Updated: January 10, 2020
B.C. Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender issued the following statement regarding the recent decision statement by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
“In my lifetime, there has never been a more important time for Canada to demonstrate support for institutions of democracy. As international institutions face attacks from leaders who shirk accountability, our responsibility to respect these institutions grows stronger.
This week, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called for Canada to halt three resource projects until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all Indigenous peoples impacted by the projects. As a signatory to the Convention to End Racial Discrimination, Canada has obligations to the CERD. Moreover, B.C. and Canada have—or plan to—legislate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As such, we have obligations to ensure free, prior, and informed consent exists for all impacted Indigenous groups before projects impact lands.
CERD’s statement raises the alarm about the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. Indigenous peoples who oppose development projects on their traditional territories should never be met with violence for peaceful opposition. I join CERD in urging Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc peoples, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, and to guarantee no force will be used against them. This is a matter of fundamental human rights.
Canada cannot simultaneously vie for a seat at the Security Council while ignoring their obligations to other parts of the UN. It is critical to the future of human rights that Canada and B.C. cement the credibility of our institutions by meeting our obligations.
This is the hard work of true reconciliation, this is the hard work of democracy.”
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