UN Human Rights Office calls for examination of MMIWG inquiry's genocide claim
The United Nations Human Rights Office is urging the federal government to probe the national inquiry's conclusion that violence against Indigenous women and girls amounts to genocide, CBC News has learned.
"The national inquiry found reasons to believe that Canada's past and present policies, omissions and actions amount to genocide, under international law," UN spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in an email statement.
"Given these findings by the inquiry, we call on the government to take steps for competent national authorities to assess these serious claims."
The UN's call comes just as its High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, arrives in Ottawa for a series of meetings this week with the prime minister and senior government officials.
The focus of Bachelet's visit is supposed to be about promoting human rights and gender equality around the world, but Canada's own record on those issues is expected to be scrutinized.
"The very first thing I'm sure the commissioner's going to want to see is what is the plan on the part of Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to address the conditions of genocide that he's admitted," said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a law professor at the University of British Columbia.
"The fact that the prime minister said 'genocide' triggers an international process."
UN wants Canada to implement inquiry's recommendations
The federal government has accepted the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, including that of genocide, but has referred to the term in the past tense.
"Our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ and two-spirit people," wrote a spokesperson for the Office of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
"The National Inquiry has presented their final report and recommendations including a conclusion that the tragic violence that Indigenous women and girls have experienced amounts to genocide. We have accepted their report and respect their conclusions. We will take the time to review the report."
The UN is encouraging Canada to effectively implement the inquiry's recommendations, including the development of a national action plan to ensure equitable access to jobs, housing, education, safety and health care.
The UN Right Rights Office is ready to offer technical assistance to Canada, according to Shamdasani.
Meanwhile, activists in Canada are ready to hold the government to account.
"I think that it is deplorable that grassroots activists had to advocate for decades for this inquiry," said Jacqueline Hansen, gender rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada.
"This is a problem that has long been known ... This is a stain on Canada's human rights record, and so we want to see what this inquiry leads to is change."
The UN is not the first international body to urge Canada to dig deeper into the claim of genocide against Indigenous peoples.
The Organization of American States is also awaiting a response from the federal government to launch an investigation.
More to come.
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