Canada fails as a human rights leader

The full press release from the Green Party of Canada:

Canada, April 06, 2011 — Salil Shetty, the global secretary-general of Amnesty International, delivered a blistering attack on Harper’s record on human rights actions, in a report released March 31 entitled Getting Back On The ‘Rights’ Track.  “Globally, Canada’s reputation as a reliable human-rights champion has dropped precipitously,” Amnesty stated.  Green Leader Elizabeth May responded, “Canadians are aware of the current Government’s indifference for human rights and its disdain for the organizations that defend them.  There has been a definite drift away from the traditional Canadian values of taking leadership in human rights and a change of government is urgently required to rebuild trust.”

Canada once took a leading role in such issues as the creation of an international criminal court and protections for child soldiers.

The cumulative effect of several negative moves in recent years should be of concern to all Canadians. These include the reluctance to sign new UN rights declarations, a one-sided stance on Middle East rights issues, lack of accountability for the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, and a failure to stand up for the rights of Canadian aboriginals and Canadians accused abroad.  Specific examples include:

  • Ignoring a Supreme Court recommendation to bring Omar Khadr home from the infamous prison in Guantanamo Bay, who at the time of the alleged action was a child soldier.  The Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was breached in Omar Khadr’s case. The Canadian Bar Association president Parker MacCarthy referred to Khadr’s treatment as a “travesty of justice.”
  • Both the RCMP and government officials were complicit in the torturing of Maher Arar.
  • The government ignored and then attempted to suppress information regarding the torturing of Afghan prisoners under Canadian command.
  • There has been ongoing evidence that the government is unwilling to provide a balanced foreign policy in the Middle East. The Green Party supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that addresses the security, economic, and religious concerns of both sides.
  • The government failed to support a bill to control human rights abuses abroad (Bill C-300). According to testimony at the Foreign Affairs Committee in the fall of 2010, some Canadian mining companies have been implicated in serious human rights and environmental abuses.
  • The government rejected efforts to repatriate Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik, stranded and facing torture in Sudan for six years. His return was finally forced by the courts.

In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council expressed concern over Canada’s human rights record.  Most recently, Canada has been indifferent to events in Libya. The only person to defect from the Gaddafi regime has not been provided security and has been harassed by his embassy, while those loyal to Gaddafi are yet to be expelled from Canada. The Green Party was the first to suggest action be taken on the diplomatic front with its press release on February 22 when we urged the Government to request the United Nations to take steps to remove Libya from the Human Rights Council.

“It is time for a change in government to protect human rights for citizens in Canada and abroad and to rebuild Canada’s role internationally as a human rights leader,” stated Joe Foster, Green Party Human Rights Critic. “If you check our record, you will see that the Green Party has consistently spoken out for protecting human rights in Canada and abroad. This is one of many reason to vote Green,” Foster added.

Leave a comment

To weed out spam, your comment will not appear right away.