Geneva, Switzerland - November 8, 2023. The Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS) is at the forefront of an international effort during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada at the United Nations in Geneva. The UPR mandates Canada to defend its human rights record and share its progress on recommendations from the 2018 UPR. BCAS is dedicated to spotlighting systemic discrimination against Black workers within the Canadian federal public service, including the egregious human rights violations at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
As an integral part of a delegation led by Amnesty International, BCAS stands alongside Chief Na’moks - Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, Jérôme Bacon Saint-Onge, Vice-Chief, Conseil des Innus de Pessamit, France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director of Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, and Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English-speaking section.
The delegation engaged in diplomatic discussions with member states, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), and the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. They shed light on pressing human rights issues in Canada, including the documented human rights violations against Black and racialized employees at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
In a speech at the Palais des Nations, BCAS executive director Nicholas Marcus Thompson declared:
It is high time that we address these deeply entrenched issues and hold the Canadian government accountable for its failure to protect and uphold the rights of its citizens, particularly its Black workforce. The urgency is further heightened by the context of the UN Decade for People of African Descent, which underscores the imperative for recognition, justice, and development for people of African descent.
Thompson announced BCAS's intention to file a formal complaint with GANHRI, seeking a comprehensive review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's rating. GANHRI plays a pivotal role in accrediting national human rights institutions and has the authority to decertify or downgrade their ratings. This action aims to ensure that institutions violating human rights, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, are held accountable and uphold their human rights obligations.
BCAS emphasized the immediate need for Canada to implement permanent measures to combat anti-Black racism and discrimination. The organization called for the release of the Employment Equity Task Force Report and urged swift implementation of its recommendations. Additionally, BCAS urged Canada to appoint a special representative to combat anti-Black racism and a Black Equity Commissioner to collaborate on addressing systemic issues in the public service.
Various member states, including Palestine, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Egypt, China, Korea, Uganda, and Burkina Faso, have called on Canada to address systemic discrimination, particularly concerning people of African descent. Watch their statements below.
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