PM de­fends hu­man rights ef­forts

Trudeau de­murs on Khashoggi, de­fends canada’s work to date call­ing out Saudis

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NATIONAL NEWS - JAMES MCCARTEN

In some ways, what has hap­pened re­ally has vin­di­cated the ac­tions of our for­eign min­is­ter, to call them on the car­pet for their hu­man rights be­hav­iour. There’s more and more ev­i­dence mount­ing that ... we were pre­pared to call a spade a spade.” ”

Fen Hamp­son, of the Nor­man Pater­son School of In­ter­na­tional Affairs at Car­leton Univer­sity in Ot­tawa

WASH­ING­TON — Prime Min­is­ter Justin trudeau de­murred Fri­day on the dark­en­ing mys­tery sur­round­ing the fate of Ja­mal Khashoggi, say­ing only that canada has “se­ri­ous is­sues” with re­ports the Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist was killed by Saudi ara­bian op­er­a­tives in­side that coun­try’s con­sulate in turkey.

but he in­sisted canada has done plenty when it comes to call­ing the king­dom on the diplo­matic car­pet over its dis­mal hu­man rights record.

“We have been ex­tremely ac­tive both in pri­vate and in pub­lic over many years now around our con­cern for hu­man rights in Saudi ara­bia, and we will con­tinue to be clear and strong in speak­ing up for hu­man rights around the world, re­gard­less of with whom,” trudeau told a news con­fer­ence at la Fran­co­phonie’s bi­en­nial sum­mit in ar­me­nia.

he said he broached the sub­ject him­self dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion last spring with King Sal­man bin ab­du­laziz al Saud.

“We will al­ways en­deav­our to do it in a con­struc­tive way, but we will be en­sur­ing that peo­ple know that canada is un­equiv­o­cal in stand­ing up for hu­man rights — ev­ery­where, all the time.”

the in­trigue sur­round­ing Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance has only deep­ened since he was last seen Oct. 2 en­ter­ing the Saudi con­sulate in istanbul.

u.S. me­dia re­ports say turk­ish of­fi­cials have au­dio and video record­ings that prove Khashoggi was in­ter­ro­gated, tor­tured and killed by a Saudi se­cu­rity team in­side the con­sulate, where he had gone to ob­tain of­fi­cial doc­u­ments be­fore his wed­ding the next day. a chill­ing New york times re­port says the Saudis brought a bone saw and a doc­tor of foren­sic medicine to dis­mem­ber the body.

“this par­tic­u­lar case is of course of con­cern, and we join with our al­lies around the world in ex­press­ing se­ri­ous is­sues with th­ese re­ports,” trudeau said. “Ob­vi­ously there is a lot more to un­cover on what hap­pened here, so i’m not go­ing to com­ment too much on this.”

the fed­eral lib­eral gov­ern­ment has good rea­son to tread softly, given the king­dom’s out­sized re­sponse in au­gust to a tweet from For­eign affairs Min­is­ter chrys­tia Free­land that called for the im­me­di­ate re­lease of de­tained ac­tivists, in­clud­ing Sa­mar badawi, a cham­pion of women’s rights and the sis­ter of de­tained blog­ger raif badawi.

Saudi ara­bia re­called its am­bas­sador in Ot­tawa, put a freeze on trade, can­celled flights to and from toronto and pulled its stu­dents from canadian med­i­cal schools, prompt­ing with­er­ing crit­i­cism of the trudeau gov­ern­ment from Op­po­si­tion MPs and oth­ers — in­clud­ing den­nis ho­rak, canada’s for­mer Saudi am­bas­sador, who this week ac­cused the fed­eral gov­ern­ment of over­play­ing its hand.

but the Khashoggi saga un­der­mines that ar­gu­ment, said Fen hamp­son, of the Nor­man Pater­son School of in­ter­na­tional affairs at car­leton univer­sity in Ot­tawa.

“in some ways, what has hap­pened re­ally has vin­di­cated the ac­tions of our for­eign min­is­ter, to call them on the car­pet for their hu­man rights be­hav­iour,” hamp­son said. “there’s more and more ev­i­dence mount­ing that ... we were pre­pared to call a spade a spade.”

One gov­ern­ment source, speak­ing frankly in ex­change for anonymity, said Fri­day that trudeau’s ret­i­cence to speak out on Khashoggi had “zero” to do with any pre-ex­ist­ing sen­si­tiv­i­ties: “We are still gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence on this and talk­ing to al­lies.”

Free­land her­self has said lit­tle on the mat­ter in re­cent weeks, al­though she did ac­knowl­edge dur­ing a coun­cil on For­eign re­la­tions event in New york last month that she had been speak­ing fre­quently by phone with ab­del al-Jubeir, her Saudi coun­ter­part.

For­eign affairs of­fi­cials say Free­land met with al-Jubeir in per­son that same week on the mar­gins of the united Na­tions Gen­eral as­sem­bly, al­though the pair have not met or spo­ken since.

there is, of course, an­other diplo­matic wrin­kle: the united States, which has long cul­ti­vated close re­la­tions with Saudi ara­bia and cur­rently has a pres­i­dent whose busi­ness ties to the re­gion are deep and well known. don­ald trump has also struck a muted tone on the Khashoggi case in re­cent days.

“We’re look­ing at it very strongly,” he said thurs­day in the Oval Of­fice. “What hap­pened is a ter­ri­ble thing, as­sum­ing that hap­pened. i mean, maybe we’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised, but some­how i tend to doubt it.”

both coun­tries have a lot to lose fi­nan­cially, as well. trump of­ten talks about US$110 bil­lion with of arms sales to Saudi ara­bia — and while re­ports de­scribe that dol­lar fig­ure as more wish list than bot­tom line, the pres­i­dent is not keen to jeop­ar­dize it. in canada’s case, a $15-bil­lion con­tract to pro­vide On­tario-made light ar­moured ve­hi­cles is very real — as is the lib­eral com­mit­ment to hon­our­ing a deal signed by their con­ser­va­tive pre­de­ces­sors.

“We re­spected that con­tract, but at the same time brought in sig­nif­i­cantly new and strength­ened mea­sures around trans­parency, around ac­count­abil­ity, in en­sur­ing that on a go-for­ward ba­sis, we are mak­ing sure that cana­di­ans’ ex­pec­ta­tions and laws are al­ways be­ing fol­lowed,” trudeau said.

Mean­while, mem­bers of congress are spoil­ing for a fight, in­clud­ing a pow­er­ful bi­par­ti­san group of demo­cratic and repub­li­can se­na­tors from the com­mit­tee on For­eign re­la­tions, which has for­mally started a 120-day clock on so­called Mag­nit­sky sanc­tions against the king­dom.

Getty imageS

Saudi of­fi­cials leave the Saudi Ara­bia’s con­sulate on Fri­day in Istanbul, Turkey. Fears are grow­ing over the fate of miss­ing jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi af­ter Turk­ish of­fi­cials said they be­lieve he was mur­dered in­side the Saudi con­sulate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.