On September 19th, the UN Human Rights Council reviewed Canada’s record on several issues including: poverty, immigration, and the criminal justice system- according to a Canadian Press article published the same day as the review.
The review is conducted every four years. This year the issue of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada has taken center stage.
The UN Human Rights Council recommended Canada conduct a proper investigation of the issue, and review evidence that suggests a growing national problem of violence towards Aboriginal women, especially in British Columbia where it is believed Aboriginal women are the most vulnerable due to abuse by police.
These allegations mirror a report by Human Rights Watch back in February, which also recognized the abuse of Aboriginal women in British Columbia.
In response, Canada’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Elissa Golberg stood by Canada’s record of human rights, and noted that although discrimination is an issue faced everywhere, Canada’s courts, and legal frame-work are strong.
"Canada is proud of its human-rights record, and our peaceful and diverse society. While no society is entirely free of discrimination, Canada has a strong legal and policy framework for the promotion and protection of human rights, and an independent court system."
National chief of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo is behind the findings by the UN Human Rights Council, citing strong support from the Canadian public, government leaders, and other studies which have found similar findings on the abuse of Aboriginal women.
"There is strong support for this action domestically among provincial and territorial leaders and the Canadian public and strong international support, not to mention a multitude of reports and investigations that urge Canada to act, said Atleo in a statement.
After the report was tabled September 19th, Canada responded by saying it was working with, and would continue to support initiatives aimed at preventing abuse towards Aboriginal women.
“[Canada is] strongly committed to taking action with aboriginal and non-aboriginal groups to prevent and stop violence against aboriginal women through a series of federal and provincial initiatives. There have been a number of inquiries and resulting proposals for improvements over the years," says the reply.
Despite Canada’s seemingly encouraging and proactive response to the allegations by the UN, similar accusations were made during the last UN Human Rights Council review in 2009.
Although the government has said they are making improvements, evidently they aren’t getting the results needed to keep Canada off watch lists such as this, and Human Rights watch.
In October, UN special rapporteur James Anaya will be in Canada conducting his review of treatment toward Aboriginals, and Canada will get a chance to respond to any findings before the information is presented to the UN rights Council.