Critical Moment For Canada During UN Review

At a critical moment when Canada’s human rights record will be laid bare before the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva, it is high time for the country to finally put words into action and to ratify the OPCAT.

For over 12 years Canada has repeatedly garnered international praise for stating it would consider ratifying the instrument, but doing precious little in practice during this time to make this intention a human rights reality.

In the meantime scores of other countries have done so, and successfully put in place National Preventive Mechanisms.

Far too often Canada’s federal structure has been used as an excuse for inaction vis-a-vis OPCAT ratification. Yet political structure has not prevented other federal states from doing so, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Switzerland.

Critical moment UNCATDuring the reviews of Canada by the UN Committee against Torture in 2005 and 2012 the country was twice called on to consider ratification of the OPCAT. In 2012 the UN Committee urged Canada “… to accelerate the current domestic discussions and to ratify (the OPCAT) as soon as possible.”

Six years on, there is no clear sign that OPCAT ratification is on the near horizon.

For this week’s UN Committee examination of Canada, 13 civil society entities have submitted shadow-reports for the consideration of this expert body (all shadow-reports can be read here). Of these submissions, six civil society actors have advanced information on the OPCAT, making key recommendations (please see the examples below).

This time around, Canada needs to use this critical moment to reflect on these key recommendations and to make good on its repeatedly verbalized intention to consider OPCAT ratification.

UN Web TV will broadcast the UN Committee’s examination of Canada live on 21-22 November. Interested persons can tune-in in real time at 4 am ET on 21 November and 9 am ET on 22 November. Alternatively, readers can watch audio-visual recordings of the process on demand afterwards.

The Canada OPCAT Project will issue updates on the UN review process as the week unfolds. Please watch this space!

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The Canada OPCAT Project’s shadow-report can be read here.

Critical moment for CanadaAmnesty International’s recommendation to Canada: “Reconfirm that Canada intends to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, provide a public report on the progress of consultations with provincial and territorial governments, and seek to accelerate those consultations towards a successful outcome.”

 

Critical moment for Canada

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has urged: “That Canada ratify the OPCAT and ensure that it provides the NPM with an appropriate legislative mandate and adequate resources to effectively carry out its work.”

 

 

 

Critical moment for Canada

L’ACAT Canada et la FIACAT invitent le Comité contre la torture à recommander au Canada, en partenariat avec les gouvernements des provinces et des territoires, de : (1) Respecter sa promesse de ratifier, dans les plus brefs délais, le Protocole facultatif à la Convention contre la torture (OPCAT); (2) Assurer la mise en place à tous les niveaux de mécanismes de suivi et de contrôle de tous les lieux privatifs de liberté en conformité avec l’ensemble des exigences définies par l’OPCAT et mettre en place un processus public de suivi de la mise en œuvre des recommandations de ces instances.”

Critical moment for Canada

ICLMG’s shadow-report: “We recommend that CAT urge Canada, once again, to ratify the Optional Protocol as soon as possible.”

 

Critical moment for CanadaThe APT’s shadow-report has called on the Canadian authorities to: “Accelerate the current consultation process with all relevant stakeholders on the implications of OPCAT ratification. Based on those consultations, ratify the OPCAT and designate or establish one or several NPMs, ensuring that those mechanisms are independent and granted with the legal mandate and necessary financial and human resources to effectively carry out their work, in accordance with the OPCAT.”

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