UN says Canada violating native women's rights, urges probe

6th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Canada's failure to properly investigate widespread violence against aboriginal women and girls, including disappearances and murders, constitutes a "grave violation" of their rights, a UN watchdog said Friday.

The Canadian police and justice systems have failed to effectively protect aboriginal women and girls from violence and to hold perpetrators accountable, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) concluded in a report.

"Aboriginal women and girls are more likely to be victims of violence than men or non-aboriginal women, and they are more likely to die as a result," committee members Niklas Bruun and Barbara Bailey said in a statement.

"Yet despite the seriousness of the situation, the Canadian state has not sufficiently implemented measures to ensure that cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women are effectively investigated and prosecuted," they said.

Aboriginals account for less than five percent of Canada's population, or about 1.4 million, according to the last survey in 2011.

Yet young aboriginal women are five times more likely to die of violence than other women in Canada, and 3.5 times more likely to report violence, including domestic abuse and sexual assault, NGOs say.

A 2014 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police meanwhile identified 1,181 murdered or missing aboriginal women dating back to 1952. Of these, 120 homicides and 105 missing cases remain unsolved.

Aboriginal groups say the trend is rooted in poverty, discrimination and poor education that plagues many indigenous communities, and have urged the Canadian government to hold a public inquiry.

But the federal government has refused to do so, viewing the disproportionate number of deaths and disappearances as resulting from domestic violence.

In its report Friday, the 23-member UN committee concluded that Canada had not done enough to provide aboriginal women equal protection before the law and to provide effective remedy to victims.

It also said the country had not done enough to fight and eliminate harmful stereotypes.

"The violence inflicted on aboriginal women is often rooted in the deep socio-economic inequalities and discrimination their communities face and which can be traced back to the period of colonisation," Bruun and Bailey said.

The committee provided Canada with a list of 38 non-binding recommendations to improve the situation, including the creating of a national inquiry into the murders and disappearances.

© 2015 AFP

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