."

Neve also said the government's claim that Taser use is under careful scrutiny is false. "Canadians know that regulation of Taser use in this country is woefully inadequate," Neve said.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) addressed labour issues in a submission to the review. The full text of the periodic review, Canada's response and NUPGE's proposals to the UN council are available at the links below.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGEMore information: