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Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
The Senate of Canada
Canada, K1A 0A4
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INTRODUCTION TO THE STANDING COMMITTEE
ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has a mandate to deal with issues relating to human rights generally as may be referred to it by the Senate. Within this broad policy field, the committee focuses on examining, exploring and monitoring issues of human rights.
On March 15, 2001, the Senate amended the Rules of the Senate to establish the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Since that time, it has closely monitored the implementation of Canada’s domestic and international human rights obligations and has provided through its reports, a series of recommendations for government departments and agencies. The committee has also been involved in monitoring the development of legislation and policy at the federal level with a human rights component. In addition, the committee has undertaken studies on the human rights of various groups.
During the 42nd Parliament, the committee undertook a number of short, medium and long-term studies. The human rights of federally-sentenced persons was a major study involving hearings in Ottawa as well as hearings in various regions. In addition, the committee conducted 30 site visits to federal institutions and other facilities. In February 2019, the committee released an interim report on its findings in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, Study on the Human Rights of Federally-Sentenced Persons: The Most Basic Human Right is to be treated as a Human being (1 February 2017-26 March 2018). The committee also tabled reports on the human rights of various groups including North Korean defectors, Syrian refugees, and Rohingya refugees: The Forgotten Many: Human Rights and North Korean Defectors (June 2016); Finding Refuge in Canada: A Syrian Resettlement Story (December 2016); and An Ocean of Misery: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis (February 2019), as well as a report on how Canada can use its economic levers to enhance respect for human rights, particularly with regard to Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act, Promoting Human Rights - Canada’s Approach to its Export Sector (June 2018). The committee also studied forced / coerced sterilization of persons in Canada and the Passenger Protect Program (no-fly list).
In the previous parliaments, the committee issued reports on the functioning of various international human rights instruments (8 reports) as well as reports on the human rights of specific groups: children (5 reports), public servants (4 reports), Indigenous Peoples (3 reports), women (2 reports), persons with disabilities (1 report) and persons working in the garment industry (1 report).
SELECTED LEGISLATIVE WORK
In the 42nd Parliament, the committee examined six bills including Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 and Bill C-66, An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain historically unjust convictions and to make related amendments to other Acts.
For information on the current work of the committee, you may wish to review the orders of reference the committee has received from the Senate, or review the committee proceedings. Detailed information on current work of the committee can be found on the Senate website at https://sencanada.ca/en/committees/ridr