The United States
The United States has historically had a mixed record on human rights, but has consistently been among the highest ranked nations overall on global indices of democracy, corruption, human and civil rights. With respect to measures of democracy, the U.S. has recently fallen from a Full Democracy to a Flawed Democracy and is ranked 25th overall, well behind its neighbor Canada, which is 7th. Functioning of Government is now 7.14 on a 10-point scale with concerns raised over public trust in government institutions, divisive political partisanship, and a strong trend toward concentration of power in the executive branch and the presidency – all of which have led to a domestic loss of confidence in government and a shift toward authoritarian political culture. The executive branch’s America First approach, as evidenced by the trade war with China and the declining reliance on international diplomacy coupled with aggressive and isolationist treatment of its traditional allies in the West, has had a significant negative effect on the reputation and credibility of the country among its partners. The coddling treatment of authoritarian states such as Russia, the Philippines, and India has similarly damaged its reputation in human rights. The nation’s rank on Civil Liberties, at 8.24, is well below the average of its counterparts in Europe and Australasia (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020).
Over the past few years the United States has been regressing from its former role as a human rights leader, notably in the growingly inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees, the continuing mass incarceration of prisoners (including children), the abuse of solitary confinement, a retreat on the rights of LGBTQ individuals, racially-biased law enforcement, and a pronounced national narrative of xenophobia and racism (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
The U.S. is a party to two major international human rights treaties – the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, however the United States is one of only two countries in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention, which protects children’s rights, requires that subject parties shall not deprive children of their liberty.
Criminal Justice System
With 2.2 million in jails/prisons and 4.5 million on probation and parole, the United States continues to report the highest rates of criminal incarceration in the world (Human Rights Watch, 2020). The United States imprisonment rate (number of prisoners per 100,000 people) is 737, followed by Russia at 615. (World Population Council, 2020). The death penalty is legal in 29 states and federal imposition of the death penalty resumed in 2019 after a moratorium of 16 years (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
About 4.5 million individuals are in community correctional supervision (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2018). Just under half (46%) of offenders were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes (Federal Bureau of Prisons. 2018). African-Americans comprise 33% of the prison population and are incarcerated at a rate that is six times that of whites. Hispanics, who constitute 16% of the population, comprise 23% of the prison population. The imprisonment rate for black women is about twice as high as for white women (Pew Research Center, 2018; Human Rights Watch, 2020).
With increasing public awareness of the number of inmates who have been incarcerated for decades, often for nonviolent crimes such as drug possession, there was a 10% decrease in incarceration rates. Moreover, the high costs of incarceration on state and federal budgets is prompting state reduction of incarceration rates and early prisoner releases (Human Rights Watch, 2020). Bipartisan legislation has allowed for reform, such as The First Step Act of 2018 that has resulted in the release of more than 3,000 people from prison.
Poor defendants who have been charged with a crime, but not convicted, are often incarcerated because they cannot afford to post bond. An unfortunate result has been that defendants opt, or are coerced, to plead guilty to secure an earlier release (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Alarmingly, large numbers of children are routinely incarcerated in the United States. On average 50,000 children and youth are imprisoned at any given time and all 50 states permit the prosecution of minors in adult criminal courts. Over one thousand minors have been sentenced to life terms. Minority children are at much greater risk of incarceration and black children are disproportionately serving time. Migrant children who have crossed the border without authorization are detained, often for months, and unauthorized migrant and refugee children have been forcibly separated from their parents and imprisoned in separate facilities.
In the American prison system, there is a widespread use of isolation, which it can be argued is a form of torture. According to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, torture is any state-sanctioned act “by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for information, punishment, intimidation, or for a reason based on discrimination” (United Nations, 2020).
The United States has the highest rate of solitary confinement in incarceration in the world (Prison Policy Project, 2020). There are more than 80,000 adults and children in solitary confinement in the United States; a situation in which they are in solitary lockdown for 22 to 24 hours a day, with severely limited human contact, inadequate health and mental health care, constant surveillance, and lack of access to prison programs (American Society of Friends Committee, 2020). Solitary confinement has demonstrable adverse effects on the psychological health of inmates (Haney, 2018). It also adversely affects physical health and reduces the reintegration of prisoners into society upon their release (Shalev, 2014).
