Canada: resolution on government of Quebec commitment to human rights

Resolution adopted by FIDH 38th Congress.

Presented by: Ligue des droits et libertés du Québec

On a public inquiry into the strategic plans and police interventions carried out during the student strike and social protests of Spring 2012

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), meeting at its 38th Congress:

RECALLING THAT FIDH is a federation of 164 member organisations, one of whose main objectives is to combat human rights abuses and to promote the right of victims to remedy and reparation;

CONSIDERING THAT the many instances of police intervention during the student strike and social protests of Spring 2012 were characterised in Quebec, Canada, by violations of the rights and freedoms of demonstrators, in particular by mass and preventive arrests, by the regular use of pepper spray and irritant gases, by the use of weapons such as injury-inflicting plastic bullets, by unacceptable conditions of detention and by abusive conditions of release:

CONSIDERING THAT testimonies have revealed that there was police obstruction preventing injured individuals from receiving emergency treatment during certain demonstrations;

RECALLING THAT the Committee Against Torture had addressed Canada in 2006 concerning the abusive and dangerous use of chemical, irritant, incapacitating and mechanical weapons by law-enforcement authorities and had asked that a public and independent study be carried out concerning the use of these weapons as a crowd control technique;

RECALLING THAT the UN Human Rights Committee had addressed Canada in 2006 concerning mass police arrests, reiterating the fact that only perpetrators of criminal offences during demonstrations could be arrested, and had asked Canada to investigate police practices during demonstrations;

CONSIDERING THAT without this public enquiry, the human rights abuses observed in the Spring of 2012 may re-occur in the context of other demonstrations of social protest;

CONSIDERING THAT the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms recognises the constitutional right to demonstrate, as well as the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association;

REQUESTS the Government of Quebec to carry out an independent inquiry, the purpose of which will be:

 to identify the strategic plans adopted during the demonstrations that took place throughout the student strike and social protests of Spring 2012;

 to identify those responsible, whether political or police authorities, for the planning and coordination of the various law enforcement strategies;

 to investigate the use of weapons such as plastic bullets as a crowd control technique;

 to identify the human rights violations committed;

 to ensure that the victims of human rights abuses receive appropriate reparation.

On commitment to human rights when developing the Quebec “Plan Nord”

The International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, meeting at its 38th Congress:

RECALLING THAT FIDH is a federation of 164 organisations committed to promoting democracy and the rule of law in favour of a fair international economic and social order and, in particular, the in favour of a right to sustainable development that respects the environment;

RECOGNISING THAT the development of the Quebec “Plan Nord” raises a number of important questions around the exploitation of natural resources, the protection of the environment, as well as the type of economic and social development that this plan upholds;

CONSIDING THAT the development of the Quebec “Plan Nord” is undermining certain human rights, such as the right to self-determination, the right to access information, and the right of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to participate in the decision making process;

CONSIDERING THAT the extractive activities promoted by the development of the Quebec “Plan Nord” could affect a number of economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to water and health, the right to housing, and the right to a safe environment;

TAKING NOTE OF the opinion of the Quebec Advisory Council on Women and other women’s rights organisations, pointing out the presence of evidence of the negative impacts that the current economic boom north of the 49th parallel has on women’s rights to equality, i.e.: unreliable and low-wage employment, increase in prostitution, a weakening of the social structure that could lead to an increase in violence against women;

REQUESTS that the Government of Quebec:

 in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, establish mechanisms which will allow indigenous and non-indiginous peoples to provide input into the development of the Quebec “Plan Nord” by allowing them, in line with the rights they have inherited, to choose their own way of development and to and
dispose of the wealth and natural resources that are sought by this development plan;

 carry out not only a study on the environmental impact of each of the Quebec “Plan Nord” projects, but also an encompassing strategic environmental study of the impact that contaminants generated by the extraction methods, modes of transportation and energy projects will have on watercourses, public health, and climate change;

 conduct a gender-based analysis of the public investments projected, taking into account the specific needs of both women and men, and adopt a structuring work-force plan within the framework of the development of the Quebec “Plan Nord”, that would ensure equality for women in training and employment.

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