OTTAWA, March 10, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today responded to a report released earlier this week by a United Nations Human Rights Committee that examined Canada's record from 2005 and found Canada is falling short in respecting the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples.
"The report is the latest in a series that confirms Canada is not meeting its obligations with respect to the human and inherent rights of Indigenous peoples," said National Chief Bellegarde. "The Prime Minister has promised he will take steps to correct these injustices. We look to the federal budget on March 22 as an important opportunity for Canada to make meaningful strides in closing the gap in the quality of life between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians."
Much of the report deals with activities and initiatives underway by the previous federal government. In its concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted areas of progress, such as the commitment to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. However, most of the report expressed serious concerns about areas where Canada is falling short in respecting the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples. The report makes recommendations in a number of areas that have also been a focus of First Nations calls for action. These include:
- That Canada fully recognize the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples in its laws and policies and apply it in practice;
- That Canada establish effective mechanisms that enable meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making in relation to development projects being carried out on, or near, their lands or territories;
- That Canada effectively engage Indigenous peoples in the formulation of legislation that affects them;
- That Canada in consultation with indigenous peoples improve the enjoyment of Covenant rights by Indigenous peoples;
- That Canada increase federal and provincial funding to indigenous peoples commensurate to their needs, and work out solutions to ensure coordinated and accountable implementation of indigenous peoples' rights by all jurisdictions;
- That Canada implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the recommendations put forward by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples following his 2013 mission to Canada;
- That Canada ensure that trade and investment agreements negotiated by Canada recognize the primacy of Canada's international human rights obligations over investors' interests;
- That Canada fully comply with the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;
- That Canada intensify efforts to address the housing crisis and ensure access to safe drinking water and to sanitation;
- That Canada address the impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples and fully engage with Indigenous peoples on policy, programme design and implementation.
"The Prime Minister has committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," National Chief Bellegarde said. "Working together, we can achieve these goals and improve the quality of life for First Nations peoples, and Canada's international reputation on human rights and Indigenous issues."
Monday's report was issued by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its State parties. Canada ratified the treaty in 1976. The report is available online: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fCAN%2fCO%2f6&Lang=en
The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow #AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 382, 613-292-0857 or [email protected]; Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 401, 613-314-8157 or [email protected]