Racial Justice, Profiling and Policing
Another ongoing issue is the selective policing of people of color. The Human Rights Watch World Report of 2020 reports that there were approximately 783 people shot and killed by police in the United States in 2019. Of those whose race was identified, 20 percent were black (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
In the United States, Black and Hispanic residents are more likely to be stopped by police than Non-Hispanic Whites. They are also more likely to have multiple contacts with police, are more likely to be threatened, and are more likely to have force used against them. As a result, minorities and people of color are far less likely to initiate contact with police to seek help or report crimes (Prison Policy Initiative, 2018).
Mass Shootings and Gun Violence
The United States has the highest rate of gun violence and mass shootings in the world. A person is killed by a gun every 15 minutes. People of color bear a disproportionate cost of gun violence; Black and Hispanic Americans are far more likely to be victims (Weigend, 2019).
It is estimated that there are more guns in America (393 million) than the total population (Small Arms Survey, 2018). The arms industry has privileged protections and cannot be sued or held liable for the injury its products cause. This is due to legislation to protect weapons dealers under the PLCAA Bill (Law of Protection of the Legal Arms Trade).
According to the Gun Violence Archive (2020), a mass shooting is any incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter. In 2019, there were 417 mass shootings in the U.S. The United Nations has contended that mass shooting attacks are rooted in racism, xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination and white supremacy (Schlein, 2019).
The Law on Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Armed Violence (H.R. 4999 / S. 2469), which was introduced in 2019, would annul PLCAA and abolish its immunity. The bill would allow Americans to hold firearm manufacturers and dealers accountable for the damage caused by the weapons they sell. Given the power and funding of gun lobbies in Congress, its passage is exceedingly unlikely.
Poverty and Inequality
Income inequalities in the United States are clearly indicated with the top 10% of Americans averaging more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90%. The top 0.1% makes 196 times of the bottom 90% of Americans (Inequality, 2020). There are about 40 million people who live in poverty in the United States, the highest level in five decades (Human Rights Watch World Report, 2020).
In 2018, one in six children lived in poverty, which is 11.9 million (16.2%) of all children (Poverty USA, 2020). Women in the U.S. on average earn 85 cents for every dollar that men earn. There are 21.4 million (12.9%) women living in poverty compared to 16.8 million (10.6 %) men living in poverty (USA Today, 2020). Poverty rates by race in order are: Native Americans (25.4%), Blacks (20.8%), Hispanics (17.6%) Whites (10.1 %) and Asian Americans (10.1%).
Rights of Non-Citizens
The United States continues to be a country of immigrants with ~44.7 immigrants currently residing in the U.S. (Batalova, Blizzard, & Bolter, 2020). The Trump Administration has developed and enforced much stricter and exclusive measures on immigration policy and has ignored the rights of asylum seekers, leaving many refugees unprotected under international law (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Under the current administration, there has been an increase in apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border with 851,508 apprehensions in 2019, the highest in 12 years (Pew Research Center, 2020). With tougher programs such as the “Remain in Mexico” program there has been over 55,000 asylum seekers returned to dangerous conditions in Mexico and Central America to wait while their claims are being adjudicated (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
The demographics of those migrating to the U.S. has changed with most being from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Most are migrating in families who are fleeing their countries due to violence, criminal victimization and a lack of economic opportunities (Pew Research Center, 2020). This has led to an increase of family incarceration and the most egregious violation of human rights – the forced separation of children from their parents. Children are held in inhumane jail like conditions without contact with family or access to basic human needs such as showers, beds, or medical care for weeks (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Older Person’s Rights
Issues with consent and psychotropic drugs continue to affect those within the nursing home and long-term care communities. These abusive practices that seek to control behavior have allowed for inhumane and degrading treatment of the elderly (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Women’s and Girl’s Rights
Under the Trump Administration, a new gag order on a federal program called Title X has undermined the sexual and reproductive rights of women. The population that gets hit the hardest due to this gag order are young and low-income women (Human Rights Watch, 2020). Under this rule, any recipients (agencies) receiving funding from Title X are prevented from providing information regarding all pregnancy options and denied reproductive freedom (Hasstedt, 2019). This has caused at least 18 of the grant recipients to leave the program and has left at least 30 states with no Title X networks (National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, 2019).
