Statement on Canada’s Review at the UN’s Committee Against Torture

Posted on November, 20 2018 by Action Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is in Geneva this week to participate in Canada’s review before the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT).

The committee is made up of 10 independent experts that monitor implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishments. Countries party to the Convention (like Canada) are obligated to submit reports to and undergo periodic reviews by the Committee, outlining steps taken to implement rights in the Convention.

In preparation for Canada’s review, Action Canada submitted a joint report to the Committee in partnership with the Sexual Rights Initiative to bring their attention to two interconnected violations of human rights in Canada:

  • Involuntary sterilizations of women, especially Indigenous women and women with disabilities
  • Lack of access to quality Comprehensive Sexuality Education to prevent other human rights violations

Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy, which interconnects the full range of sexual and reproductive rights. The right to bodily autonomy includes the right to decide on treatments like contraception and sterilization, and it also includes the right to have comprehensive sexuality education to make informed decisions and to prevent discrimination-based violence. Action Canada is deeply concerned with the lack of federal leadership towards addressing these human rights violations. It is unacceptable that Canada uses jurisdictional challenges as an excuse to ensure all people in Canada, particularly Indigenous women, women with disabilities and young people have their rights to health, non-discrimination, to be free from violence and education upheld.

In Geneva for the review, Action Canada will engage Committee members towards securing Concluding Observations on the issues raised in the report during Canada’s review. Following Canada’s review this week (link to UN web TV to steam live webcast), the Committee will release a set of Concluding Observations to Canada. Once released, Action Canada will work hard to ensure action is taken by the Government, towards better compliance with human rights obligations.

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