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Trudeau urged to tackle Philippine human rights at ASEAN meet

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks through an honor guard as he arrives in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. The Canadian Press via AP/Adrian Wyld

MANILA, Philippines — Groups based in Canada called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speak out on attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines during his visit to the country for the 31st ASEAN Summit.

“We, the undersigned, call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use his upcoming visit to the Philippines to demonstrate that Canada cares about human rights and is committed to work with other governments in promoting and defending human rights,” they said.

The groups want Trudeau to urge President Rodrigo Duterte’s government to end the attacks against and uphold the rights of human rights defenders.

“The Prime Minister’s visit takes place at a time when Philippine human rights defenders are facing grave danger. Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders state that in cases where human rights defenders are in acute risk, firm diplomatic measures may be required,” they said.

According to rights group Karapatan, 58 out of the 98 victims of political killings during the first 13 months Duterte’s administration were human rights defenders. A total of 435 political prisoners remain imprisoned.

They also called on Trudeau to consider putting a moratorium on the support of Canadian mining in the country, suspending all cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and preventing all sales of military and defense equipment to the government.

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“We urge the Prime Minister to ensure that the trade and investment he promotes during his visit does not lead to Canada’s complicity in human rights violations,” the groups said.

The groups include the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines-Canada, ICHRP-Toronto, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Centre for Philippine Concerns, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Migrante (Canada, Ontario, British Columbia), Anakbayan-Canada, Gabriela-Ontario and Women of Diverse Origins.

Before traveling to the country, Trudeau will first attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.

He is confirmed to take part in the Canada-ASEAN Commemorative Summit to “review relations between Canada and the 10 ASEAN countries and identify areas where we can increase collaboration.”

Trudeau first visited the country in November 2015 when he attended the APEC Leaders’ Meeting hosted by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

READCanada's Trudeau expected to attend ASEAN summit in Manila

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