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The Supreme Court ruled to allow the Trump administration to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it would eliminate nondiscrimination provisions for LGBTQ persons in its programs, grants and services.
HHS also proposed rules that would allow health care providers to refuse to care for patients whose identities conflict with providers’ “religious belief or moral conviction” or would force providers “to act contrary to one’s belief” (Human Rights Watch, 2020; Fenway Health, 2020). At the state level there is also limited protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, only 20 states have protections through laws for housing, employment, or public accommodations (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Human Rights Issues
A total of 8,736 Mexicans were registered in the National Registry of Victims, denouncing having suffered violations of their human rights from December 2018 to December 2019 (SEGOB, 2020).
Criminal Justice System
According to the Humans Right Watch (HRW) World Report, 98 percent of crimes in Mexico still remain unresolved for reasons which include corruption, inadequate training, extortion, threats from organized crime, limited law enforcement resources, bribery, and law enforcement complicity with criminals (HRWWR, 2020).
The Human Rights Watch World Report stated that Mexico has a history of relying on military forces to fight crime, which can lead to major human rights abuses. The National Human Rights Commission in Mexico received between 2012 and 2019 more than 4,600 complaints about alleged military abuses. (HRWWR, 2020).
Mexico created the National Guard in 2019 to assist in fighting crime. This force was intended to be civilian, however the leadership, the forces, and the equipment for the National Guard are funded by the Mexican armed forces and thus allow the Mexican armed forces to be involved in public security tasks (HRWWR, 2020). In 2019, Mexico passed a law that allows the use of lethal force “to repel highly dangerous resistance.” This new law has attracted the attention of Amnesty International and raises concerns of military abuse (Amnesty International, 2019).
Mexico is a country of origin, transit, and destination for human trafficking victims. According to the US Department of State, in 21 of the 32 Mexican States there is sex tourism. Mexican States such as Tlaxcala and Puebla have direct human trafficking connections with the US and Europe (Comision Unidos vs. Trata, 2020). Tenancingo, in the State of Tlaxcala, is the Mexican hub of human trafficking (Amezcua, Padgett, & Peralta, 2020).
According to the American Bar Association, there are 47 identified criminal groups engaged in human trafficking in Mexico (Comision Unidos vs. Trata, 2020). The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico estimates that “there could be between 50,000 and 500,000 human trafficking victims in Mexico from people forced into prostitution to those forced to work for drug gangs” (Rivera, 2016).
In 2019, the Mexican Secretary of Security and Civilian Protection estimated that there were 666 cases of human trafficking in that country. Those with the most reported cases were Mexico City with 211, Mexico State with 85, and Chihuahua with 77. These three states account for more than half of the cases in Mexico (Secretaria de Seguridad y Proteccion Ciudadana, 2020)
The report also includes statistics on other crimes in Mexico not explicitly categorized as “Human Trafficking” but labeled as “Corruption of Minors” with over 2,419 cases. These cases could well fall within the UN definition of Human Trafficking. Furthermore, sometimes crimes are categorized as homicides and not human trafficking (Secretaria de Seguridad y Proteccion Ciudadana, 2020).
Statistics, however, account only for reported cases and not necessarily actual cases. Each state in Mexico is responsible for compiling its own official statistics based on the reports of the special prosecutor offices dedicated to investigating these cases of human trafficking crimes; there is concern about the accuracy of these statistics.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child elevated the best interests of the child as a fundamental international norm. All measures concerning children have primary consideration (Article Three) and are becoming a character of general international law (Aguilar, 2008). In 1990, Mexico signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and it was ratified by the Senate. Mexico is obliged to adopt measures for the application of criteria that promote the best interests of the child and the decisions of the courts of justice (Supreme Court of Justice, 2012).
