UN Special Rapporteur says Canada should cease construction of Coastal GasLink pipeline, halt the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders

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Video still: Cali Tzay visited Canada from March 1-10 this year.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Calí Tzay, has released his report on his Visit to Canada.

On page 13 of that report, he writes:

  1. In Canada, Indigenous Peoples are taking up the fight for climate justice by opposing the construction of TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Federal Government-run Trans Mountain pipeline, projects approved without the consent of all affected Indigenous Peoples. TC Energy signed benefit agreements with band councils along the pipeline route but did not obtain the consent of hereditary chiefs who assert jurisdiction off reserve. The use of injunctions and exclusion zones around worksites have led to the criminalization of Indigenous opposition to the pipeline. Despite letters from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in which the Committee urged Canada to cease forced evictions of Wet’suwet’en people from their lands, the federal police (under contract with the government of British Columbia) conducted a series of raids using tactical officers, helicopters, assault rifles and police dogs to arrest 74 Wet’suwet’en land rights defenders. Nineteen Indigenous defenders were charged with criminal contempt for violating an injunction prohibiting entry to the pipeline construction site on the community’s unceded, ancestral territory. Five pleaded guilty, the remaining land defenders will face trial later this year and could be sentenced to prison.

On page 20, he says Canada should:

(i) Suspend large-scale mining and other business activities in the Ring of Fire region and cease construction or operation of the Coastal GasLink, Trans Mountain and Line 5 pipelines, until the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples affected is secured;

(k) Halt the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders peacefully defending their lands and resources from extractive industries and other business actors.

In his End of Mission Statement, released on March 10 of this year when he was in Ottawa, Cali Tzay also wrote (on page 9):

“During my visit, I was informed that a large number of megaprojects in Indigenous territories proceed without good faith consultation and in the absence of obtaining Indigenous Peoples’ free, prior and informed consent as, in the case of Trans Mountain Pipeline. I am also concerned about the ongoing militarization of Indigenous lands and the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders resisting the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines in British Columbia. I urge the Government of Canada to end these violations and to adopt adequate measures to guarantee Indigenous Peoples’ right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent, and their rights to lands, territories and resources.”

Cali Tzay will be at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on September 28.

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