[JURIST] The UN Working Group on business and human rights [official website] on Thursday urged [statement] Canada to address human rights abuses resulting from business activities, both domestic and international. The experts, after a 10-day trip to Canada, specifically referred to [press release] human rights abuses taking place in countries where Canadian corporations practice business and the usage of indigenous people’s lands by Canadian businesses. The experts recommended following the guidelines set forth in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text, PDF] and the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights [text, PDF] to ensure that the natural resources of indigenous peoples are not exploited and that human rights and environmental activists in countries where Canada conducts business are not silenced. Vice-chairperson of the group, Surya Deva, said, “We acknowledge the efforts of the Government to provide remedies, but feel there are still significant gaps that need to be addressed, as victims of rights abuses still struggle to access adequate and timely remedies.” The group said that Canada’s new policies on supporting human rights defenders were a “promising first step” and also applauded Canada’s promotion of gender equality in business.
The UN has voiced concern about the rights of indigenous peoples in several nations. In April a UN Special Rapporteur referred [JURIST report] to Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people as “appalling.” In March a UN expert urged [JURIST report] the US to create an indigenous land policy. In January, another special rapporteur condemned [JURIST report] the murder of a Mexican indigenous activist.