Civil Society Letter on Bill C-47: Canada must do better

Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason and Group of 78 Chair Roy Culpeper sent a joint letter on behalf of their respective non-governmental organizations to Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in light of recent changes to Bill C-47, the legislation to enable Canada to accede to the landmark Arms Trade Treaty.

First they highlighted the good news:

“We would like to commend your recent amendment …to place directly in the legislation a new binding obligation on the Minister of Global Affairs to reject export permits where there is a substantial risk that the export will cause or facilitate serious human rights abuses or undermine international peace and security.”

Then Mason and Culpeper focused on the draft legislation’s continuing failure to include arms exports to our largest sector destination – the United States:

“Such action by Canada would make a mockery of the ATT objective to establish the highest possible international standards in an objective and non-discriminatory manner.”

The joint letter also urged the government to specifically include a “duty to reassess” in light of changed circumstances, given the often lengthy period of duration of trade agreements involving armaments.

“This would provide much needed clarity for all concerned that Canada will not knowingly be complicit in serious breaches of international humanitarian law, such as those occurring in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition”.

In closing, Mason and Culpeper underscored their “deep concern” over mounting evidence of internal repression in Saudi Arabia involving Canadian armoured vehicles and the refusal of Global Affairs to release the results of its own investigation into the abuses.

For the full text of the letter, click here.

Photo credit: UN image

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