Human rights minister a good first step:
TorontoSun.com – news/canada
Last Updated: . By Althia Raj, Parliamentary Bureau, OTTAWA
Canada could soon have a minister of human rights after an all-party committee recommended one minister be charged with tracking human rights obligations in the country.
The House of Commons’ foreign affairs subcommittee on human rights said in its latest report that Canada’s human rights obligations are spread across at least three departments making it difficult to measure any progress or hold anybody responsible.
Canada was heavily criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009 for failing to address extreme poverty and curb violence among Aboriginals.
Cuba and Iran, as well as traditional allies such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland, pointed the finger at Canada, chastising it for allowing deep levels of inequality to take hold.
The subcommittee said Canada needed to do a much better of job of engaging civil society groups as it prepares for its next council review in 2013.
“If Canada wants to remain a leader in human rights internationally, then Canada must take this opportunity … to address the challenges it has been facing in this area for years,” the MPs wrote.
“According to several witnesses, Canada’s international reputation is at stake,” the subcommittee said, bolding the last comment for emphasis.
Amnesty International Canada’s secretary general Alex Neve said a senior minister responsible for human rights would help improve the situation on the ground.
“It wouldn’t solve it on its own but it is an important step forward,” he told QMI Agency.
The recommendations urge the government to designate ministerial responsibility for the domestic implementation of Canada’s human rights obligation; for the monitoring of Canada’s human rights record and reporting those finding to appropriate UN bodies; and that the minister be given the necessary tools and resources to carry out the mandate.
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