Statement: Canada's Declaration On Arbitrary Detention
02/16/21: Canada achieved a foreign policy human rights centred milestone by coalescing some 59 countries around a new initiative called, Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention.
As I have previously mentioned, it was time for Canada to stand up for its morals and values and in effect, stop being an international punching bag. China has taken hostage two Canadian citizens (Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor) as bargaining chips.
The Declaration says it reaffirms Canada's "grave concern about the rise of arbitrary arrest...to excise leverage over foreign governments, contrary to international law". The Canadian declaration, while it does not have penalization for offenders, has garnered wide international support.
In a statement, US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said he was honoured to endorse the declaration: "Human beings are not bargaining chips. The arrest of people for diplomatic gain must stop now". Similarly, Israel joined Canada in signing the declaration and thanked it for its leadership.
Canada is finally taking a bold step with this declaration to stand up for its own citizens who are unfairly held in detention. At the same time, there must be increased diplomatic and economic measures against countries that violate this declaration. This may include, for example, the Magnitsky Act, which Canada has signed into law.
Human rights must stand above all else. The world is becoming a more dangerous place as nations are incarcerating innocent people without due process and often as revenge. Canada's declaration is an important step in bringing attention to this issue.
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