A spectacle of hypocrisy and farce’: North Korea, Iran attack Canada’s human rights record at UN forum
Nationalpost.com – Canada –
13/04/26. Adrian Humphreys
Canada was the focus of critical attacks on its human rights record at a prominent United Nations forum by a cluster of countries with dubious human rights records, including North Korea, Iran and China.
The delegation from North Korea lamented: “We have serious concerns about continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia.”
Iran railed against “violations of human rights by Canadian government” including “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups including Muslim, Arab and African communities.”
China’s delegate complained of “widespread racial discrimination in Canada.”
Pakistan was dismayed by Canada’s “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”; Egypt by Canada’s “racial profiling in law-enforcement action”; and Cuba with the “racism and xenophobia” in Canada.
Russia expressed alarm over Canada’s “police actions of torture and cruelty against peaceful demonstrators.”
Canada faced the critiques Friday in Geneva during its command appearance before the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, which looks at all UN members’ human rights records every four years.
The irony of — and irritation with — the criticism was not lost on Canadian officials.
“While we look forward to talking about our human rights record, we also take the UN’s review with a grain of salt,” a government official told the National Post. “Some of the countries ‘reviewing’ Canada, like Iran, have abhorrent human rights records. This is a country that hangs guys and stones women.”
The process turned the UN’s important work of monitoring international human rights “into a spectacle of hypocrisy and farce,” said the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.
“The continued subversion of the UN human rights system — whereby thugs, murderers and rapists purport to judge the human rights record of a liberal democracy — undermines the founding principles and credibility of the United Nations,” said Hillel Neuer, a Canadian-born lawyer who directs UN Watch.
“The UN squandered a golden opportunity to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in Canada,” he said.
“It’s the foxes guarding the chickens, with the world’s worst tyrannies abusing a legitimate process … to deflect attention from their own sordid practices.”
The UN council will now make recommendations, which Canada may accept or reject.
A total of 83 states participated in Canada’s review.
Estonia asked Canada to repeal a section of the Criminal Code that allows parents to spank their children. Montenegro wanted Canada to account for its efforts to reduce human trafficking.
Several countries, including Great Britain, asked about Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples, while the Netherlands was worried about charitable status regulations interfering with the ability of non-governmental organizations to carry out human rights activities.
Mexico was concerned with Canada’s “designated country of origin” system that lists nations, including Mexico, as places that do not typically produce refugees.
Despite the disconnect between the concerns expressed by some nations and their own records, Canada should not be too smug, activists said.
“Canada has not been listening to civil society, labour and indigenous voices in Canada,” said Meera Karunananthan, a Council of Canadians campaigner who was in Geneva this week, along with others, challenging Canada’s human rights record.
Grand Chief David Harper of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimaka, who also travelled to Geneva, said “1,880 First Nation homes in Canada do not have clean running water.”
Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, said there is concern among civil society groups about Canada’s ability to implement the UN recommendations.
Canada accepted fewer than half of the 68 recommendations from member states at the last review, partially rejecting 22 and completely rejecting 14.
“The bulk of [the recommendations] are important, relevant and appropriate,” Mr. Neve said.
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