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Renu Mandhane

Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

Renu Mandhane is the former Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. She has an LL.M in international human rights law from New York University, and is recognized expert. Renu sits on the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch, and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations. She has also trained Canadian and foreign judges through the National Judicial Institute of Canada. Renu has worked at several domestic and international organizations to advance women's human rights, and has represented survivors of domestic and sexual violence and federally sentenced prisoners. Renu was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in November 2015.
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A Turning Point For Human Rights

Our society has come to a fork in the road: we must decide the core values that will drive social policy in the future. Ontarians have big ideas and want bold approaches to address persistent human rights problems, and we agree. Our work has the most impact when we amplify the voices of the most marginalized people, and when the public echoes our human rights message and demands action.
12/12/2016 08:19 EST
THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg

Prisoners' Justice Day: Significant Barriers To Progress Remain 42 Years Later

On August 10, 1974, Edward Nolan died by suicide in a segregation cell at Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario. Each year on August 10, we commemorate Prisoners' Justice Day to remember Nolan and all of the prisoners who have died in custody, and to renew calls to respect the basic human rights of prisoners housed in jails, correctional centres, and penitentiaries across the country.
08/10/2016 08:11 EDT
CP

It's Time To End Solitary Confinement In Ontario Jails

Every year, thousands of people are placed in segregation in jails and penitentiaries across the country. Systemic data about the use of segregation in both provincial and federal contexts indicates that segregation is being overused on -- and causing particular harm for -- vulnerable groups, such as black and indigenous prisoners, women, and those with mental health disabilities.
03/08/2016 12:05 EST
C/O

Don't Blame The End Of Carding For An Increase In Gun Violence

Like most people that call this city home, I am deeply troubled by Sunday's shooting deaths in Toronto's Chinatown and the eight other gun-related deaths the city saw in January. This is obviously unacceptable, and police must be supported in their efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these horrific crimes. That being said, most people would be hesitant to draw any clear conclusions about why we have seen a high number of gun crimes over the past month. Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, the union that represents police officers, feels differently.
02/04/2016 11:01 EST
shutterstock

Criticism of Religion Should Not Lead To Discrimination

Most Canadians believe that religious discrimination is no longer a problem in contemporary society. Yet, after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, we have seen a marked spike in hate crimes against Muslims. Less extreme, but likely more pervasive than overt attacks are new stereotypes that view all religious people as inherently backward, less tolerant, less informed, or closed-minded. This is a different form of prejudice that appears to be socially acceptable in our more secular society, and among many otherwise "progressive" or "liberal" individuals.
12/10/2015 07:27 EST
CP

Terror Abroad Has Revealed Troubling Hate Here At Home

Such is the nature of our hyper-connected planet that events seemingly worlds away from our day-to-day lives can reverberate in our neighbourhood. That is the power and promise of social media - it makes the world smaller. The flip side, however, is that faraway events, like those in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria and Egypt, can embolden otherwise-marginal, hateful forces here at home.
11/20/2015 11:15 EST
stevanovicigor

Why We Still Need Human Rights Institutions

The human rights landscape has changed dramatically since 1962, when the Ontario Human Rights Commission was created. There are now parallel human right institutions federally and in every province and territory, and numerous international human rights treaties to which Canada is a party. In Ontario, most people are ambivalent or simply don't know about the OHRC, its role, and its work. This is ironic because some of the issues that have captivated Ontarians in recent years clearly fall within the OHRC's jurisdiction and are issues on which the Commission has been actively engaged.
11/02/2015 07:48 EST
Chev Wilkinson via Getty Images

If Government Is Committed To Transparency, Why the Steep Search Fees?

In the past few years, I have made a handful of requests, dutifully paying my $5 in the hopes of receiving documents that will shed some light on Canada's human rights record. What has transpired is Kafkaesque. I requested information from the Department of Justice, Foreign Affairs, and Heritage Canada on our government's process for implementing human rights treaties. Between two departments, I was told that processing of my request would cost... wait for it ...more than $4,000 in search fees.
11/17/2014 05:30 EST
Juanmonino via Getty Images

Why Has Our Supreme Court Barred Civil Claims by Canadians Tortured in a Foreign State?

The International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights were interveners before the Supreme Court and argued that the right to a remedy is protected under international law, and is a principle of fundamental justice under the Charter (which protects life, liberty and security of the person). The Supreme Court rejected that argument.
10/10/2014 06:06 EDT
jstephenlee via Getty Images

Edward Snowshoe's Death Proves Torture Is Alive and Well in Canada

How many people have to die alone in a jail cell, with only their troubled thoughts for company, before we demand an end to grave human rights abuses happening in our prisons? Edward Snowshoe is the latest casualty in a systemic practice that killed Ashley Smith, and likely contributed to the death of Kinew James as well. Edward, Ashley and Kinew were all prisoners with serious mental health issues who were segregated for extended periods of time by the Correctional Service of Canada. Edward Snowshoe died under the very conditions that the UN found amounted to violate the Torture Convention.
07/15/2014 05:52 EDT
Alamy

How Canadian Prisons Torture the Mentally Ill

In recommendations released today, the UN Committee Against Torture slammed Canada's treatment of prisoners with mental health issues. Given that Canada is viewed by many as the "gold standard" in corrections, these findings are also an important reminder that serious problems remain within the Correctional Service of Canada.
06/01/2012 04:17 EDT

Is Canada Really Against Torture?

The story of Ashley Smith's in-custody death in 2007 was so shocking that it touched many Canadians unaccustomed to empathy for prisoners. Our report, produced by the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty is shocking because it details how women a lot like Ashley continue to be treated in a manner that breaches their human rights.
05/22/2012 05:02 EDT