Canada’s Trudeau breaks the ice on hu­man rights as Asean sum­mit winds down

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Cana­dian prime min­is­ter Justin Trudeau raised the plight of Ro­hingya refugees and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in the Philip­pines at a sum­mit of Asian and western lead­ers yes­ter­day.

There was no pres­sure from US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on the Philip­pines’ bloody war on drugs dur­ing a meet­ing on Mon­day with pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

The two “un­der­scored that hu­man rights and the dig­nity of hu­man life are es­sen­tial, and agreed to con­tinue main­stream­ing the hu­man rights agenda in their na­tional pro­grammes”.

But Mr Trudeau said that dur­ing his talks with Mr Duterte in Manila, he “men­tioned hu­man rights, rule of law and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as be­ing an is­sue that Canada is con­cerned with”.

“The pres­i­dent was re­cep­tive to my com­ments and it was a very cor­dial and pos­i­tive ex­change,” he said.

More than 3,900 sus­pected drug dis­trib­u­tors and users have been killed in the cam­paign launched by Mr Duterte when he took of­fice last year. His gov­ern­ment says the po­lice act only in self de­fence, but crit­ics say killings take place with no le­gal ac­count­abil­ity.

Mr Duterte cursed Mr Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, last year for rais­ing con­cerns about the war on drugs. Mr Trump, by con­trast, said on Mon­day that he had a “great re­la­tion­ship” with Mr Duterte.

Mr Trudeau said he also met Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and spoke about the plight of Ro­hingya refugees.

“This is a tremen­dous con­cern to Canada and to many, many coun­tries around the world,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment in mainly Bud­dhist Myan­mar re­gards the Ro­hingya as il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh and does not recog­nise the term. Some coun­tries in the 10-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South-East Asian Na­tions, par­tic­u­larly Malaysia, have voiced strong con­cern over the is­sue.

But in keep­ing with Asean’s prin­ci­ple of non-in­ter­fer­ence in each oth­ers’ af­fairs, it ap­peared to have been skirted at the talks, which brought South­East Asian na­tions to­gether with the US, Ja­pan, China, In­dia, Aus­tralia and Canada.

The sum­mit ended yes­ter­day, also bring­ing to a close Mr Trump’s trip to Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines.


Cana­dian prime min­is­ter Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie af­ter ad­dress­ing the fi­nal day of the Asean Sum­mit in Manila

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