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