Nearly 40 million children reside in Mexico (SEGOB, 2019). Of that total, 21 million live in poverty. One in five missing people are children and every 30 minutes, one of them arrives at a hospital for injuries caused intentionally (CNDH, 2019). Also, every day on average, 34 girls are impregnated in acts of sexual violence, often within their own family (Martinez, 2019). Twenty-two thousand children, mostly from Central America, migrated into Mexico during 2019, many of them were in a perilous situation (El Universal, 2019).
Mexico created the National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents (SIPINNA for its Spanish acronym) to uphold the principle of the best interest of the child of both Mexican and migrant children. The country is adopting measures for their protection and for guaranteeing their access to health and education (Supreme Court of Justice, 2020).
One of the sectors most affected in the widespread context of violence in Mexico is that of women. Between 2015 and 2019 there were 3,628 femicides at the national level. Statistics gathered by the National Public Security System (SESNSP for its acronym in Spanish) showed that 72 cases of femicides were reported in January 2020.
The National Survey on the Dynamics of Home Relations determined that of the 46.5 million women aged 15 and over in the country, 66.1% (30.7 million) have faced violence of some kind by an aggressor at least once in their lifetime (CNDH, 2020). On average, 10 women in Mexico are murdered every day. According to the United Nations, 1 out of 3 women in Latin America has experienced sexual or physical violence. Only two percent of gender-related killings are prosecuted (UN Women, 2019).
On March 9, 2020, thousands of women gathered in Mexico, as part of a nationwide strike to protest violence against women, and demanded the government take action. The strike, called “A Day Without a Woman,” protested the longstanding problem of femicide and the forced disappearance of women abducted from streets, offices, and classrooms across Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s response to the protests was that he was not going to change the strategy to combat femicides and violence against women (Agren, 2020).
Journalists and Human Rights Defenders
A hostile environment continues to exist for journalists and the media. 11 journalists were murdered in 2019 (Ramos, 2020). The victims mainly reported the infiltration of organized crime into state politics. The Committee to Protect Journalists included Mexico, along with Somalia, Syria, and Iraq, in the list of countries with the greatest impunity to solve cases of the killing of journalists (Reporters without Borders, 2020).
Human Rights Defenders
From December 1, 2018, to November 30, 2019, 17 human rights defenders were murdered. The victims mainly advocated for the territory of indigenous peoples. 52% of the murders occurred in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca (Voces Mesoamericanas, 2019).
As of December 31, 2019, the General Prosecutor Office (FGR for its acronym in Spanish) reported that it had started 73 investigations and had 127 pending cases. Four convictions were obtained.
In Mexico, 17.8 % of the population is indigenous, 7,382,785 people aged three years and over speak an indigenous language; the most widely spoken are Náhuatl, Maya and Tzeltal (Senate of the Republic, 2019).
The drug cartels have waged a direct war against indigenous communities, especially those in which they encounter organized resistance, such as that of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI). The CNI is the most significant expression of indigenous resistance since the Mexican Revolution (Camacho, 2019).
Indigenous populations are coerced and extorted by organized crime and forced to flee drug violence and murder. Indigenous communities have reactivated community police, community guards, and self-defense groups. Clashes with organized crime are common (Camacho, 2019; CNI, 2019). On February 26, 2020, the CNI called on the people of Mexico and the Human Rights Commission denouncing President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador for orchestrating the 24-hour kidnapping of a group of indigenous people from the communities of San Antonio Bulujib and Guaquitepec, municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, for the defense of their territories (CNI, 2020).
The Ministry of the Interior will promote a constitutional and legal reform on the rights of indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples (Guzman, 2019). So far (March 2020), there has been no progress.
In January 2020, The Mexican Secretary of the Interior presented the Report on Illegal Graves and National Registry of Missing Persons (SEGOB, 2020). According to the Secretary of the Interior in Mexico and the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Population and Migration, there were 873 illegal graves identified in 519 different locations from 2018 to 2019. These illegal graves contained a total of 1,124 bodies, only 395 of which have been successfully identified.
The states with the most cases of illegal graves identified are Sinaloa, Colima, Veracruz, Sonora, and Jalisco, which together make up for 61% of the total missing persons (SEGOB, 2020). The head of the CNB also stated that of the 61,637 currently missing persons, 74% were men and 26% were. In addition, 53% of the missing persons are between the ages of 15 and 35 (SEGOB, 2020).
