PBI tells the UN Human Rights Council about the continued harassment of Wet’suwet’en land defenders by the RCMP C-IRG
On September 28, Peace Brigades International presented its comments in Geneva, Switzerland during the Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, José Francisco Calí Tzay.
In this video (starting at 40:09), Yannick Wild notes PBI’s concerns in Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Canada.
Wild stated: “In Canada, we draw your attention to the continued harassment of Wet’suwet’en land defenders opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Community-Industry Response Group. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has repeatedly called on Canada to remove the Mounted Police and private security from Wet’suwet’en territory.”
Special Rapporteur Cali Tzay at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, September 28, 2023.
Cali Tzay visited Canada from March 1-10 of this year.
On page 13 of his report on his Visit to Canada, the Special Rapporteur noted:
“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 stated that 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 April of last year, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued its third rebuke to Canada commenting on its “use of force, surveillance, and criminalization of land defenders”, particularly those opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
That letter expressed concern about the RCMP Community-Industry Response Group and reminded Canada of a CERD decision issued in December 2019 that called for the removal of the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory.
We continue to follow this situation.
Video: Wet’suwet’en land defender Sleydo’ and Gitxsan land defender Shaylynn Sampson arrested at gunpoint by the RCMP C-IRG unit on Wet’suwet’en territory on November 19, 2021.
C-IRG violence against the frontlines (PBI-Canada webinar, April 16, 2023)
Dismantle the C-IRG, end violence against land defenders (PBI-Canada webinar, February 21, 2023)
The full text of PBI’s comments during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur (SR) on September 28, 2023:
In its accompaniment to indigenous peoples Peace Brigades witness many of the violations highlighted by the SR.
In Guatemala, we draw the council’s attention to the increasing number of violent attacks, criminalization and judicial and extrajudicial evictions of communities claiming their rights in the face of development projects counting in part with financing by International Financial Institutions, such as the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón by Q’eqch’i communities and their struggle against the hydroelectric plants Renace and Oxec.
In Honduras we are concerned about the use of the crime of forced displacement aimed at protecting families from criminal groups but misused by the government and extractive companies to criminalize environmental defenders. This is the case of the indigenous Lencas Victor Vásquez and José Vigil, imprisoned in 2020 for almost a year and still waiting for their case to be resolved.
In Colombia, serious violations persist against indigenous peoples who defend their territories from large-scale economies, such as the Resguardo San Marcelino de Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador, where on July 29 the Kichwa community was subjected to violence by the Ecuadorian Army, with the acquiescence of the Colombian Army. We further stress the urgency for the Colombian Constitutional Court to ratify the Escazú Agreement.
In Canada, we draw your attention to the continued harassment of Wet’suwet’en land defenders opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Community-Industry Response Group. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has repeatedly called on Canada to remove the Mounted Police and private security from Wet’suwet’en territory.