Amnesty International and UN call for Canadian construction to stop on indigenous lands

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called for the Canadian government to halt construction of its Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, the Site C dam and the Coastal GasLink pipeline, over land owned by First Nation peoples.

The 1,150km Trans Mountain Pipeline carries oil from Alberta to British Columbia. Also in British Columbia is the Site C dam, a US$6.7bn 1.1GW hydro project on the Peace River, and the $30bn, 670km Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Amnesty International has written an open letter to Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, John Horgan, premier of British Columbia, and Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta, citing a release by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD).

As well as stopping construction of the projects, the UN CERD also urged the Canadian state do the following:

  • Create a "legal and institutional framework" for indigenous peoples which to allow adequate free consultation
  • Immediately stop the forced eviction of Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples, and guarantee that no force will be used against the two First Nations peoples by the Canadian authorities
  • Prohibit the use of lethal weapons against indigenous peoples
  • Encouraging the state to seek advice from the UN on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Amnesty International notes that UN CERD has previously found numerous times where Canadian authorities have not obtained free, prior and informed consent by indigenous peoples.

UN CERD mentioned that it was "disturbed" by disproportionate use of force, forced removal, harassment and intimidation by Canadian law enforcement against indigenous peoples peacefully opposing projects on their traditional territories.

Amnesty International say the minimum expected from Canadian officials is the "immediate suspension of construction of these three major projects", and consultations with indigenous peoples meeting humanitarian law are granted.

Amnesty International also hopes Canada do not attempt to "justify their failure to live up to international human rights obligations", by arguing that either it can sacrifice the rights of one group to economically benefit another, or that there are already sufficient national laws in place to protect human rights.

Image: Police at a protest against the Trans Mountain Pipeline in 2014 (Mark Klotz/CC BY 2.0)

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  1. Considering there are only 2 countries with functional democracies on the board of the UN CERD (and no I’m not counting the USA!) I find their finding have more than a whiff of hypocrisy!

  2. We need to mobilize our people to condemn the Canadian Prime Minister for his governments continued transgression of the indigenous peoples’s right to protest against the pipeline deal. Please lets flood the Prime Minister’s office with thousands of emails condemning his government. Can Amnesty formulate an email petition similar to that of Greenpeace?

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