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Trudeau: I discussed human rights, EJKs in meeting with Duterte

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said that he discussed human rights and extrajudicial killings in meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.  Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:05 p.m.) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said he was concerned over human rights and extrajudicial killings in the country in his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, who is particularly sensitive to these issues.

Trudeau said that he "impressed upon" the Philippine leader the need to respect the rule of law in efforts to combat illegal drugs. He also offered Canadian support to the program to address the country's drug problem, which, according to official figures affects around 1.8 million people.

"As I mentioned to President Duterte, we are concerned with human rights, the extrajudicial killings. I impressed upon him the need to respect the rule of law and, as always, offered Canada's support and help as a friend to help move forward on what is a real challenge," the Canadian premier said in a press conference in the International Media Center in Pasay City.

"This is the way we engage with the world, and this is the way we always will," the Canadian leader stressed.

READ:  Duterte to Trump: ‘Lay off’ topic of human rights

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Trudeau said that he emphasized people-to-people ties between Canada and the Philippines during his meeting with the Philippine leader before a broader summit between Southeast Asian nations and the North American country.

"I actually had an opportunity to have a conversation with President Duterte just before our meeting earlier this morning in which I emphasized of course the people-to-people ties between Canada and the Philippines and the great connections there," he said.

The Canadian prime minister is in Manila to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and its related meetings.

Also in attendance at the summit is US President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for failing to confront Duterte over his human rights record and the number of drug-related killings since July 2016.

Malacañang and the White House on Monday gave conflicting versions of what transpired during Trump and Duterte's bilateral meeting, with Manila saying that human rights were not mentioned while Washington stated that there was talk on the issue.

Canada: Our rights record is not perfect

Trudeau said that Canada regularly brought up the issue of human rights with countries that would like to engage with it, admitting that its own human rights record was not perfect.

"Canada is a country that always brings up human rights issues and strongly engages in line with our values everywhere around the world. Countries around the world have learned to accept and expect that even of Canada even as we engage constructively on other ways on economics, trade and benefits for our people," he said.

READ: Int'l watchdog reacts to Duterte's plan to hold human rights summit

One possible blot in Canada's human rights record is its treatment of its indigenous people, who Trudeau said, had been "neglected, marginalized and mistreated" for centuries.

The visiting leader reiterated his country's willingness to help other nations in areas such as their justice system, policing and governance.

"These are things that Canada can share best practices and help countries move along in a way that creates opportunities, stability and security for their citizens," he said.

The Canadian prime minister insisted that his country's concern for rights is not meant to "shake [their] finger and yell at people" but to help nations move forward and reduce violence and emphasize rule of law and protection of citizens along the way.

During his stay, Trudeau, has visited a women's maternity center in Manila, a popular fast food chain branch in Pasay City and a factory of electronic jeepneys in Makati. In every engagement, he was greeted by an adoring throng of people shouting and asking to have their photos taken with him.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

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