“Blockades are necessary to confront illegal settler colonial invasion” of pipeline workers: Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel
On August 7, Secwepemc land defender Kanahus Manuel tweeted: “#blockades are necessary to confront the illegal settler colonial invasion happening right now with canadian owned tarsands pipeline and #transmountain man camp.”
Human rights norms support her assertion.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
First, there is the context of free, prior and informed consent.
In December 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued this decision that called on Canada “to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all the Secwepemc people, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.”
The Committee monitors the implementation by states of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that Canada ratified in 1970.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on blockades in Colombia
In June of this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a visit to Colombia to report on possible human rights violations in relation to the ongoing national strike. It issued this report the following month.
Their report cautions that: “The Commission considers that the absolute prohibition of any blockade … could constitute a restriction disproportionate to freedom of expression, demonstration and assembly.”
“The IACHR considers that in the current context Colombian inter-American standards on the right to protest and freedom of expression can contribute to a better understanding of the scope of these rights and its possible restrictions.”
And the report further highlighted: “In the current Colombian context, it is noted that the generic official rating of the blockages as illegal behaviors can lose sight of the specificities of each particular roadblock, as well as affecting the possibility of reaching solutions negotiated through dialogue and mediation.”
The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), which Canada joined in 1990.
IACHR on violence against Indigenous women in Canada
In June 2019, the IACHR called on Canada to “protect and guarantee the human rights of Indigenous women and girls, given the findings of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.”
That final report concluded that “work camps, or man camps, associated with the resource extraction industry are implicated in higher rates of violence against Indigenous women at the camps and in the neighbouring communities.”
The IACHR further urged “Canada to act with due diligence in the prevention, sanction and reparation of all acts of gender-based violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to take concrete actions, with the participation of Indigenous women, to implement the recommendations issued on the matter.”
UK Supreme Court
And in June 2021, The Guardian reported: “Four demonstrators who formed a blockade outside a London arms fair have had their convictions quashed by the supreme court, in what has been hailed as an affirmation of the right to protest.”
Two members of the court stated: “There should be a certain degree of tolerance to disruption to ordinary life, including disruption of traffic, caused by the exercise of the right to freedom of expression or freedom of peaceful assembly.”
PBI-Canada continues to follow the situation on Secwepemc territories.