UN special advisor James Anaya refutes claims that he was denied visas to enter Canada
Contrary to some reports, James Anaya, the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, has not been denied entry into Canada by the Harper government.
On Wednesday, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations released a statement claiming that Anaya, who in the past had been critical of the federal government's handling of aboriginal affairs, had been denied visas to enter Canada on three separate occasions.
But in an email exchange with Yahoo! Canada News on Thursday morning, Anaya says that it's not true.
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"I do not know of the original source of the assertion that I have been denied a visa to enter Canada," he wrote.
"I have not been denied a visa as I have not applied for one, and ordinarily as a United States passport-holder I am not required to have a visa to enter Canada."
Anaya does however say that, about a year ago, he made a formal request to the federal government asking permission to come to Canada on an 'official visit' but still hasn't received a response.
"Under the relevant procedures and rules of the United Nations and its member States, I am required to have the consent of the government of a country in order to enter it for an official visit in my capacity as UN Special Rapporteur," he wrote adding that he has received several requests from First Nations in Canada to visit the country.
"In February of 2012 I formally communicated to the Government of Canada my desire to conduct an official visit to and requested its cooperation for the visit. I have since reiterated that request to the Government. Canada has what is known as a "standing invitation" for Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council to visit Canada, and hence my request for the visit made reference to that standing invitation. I have not yet received a response to my request, but I have been told informally that it is being considered."
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According to the United Nations, special rapporteurs such as Anaya, are appointed by the world body's Human Rights Council "to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme."