Thursday, March 8, 2007

UN warns canada ...

Term 'visible minorities' may be discriminatory, UN body warns Canada
March 8, 2007 | CBC News

Canada should reconsider using the term "visible minorities" to define people facing discrimination, a United Nations anti-racism watchdog reports, suggesting the phrase itself is discriminatory.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report Wednesday on how Canada is living up to an international treaty aimed at eliminating racism.

While Ottawa is praised for some initiatives — including the establishment of a number of committees to fight discrimination and the toughening up of legislation against hate crimes — a number of concerns are raised relating to other issues.

Among those is the use of the term "visible minorities," which the committee says "may not be in accordance with the aims and objectives of the Convention."

The convention is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which says distinction based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is discriminatory.

It calls on Canada to "reflect further" on the use of the term visible minorities.

The 16-member group also expresses concerns over the heightened risks of discrimination resulting from increased national security measures, including the Anti-Terrorism Act and the use of security certificates.

Canada should continue to review its national security measures, the report says, and undertake "sensitization campaigns" to protect people from being labeled as terrorists.

Canada is also taken to task for not making sufficient progress in tackling discrimination against aboriginals, who they say continue to face discrimination in employment and are under-represented in public offices and government positions.

The report also accuses the police of using a disproportionate amount of force against African-Canadians and says that there is a disproportionately high rate of incarceration of aboriginals.

Canada should consider alternatives to prison wherever possible for aboriginals because of the negative impact caused by separating them from their community, the report recommends.

As well, the committee raises concerns over Canada's treatment of undocumented migrants and stateless persons whose asylum applications have been rejected. It calls on the government to provide both groups with access to social security, health care and education.