The case of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa
On September 26 and 27, 2014, at the Ayotzinapa Rural School in Iguala, Guerrero, six people were deprived of their lives, 42 had physically injured, and 43 students from were disappeared.
A group of municipal police and local criminals acted in coordination to kidnap students and took them to a nearby garbage dump to be murdered in the Iguala area. A criminal group called Guerreros Unidos threw the deceased into the garbage dump where they later set them on fire. Since October 5, 2014, the National Commission of Human Rights continued processing an investigation of Serious Human Rights Violations (FGR, 2019), but the case has not been concluded nor have the disappeared students been found.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that the Mexican government accepted its proposal for the reinstatement of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts that was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide international technical assistance from a human rights perspective in the investigation of the forced disappearance of 43 students in 2014. The prosecution appointed Omar Gomez, who was part of the group of experts, to direct the investigation. Gomez is a figure respected by the families of the 43 missing young people (Ferri, 2020).
The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH for its Spanish acronym) received 84 torture complaints between January and September 2019 (Diagnostico, 2019). The Mexican Legislature had enacted more severe measures against torture in its law published in 2017 (Chamber of Deputies, 2017). Torture is a common practice used by the authorities in Mexico for criminal proceedings and is an illegal method of criminal investigation to obtain confessions and extract information from their victims (González-Núñez, 2018). According to the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Forensic Specialists participated in 1,903 alleged torture cases in 2019.
Migrants and Asylum Seekers
In 2019, Mexico created the National Guard, which consists largely of military personnel (Roth, 2019). Migrants and asylum seekers in search of transit trough Mexico are faced with a heavy military blockade with personnel equipped with full-body armor and weapons of warfare on the border between Mexico and Guatemala.
According to the CNDH, they received 599 complaints of abuses against migrants in 2019, mostly against members of the Federal Police (Roth, 2019). The Trump Administration implemented the new policy Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) during January 2019. This policy forced asylum seekers to remain in Mexico as they were waiting for their claims to be processed and has exposed migrants to victimization by both criminal organizations and security agencies of the federal government.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Mexican government reported that 15,079 people, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, were forcibly returned to Mexican border cities in contravention to international law (the Refugee Convention) and the principle of non-refoulement, which requires that member states not deny fair hearing or return refugees to a country where they may face persecution. Due to the significant number of asylum seekers being sent back to Mexico, migrant shelters exceeded capacity, leaving thousands stranded for prolonged periods of time with no means of supporting themselves.
Mexico’s minimum wage has been extremely low for years, making it difficult for citizens and families to meet their basic needs. The minimum wage was raised 20% on Jan 1, 2020 to $123.22 pesos per day (~$5.44 US dollars).
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its revision, the United States-Mexico -Canada Agreement (USMCA), were created to expand exports and imports, create new jobs and decrease unauthorized immigration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Unfortunately, it has had several adverse residual effects. NAFTA expanded the maquiladora program by removing tariffs and increasing Mexico’s labor force, which would cheaply assemble products to be exported back into the United States. These maquiladora workers were exploited as they were being paid minimum wages for long hours. Not only are these workers being exploited for their work, many women have lost their lives as they were kidnapped, raped and killed as they were leaving their workplace in the late hours of the day. More than 60 percent of maquiladora workers are women and girls, many as young as 13 or 14 (Nieves, 2017).
Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People (LGBTI)
In May 16, 2019, the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs issued an order to all Mexican Consulates around the world that they must allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in their offices for Mexican citizens living abroad (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, 2019).
Currently, 18 Mexican States and Mexico City have passed marriage equality laws. For the rest of the states, same sex marriages are allowed, but only after a constitutional complaint (amparo) has been filed and federal courts review their cases and then their rights can be recognized (Human Rights Watch, 2019).
In December 2019, the National Association in Favor of Immigrants and Refugees LGBT was created to serve and advocate for the rights of LGBT immigrants and refugees in Mexico (Rios, 2019).
