Last Updated on January 24, 2019
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has released a report criticising the Canadian government for its failure to fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In what is seen as a damning indictment of the Conservative government, the seven-page report, titled, “Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada”, says that Canada’s treatment of immigration detainees violates international human rights law. The report also raises concerns on missing and murdered aboriginal women, Bill C-51, and gender equality.
Experts say the report is further proof of how far Canada has fallen under the Conservative government. Under its tenure Canada has gone from being a global leader in the protection of human rights to a country that repeatedly violates them.
One of the main concerns raised by the UN committee in the report relates to Canada’s mandatory detention of migrants and asylum-seekers. The committee expressed grave concerns that migrants designated as “irregular” by Canadian authorities are detained for an indefinite period of time, and are not given the same rights as those who arrive “regularly”.
The report also highlights recent cuts to the interim federal health program for asylum-seekers that resulted in “irregular migrants losing access to essential health care services”.
Turning to Canada’s anti-terror legislation, the report criticises Bill C-51 for giving “a broad mandate and powers” to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), allowing them to operate with few restraints which could potentially lead to “mass surveillance” and “targeting activities” based on a very broad definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada.
Regarding gender equality in Canada, the report highlights the persistence of inequalities between women and men, with a notable underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in both the public and private spheres, as well as a pay gap that disproportionately affects low-income women from a minority and indigenous background.
The report also raises concerns that the Canadian government has failed to provide adequate and effective responses to the disproportionate violence, homicides, and disappearances affecting indigenous women and girls.
Concerning Canadian companies operating abroad, the UN committee highlights allegations of violations in the mining sector and the unavailability of remedies to victims of such violations.
Overall, the report is critical of the Canadian government’s reluctance to implement the recommendations made by the committee.
Some of the recommendations of the committee include proper oversight over the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), time limits on immigration detention, and viable alternatives to detention. It also recommends granting detained migrants access to mental health treatment centres.
The report concludes by requesting Canada to submit a report by 2020 with details on how it has addressed the UN committee’s recommendations.