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C-51 Among Topics UN Human Rights Committee Considering This Week

Written by  iPolitics.ca Tuesday, 07 July 2015 02:22
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The United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo Credit: Tom Page via Wikimedia CC

by Amanda Connolly

The government’s controversial anti-terrorism legislation, C-51, will be among the topics studied by the United Nations this week as part of a periodic review of how well Canada is upholding its international human rights obligations.

The Guardian reported Monday that the U.N. human rights committee will hear from Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with several other groups, as part of the review. Both groups are expected to raise oft-cited concerns about the terrorism legislation’s broad reach and lack of oversight, as well as Canada’s decision to begin revoking the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or spying.

“This is an important process for Canada to either demonstrate or explain on the world stage, and before an expert body, its record on humans rights pursuant to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” - Sukanya Pillay, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

“This is an important process for Canada to either demonstrate or explain on the world stage, and before an expert body, its record on humans rights pursuant to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Sukanya Pillay, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “We are there to ensure the body questioning Canada, the human rights committee, knows of our many concerns regarding civil liberties in Canada, including Bill C-51, equality rights, aboriginal persons, police and conducted energy weapons, as well as the treatment of refugees.”

Is Bill C-51 necessary?

It’s been 10 years since the committee last examined Canada’s record with regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which 167 other countries are also party to.

A delegation of government representatives will appear before the committee, made up of 18 independent experts, where they will have the chance to make a statement and answer questions about their record.

While the bill initially had solid public support in light of the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent October by violent radicals, that quickly faded as an increasingly loud chorus of criticism swelled against the bill, calling for increased oversight and limits on how personal information about Canadians can be shared between departments.

Since C-51 was introduced in January, the government has touted it as a necessary means to protect Canadians from terrorists and expand the ability of government departments to share information on individuals deemed a threat to national security.

While the bill initially had solid public support in light of the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent October by violent radicals, that quickly faded as an increasingly loud chorus of criticism swelled against the bill, calling for increased oversight and limits on how personal information about Canadians can be shared between departments.

The Liberals have said they support the bill but would make amendments to it if elected but the NDP have said they would repeal the bill entirely, with the Conservatives attacking both as being soft on terrorism.

Among other issues outlined for consideration by the committee are questions related to how Canada is monitoring human rights conduct of Canadian oil and mining companies abroad, what steps are being taken to support equal pay for equal work for women and men, and the extent of steps being taken to compensate Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, who were tortured with the involvement of Canadian officials in Syria and Egypt.

The committee will also request additional information on steps the government has taken to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by police in the 2012 Quebec student riots and will ask for information on the progress that has been made to investigate the disappearances of missing and murdered indigenous women.

The findings of the committee, which are not legally binding, are expected to be issued on July 23.


Published in Partnership with iPolitics.ca

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