Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to address drug war killings and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to address human rights violations confronting the region, such as the bloody crackdown on Ro hingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Trudeau, in a news conference, stressed that Canada would always speak out on human rights issues.
“I mentioned [to Duterte]human rights, rule of law and specifically, extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with. And we have impressed upon him the importance of rule of law, offered our support, as a friend, on how Canada can help with that,” Trudeau said.
“I will always bring that (human rights) up. The President was receptive to my comments and it was a very cordial and positive exchange,” Trudeau added.
Trudeau said raising human rights issues was not about being righteous but finding ways for constructive engagement.
“Countries around the world would always hear about human rights from Canada. That is not to say that we are perfect. We also had indigenous peoples who have been neglected, mistreated for decades, if not centuries. But we know that talking about human rights is a path forward,” he explained.
“Discussions on human rights should be honest and frank, and it has been done [on our part]. There is a high expectation on us that we must protect human rights and rule of law based on our experience. There are those where we have succeeded, where we have failed, but the best practice is to move along,” he added.
The Duterte administration’s drug war has claimed the lives of about 7,000 drug suspects in police operations, but human rights groups place the figure at 13,000.
As for Myanmar, Trudeau has named a special envoy to Rakhine state to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid for the Rohingya Muslims.
The violence against the Rohingya erupted when Rohingya militants killed at least 30 police forces in August. Since then, around 500,000 have fled Rakhine State to go to Bangladesh to escape the military’s “clearing operations,” which allegedly included burning of homes, rape and killing.
“In light of events in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, I’ve named a special envoy to the region and asked them to engage in diplomatic efforts and identify ways in which Canada can support the response of the situation in the plight of the Muslim minority,” Trudeau said during the Asean-Canada 40th Commemorative Summit.
“During my excellent discussions with the State Counsellor, we discussed the importance of the
recommendations put forth from the final report of the advisory commission on the Rakhine State which will help chart the path forward towards peaceful resolution of the conflict and how Canada can help achieve this goal,” Trudeau added, referring to Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.