Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is Canada ignoring its international obligations?

Canada is a country that prides itself on its beliefs in liberty, equality and democracy. We have a positive reputation internationally and are in good standing with most of the countries in the world. This image of Canada as a just nation is one which we like to propagate to the rest of the world. Canada is a member of the United Nations and has a strong voice when it comes to matters of equality, human rights and liberty. To the outside world we like to make ourselves appear as a benevolent, altruist state yet when it comes to our domestic policies we show another side of our character completely. The Canadian government’s use of security certificates are clearly contradictory to the image we like to spread.

It is evident that security certificates are a gross violation of human rights. As some of the other posts have explained the accused are detained for unknown reasons and are subject to inhuman conditions while being imprisoned. There have also been numerous reports of torture and requests for basic necessities which go ignored.

Recognizing human rights and the reason why we have them are vital for a democratic and just nation. After World War Two, international agreements and covenants were implemented to ensure that everyone was accorded certain inherent rights. The Universal Deceleration of Human Rights was created to achieve this goal. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The current treatment of the detainees in Canada is in clear violation of the declaration. Article 9 states that "no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile," and Article 10 follows "everyone is entitled in full equity to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him." It is evident that by using security certificates, Canada is violating these articles.

Canada is also violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was entered into force on March 23, 1976. Article 14 of this covenant says that everyone who is charged with a criminal offence is entitled "to be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him." Again, the detainees being held in Canada are not always informed of the reason for their detention. They are often left in the dark.

By agreeing to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Canada also agreed to the declarations "standard of achievement for all peoples and nations." Following the agreement shows the legitimacy of a government. By not following it, the Canadian government is decreasing its political legitimacy. The ideals of this declaration need to be upheld and it is the responsibility of both the government and the citizens of this country to make sure that Canada fulfills its obligations. We cannot simply theoretically agree to a monumental document and then proceed to do as we please. It is essential that Canada does as it has promised to the international world and uphold the reputation that we have. The reason for upholding it is not because it will make us "look good" to the rest of the world but rather because it is good.


For more information please refer to Universal Human Rights In Theory and Practice, Second Edition by Jack Donnelly

2 comments:

I bluntly said...

Yah unfortunately this is not the first time.

Canada also supports Israel which is violating many human rights resolutions as outlined by the UN.

I really find it disgusting that Canada is violating human rights in their own country.

The only reason they allow this is because its not people of European-descent. I truly believe that.

Remember when Kanye said `Bush does not care about black people`? Canada is doing the same thing. They dont arbitrarily arrest these kids in high school who wanna shoot up the place.

Its like when cops get shot, they find 'em right away. But if non-cops get shot, they give up on the case.

Its sad that Canada doesnt see everyone on a human level. I'm truly losing confidence in Canada's mission of liberty for all.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I think this can really change the way Canadians think about the government. I am also losing confidence in our belief in liberty and in our government as a whole.