Open letter: Amnesty International urges federal government, BC and RCMP to protect the rights of Wet’suwet’en land defenders
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
Commissioner Brenda Lucki
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
18 November 2021
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
Premier John Horgan,
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki;
Amnesty International is writing with grave concern over the arrival on November 17 and 18 of new contingents of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia to join existing RCMP and Community Industry Response Group officers. The increased police presence has raised alarm and fear within the communities and escalated existing tensions. Already there are reports of multiple arrests made by officers who moved in today. We are concerned that additional arrests are likely and the risks of escalation this situation brings.
Prior to today’s action, community members reported that officers set up a checkpoint at the 28 kilometre mark of Morice Forest Service Road and were preventing food and medicine from passing through to those in need and stopping community members from travelling through the territory.
This escalation is in contradiction with recommendations issued by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in December 2019, which call on Canada to withdraw police and security forces from the area.
An increased police presence raises serious concerns for the safety of Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters, considering previous arrests and reports that officers deployed in 2019 were approved to use lethal oversight during the execution of the injunction order.
Amnesty International urges the Federal and Provincial governments and Royal Canadian Mounted Police to:
- Comply without delay with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s 2019 recommendation that Canada withdraw security and policing services from Wet’suwet’en traditional lands;
- Guarantee that RCMP and security forces do not use lethal force against Wet’suwet’en land defenders;
- Uphold international human rights obligations and guarantee the internationally recognized human rights of Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters;
- Allow critical foods and medicines to reach the communities and the free movement of people within the territory;
- Work with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, land defenders and supporters to allow the passage of foods and medicines to stranded Coastal Gaslink workers until such time as they leave or can be evacuated from the work lodges.
We look forward to assurances that you will act without delay on these recommendations and protect the human rights of Wet’suwet’en people.
Amnesty International Canada