Amnesty International is urging Prime Minister Jean Chretien to settle the longstanding Lubicon Cree land claim before he leaves office next February.

Amnesty, which monitors human rights violations, said in a strongly worded report that Canada has failed to live up to its obligations towards the small northwestern Alberta band despite a United Nations agency’s finding in 1990 that the Lubicons’ human rights were being violated.

Chretien has been under pressure to resolve the land claim before he retires, due in part to his statement 10 years ago that settling it was a priority.

Negotiations have proceeded fitfully for years, but negotiators say there has been progress in the latest round, which began in 1998.

The Lubicon, who number about 500, were missed when a federal commission negotiated Treaty 8 in Alberta in 1899. They were largely ignored until the land they inhabit — and never surrendered via a treaty — became valuable for its oil and gas and forest resources.