SUMMARY OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S SUBMISSIONS TO THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
Canada underwent its 8th and 9th review of its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women before the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in October 2016. Amnesty provided written submissions at two stages of the review process: to assist the Pre-Sessional Working group to determine the list of issues the Committee would consider during the review; and during the review itself.
In our submissions, Amnesty International recognized that Canada has taken measures to advance women’s rights and gender equality, both in Canada and globally. Canada is a party to multiple human rights conventions that guarantee the human rights of women and girls. Important domestic legal protections exist within Canada, including at the level of a constitutionally-entrenched guarantee of equality, which offers women a strong framework for protecting their rights. Canada has long championed initiatives at the UN that aim to bolster the protection of women’s human rights and promote gender equality, including by bringing forward an annual resolution on violence against women at the UN Human Rights Council.
Despite these efforts, Amnesty International’s submissions highlighted that too many women and girls in Canada continue to experience gender-based violence and discrimination. Amnesty International is concerned that Canada has failed to implement previous recommendations issued by the Committee with regard to discrimination and violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls. Amnesty International stressed that we remain concerned that recommendations regarding the rights of migrant and refugee women also remain unimplemented. As such, Amnesty International focused its briefings on its concerns about Canada’s implementation of the Convention as it relates to the rights of Indigenous, migrant, and refugee women and girls in Canada.
OUTCOMES OF THE REVIEW
In its Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women made a number of recommendations for Canada to strengthen its implementation of the Convention domestically. Among its recommendations, the Committee stressed that Canada must enhance efforts to combat all forms of gender-based violence against women and increase reporting of violence experienced by women. While the Committee welcomed Canada’s decision to establish a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, it recommended that Canada ensure that the process is consistent with human rights, that the mandate of the inquiry cover investigation of the role of police forces and public complaints commissions across all jurisdictions, and establish a mechanism for the independent review of cases where there are allegations of inadequate police investigation. The Committee further recommended that Canada develop an integrated plan for addressing the socioeconomic conditions affecting Indigenous women and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Canada’s eighth and ninth periodic reports to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (April 2015, CEDAW/C/CAN/8-9)