Canada has dismissed a number of recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council, including a call for reviewing violence against aboriginal women. On Thursday, Canada responded to the Geneva-based body, which is conducting its Universal Periodic Review of Canada’s rights record on a number of issues related to poverty, immigration and the criminal justice system. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government had received a total of 162 recommendations in the review on how to improve its country’s human rights record.
“Governments raised critical, concrete recommendations touching on numerous human rights shortcomings that are well known to Canadians,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English Branch. He added, “This included alarming levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls, nationwide poverty and homelessness, and Canada’s lagging record of ratifying international human rights treaties. Other areas included the rights of Indigenous peoples, refugee protection, corporate accountability, national security and women’s equality.”Among those countries calling for a national review into the disappearances, murder and sexual abuse of aboriginal women, were Iran, Norway, Cuba, New Zealand and Slovakia. Shawn Atleo, national chief of Canada's Assembly of First Nations was also critical to Harper government’s response to the UN recommendations saying that there is a deep concern among the aboriginal population over Ottawa's refusal to conduct a national review of the violence. "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. This is not the first time Ottawa has been urged to address concerns about its aboriginal population. Canada faced similar calls in 2009, when it was last reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council. Furthermore, Human Rights Watch presented in February a critical report alleging police abuse of aboriginal women in the western province of British Columbia. The rights organization also urged the Harper government together with the provincial government to form a national commission of inquiry, a measure that was endorsed by the National Democratic Party, the Green party and the Assembly of First Nations. CAH/KA