Friday, April 1, 2011

'Canada has lost its standing' in human rights

Globe and Mail: Canada has lost its standing as a world leader in pressing for human rights, in part by taking a one-sided view on Middle East rights issues... That judgment, according to Amnesty's global secretary-general Salil Shetty, is the cumulative effect of several moves in recent years, including a reluctance to sign new UN rights declarations, avoiding accountability for the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, and a failure to stand up for the rights of Canadians accused abroad, such as Omar Khadr, the Canadian detained in Guantanamo Bay... 'Globally, Canada's reputation as a reliable human-rights champion has dropped precipitously, Amnesty concluded...

Among other things, Canada's shift in the Middle East has including 'unflinching refusal' to raise concerns about Israel's rights record, and the government has stifled or defunded agencies that 'promote the rights of Palestinians'... Canada has lost the reputation for evenhandedness... Most of the steps criticized in the report came under Stephen Harper's Conservative government -- with the notable exception of the long-standing criticism of Canada's failure to shrink the gap in standard of living between aboriginal Canadians and most citizens.

Amnesty chief blasts Harper on death penalty, and Tories' right record overall
Canadian Press: Prime Minister Stephen Harper's personal support for the death penalty is 'outlandish' and out of step with the world at large, says the head of Amnesty International... Secretary General Salil Shetty... Shetty was in Ottawa to release a scathing report that accused the government of eroding Canada's global reputation as a human rights champion...

Shetty said his organization's latest death penalty report showed that 139 countries have abandoned executions. The only notable exception in the developed world is the United States... The report also notes that Canada has scaled back its efforts at the United Nations to work towards the abolition of the death penalty... Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976...

In January, Harper gave a grammatically awkward answer when asked by the CBC... 'I personally think there are times when capital punishment is appropriate. But I've also committed that I'm not, you know, in the next Parliament, I'm not, no plans to bring that issue forward,' he said. 'Why would he want to say or do that unless there's an expectation that it would bring some political gains,' Shetty said.

'The thing is, there seems to be quite a big gap between what Canadians think their values are, and the government's positions are, and the reality.'
Image source here.