“Large scale human rights violations have been committed against children belonging to Indigenous communities, it is inconceivable that Canada and the Holy See would leave such heinous crimes unaccounted for and without full redress.”
The Holy See is the central governing body of the Catholic Church.
The UN experts also called on Ottawa to undertake similar investigations in all other Indigenous residential schools across the country.
The special rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, which is the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system.
The signatories to the statement included Fabian Salvioli, special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and Francisco Cali Tzay, special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The experts said Canada’s judiciary should conduct criminal investigations into all suspicious deaths and allegations of torture and sexual violence against children kept in residential schools, and prosecute and sanction the perpetrators and concealers who may still be alive.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made $27 million in previously announced funding available to conduct further searches of possible residential school burial sites.
Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa Friday that the families and the communities of the Indigenous children who were victims of the residential schools system should be at the centre of Canada’s path forward.
“What the government of Canada thinks is the right thing to do, or wants to do is secondary in this issue,” he said.
“We will be there to support what the communities want and need.”
Trudeau said Canada is open to creating national standards to investigate burial sites or individual approaches for every Indigenous community, noting that his government is also open to international participation in this process.