PBI-Canada endorses call for greater human rights oversight of COVID-19 responses in Canada

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Canada has joined with 153 other organizations and 147 prominent individuals in a joint public statement calling on governments at all levels across this country to institute greater human rights oversight of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement highlights:

“Regard for human rights is essential in times of crisis. Human rights principles provide a valuable framework for government action and establish crucial safeguards against abuses. Yet respect for human rights is particularly vulnerable – tenuous at best – in times of crisis.”

“International human rights standards require that economic, social and cultural rights be equally subject to effective oversight and enforcement as other human rights.”

“Often overlooked is the greater or differential impact of the pandemic itself on First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, Black and other racialized communities (especially individuals of Asian origin), the elderly, people living with disabilities, women and children at risk of violence in the home, refugees and migrants, people marginalized because of gender identity or sexual orientation, minority official language communities, prisoners, sex workers, people who are homeless or living in inadequate housing, people who use drugs, precariously-employed workers, and other at-risk communities.”

The statement recommends “immediately establishing or identifying independent human rights oversight committees” that would, among other tasks, “track human rights violations associated with COVID response measures, including through police enforcement.”

PBI-Canada expresses a particular concern that construction on the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline, the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, and the Site C hydroelectric dam continues on Indigenous territories during this pandemic without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous nations and communities.

Among the signatories to this letter: Amnesty International Canada, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Christian Peacemakers Teams – Canada, Council of Canadians, Inter Pares, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Project Ploughshares, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Unifor, and many others.

To read the full letter, please click here.

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