Jul 8/98: IHRAAM and the tribunal on residential schools


Yussuf Kly
Wednesday, July 8, 1998


On June 12-14th, an International Indian Tribunal on Residential Schools was held in Vancouver to hear testimony by victims of human rights abuses who attended these schools. Subsequent to the event, the role played at the Tribunal by IHRAAM, an international NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC at the United Nations, has been variously interpreted by the media, by attendant groups and participants. IHRAAM's Communications Director, on behalf of the IHRAAM Directorate, today issued the following clarification concerning both IHRAAM's role, and its intentions with regard to any future Report on this Tribunal:

IHRAAM was invited to participate in the tribunal exclusively as an Observer organization, and did have representation present. Our representation was very concerned about the suffering expressed, as well as about what is being done to redress the grievances. However, IHRAAM holds no recordings of the testimonies delivered, and no official IHRAAM communique has been released to the media or to any other official body with regard to the proceedings of the Tribunal. This does not preclude the issuing of findings or holding of press conferences by local organizers of this event, or their further pursuit of these issues in whatever manner they may see fit.

No report has yet been prepared by IHRAAM or received by it, nor has it been requested to facilitate the transmission to the United Nations of any report the Tribunal may have prepared. Should such a request be made by the Tribunal or any other community group, it would be given appropriate consideration. An important aspect of this appropriate consideration would be the international legal requirement of "exhaustion of domestic remedies," that is, that all domestic efforts being undertaken by the Canadian government and the United Church of Canada be given sufficient opportunity to resolve the situation. Not until they may be regarded as having been exhausted without achieving adequate, reasonable and fair outcomes, should the UN be approached.

IHRAAM is composed of many different minority groups. Its long standing policy is to avoid inappropriate interference in their efforts and to be so organized that each minority group associated with IHRAAM can make independent decisions regarding its group while at the same time facilitating mutual cooperation and the efforts of all, including the majority communities, in the correct legal and political use of UN human rights instruments to resolve minority/majority human rights conflicts. In this spirit, we invite all indigenous groups, all human rights groups, community organizations and individual advocates of human rights to join IHRAAM as associates or independent associated organizations.

For further information, you may contact our New York UN Representative and Director, Dr. Laxmi Berwa (301-868-9066), or IHRAAM Director, Dr. Farid Muhammad, (312-939-0111). Further information about IHRAAM is available at the IHRAAM website at http://www.ihraam.org.

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