According to the Mexican National Elections Institute, starting in 2020, those who apply for their voting card (considered a national form of ID in Mexico), will have the option to choose to hide or to display their gender information on their voting cards (Instituto Nacional Electoral, 2020).
Human Rights Issues
Canada puts human rights at the top of the national agenda and leads most nations in its record on human rights. In a 10-point Human Rights scale, Canada ranks 9.22 overall, with subscale scores of 9.58 for the Functioning of Government, 9.58 for the Electoral Process and Pluralism, and 9.72 on Political Culture (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020).
Canada promotes religious tolerance and pluralism in a country that is has a large French-speaking minority and has rich culturally diversity associated with indigenous First Nations minorities and a tradition of acceptance toward immigrants. Comparatively, Canada holds a high reputation internationally as a nation that defends human rights as well as political rights that are included in the nation’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The country has a notable record with respect to the rights of people with disabilities and LGBTQ persons (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Notwithstanding an exemplary record overall, Canada contends with human rights challenges with regard to indigenous rights, fair treatment of new immigrants, and criminal justice, including solitary confinement and the incarceration of immigrants (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Canada has widespread and persistently high levels of violence against indigenous women. A National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women, issued in 2019, found that Canada has failed to on eradicate chromic violence toward indigenous women and concluded that their murder rate amounted to genocide. In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the national government has failed to guarantee adequate funding for Child and Family Services for families living on reserves.
Indigenous people face water insecurity in Canada while Non-Indigenous people enjoy water security and access to water (Hanrahan, 2017). Canada is a water-rich nation, yet safe water is not guaranteed to far too many rural native communities (Human Rights Watch, 2020).
Courts in Canada offer limited guarantees for the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples due to the scarce protection that Canadian law offers for this population. Cases brought to court for violations of their rights often take a long time to reach a decision with limited or no resolution (Gunn, 2019). As reported by the Canadian Commission on Human Rights, indigenous peoples face security, health, access to justice, and human rights challenges that require urgent attention and action (Bruce, 2017).
Precarious Immigration Status
Migrants with “precarious immigration status” often do not have equitable access to health care services in Canada or workers’ compensation benefits. A precarious immigration status is one that offers little security of residency and includes “those who are denied the permanent right to remain in Canada or whose status depends on a third party such as a spouse or employer” (Sikka et al., 2011 p. 207). Non-permanent migrants who have some sort of documentation status face the possibility of detention and/or deportation because their status is fragile. Furthermore, non-permanent migrants face the categorical exclusion from many benefits and protections such as reduced or denied access to basic services (Marsden, 2018).
Migrants with precarious immigration status face significant occupational hazards, which are perpetuated systemically, made invisible, and rendered irremediable. These hazards are found at every level and include exposure to harassment and abuse, fatigue, psychological stress, and physical hazards (Hill et al., 2019). Employers take advantage of the status of their employees with precarious immigration status, denying them health insurance, and subjecting or exposing them to occupational risks because they are aware that these employees cannot report their employers conduct without risking their stay in Canada (Marsden, 2019; Sikka, 2011).
Canada battles with the detention of children and family separation, which is not in the best interest of the children. This situation is being contested by refugee and child right’s advocates and is in violation of Canada’s international legal obligations (Gros & Song, 2016). Children and adult immigrants are detained in Canadian Immigration Holding Centers (IHCs) and about a third of immigration detainees are held in maximum security jails along with the general criminal population. While in detention, migrants are not allowed to contact professionals outside the privately contracted ones in the IHC or community services and are subjected to pervasive and tight controls (Kronick, Cleveland, & Rousseau, 2018).
Gender violence in Canada includes race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, which especially targeted women, girls, and Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019). As reported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-indigenous women. (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2017).
James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, contends that the Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women and their descendants. He calls the rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls an “epidemic” (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019). The Trudeau Administration has moved to fully investigate the problem.
As reported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, women living in Canada are at a high risk of domestic violence, sex trafficking, harassment, and sexual assault. Gender based violence is pervasive. For example, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner about every six days. Over two-thirds of Canadians know a woman who has been physically or sexually abused. Over 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters on any given night due to the absence of personal safety at home (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2020).
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