Canada selling weapons to Philippines despite human rights concerns
When Justin Trudeau met Rodrigo Duterte in Manila late final yr, he didn’t hesitate to criticize rampant human rights abuses by the Philippine president’s safety forces.
“It’s very much what people expect of Canada and it comes as no surprise when we bring it up,” a smiling Trudeau informed reporters afterwards.
Duterte framed it in a different way. “It is a personal and official insult. I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.”
The icy relationship between the 2 doesn’t seem to have an effect on enterprise, nonetheless. This week it was revealed that – despite Trudeau’s concerns – Canada has brokered the sale of 16 fight utility helicopters price $185m to the Philippine air power.
Canada is the 15th largest weapons exporter on this planet, in accordance to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and analysts say that Trudeau’s authorities struggles to put its purportedly progressive requirements forward of business pursuits.
Canadian officers say they’re assured helicopters can be used for “disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport” within the Philippines.
But Major-General Restituto Padilla, the nation’s army chief of plans, informed Reuters the helicopters can be used for “internal security operations”, prompting Canada to announce a evaluation of the deal.
“There’s this ‘sunny ways’, ‘progressive Canada’ image being sold to the world. But it is increasingly hard to reconcile the government’s foreign policy rhetoric with its practice,” says Cesar Jaramillio, govt director of Project Ploughshares, a Canadian disarmament group. “Our initial reaction [to the helicopter deal] is one of wonder. Why is Canada selling weapons to a known human rights violator?”
Canada’s international minister, Chrystia Freeland, “has the power to deny the permit if it poses a risk to human rights, and she is prepared to do so”, mentioned her press secretary because the evaluation was introduced.
Duterte has likened himself to Hitler, boasted that he as soon as stabbed somebody to dying, and claimed to have pushed a person from a helicopter. Since taking workplace almost two years in the past, he has overseen a brutal “war on drugs” which Amnesty International believes has killed a minimum of 7,000 folks.
“This is not the kind of government you wish to be supporting if you’re Trudeau,” mentioned Srdjan Vecetic, a professor of public coverage on the University of Ottawa. “Surely his office has human rights advisers.”
The sale of the Bell helicopters – designed by an American firm however manufactured in Canada – was facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corporation, an umbrella group that sells arms to different international locations on behalf of the Canadian authorities.
This isn’t the primary time the Trudeau authorities has run afoul of human rights points in its arms dealing. Two years in the past, amid home criticism, the Canadian authorities authorised the sale of US$12bn price of sunshine armoured automobiles to Saudi Arabia – a transfer that made Canada one of many largest arms sellers within the Middle East.
Allegations quickly arose that the usage of the automobiles violated the unique phrases of the sale. Videos posted on-line appeared to present Canadian-made armoured automobiles used to suppress civilian protests and concerns additionally grew round the usage of Canadian-made automobiles in Saudi Arabia’s struggle towards Yemen.
In response, Canada introduced a suspension of the deal.
“That sounds good – because it makes [Canada] look less complicit in what is effectively a genocide. But is a suspension, not a cancellation of the current deal,” mentioned Vecetic.
With polls displaying little public help for such arms gross sales, Vecetic believes there’s an opportunity Trudeau would possibly lose political capital – and probably tarnish his well-crafted picture.
In addition to its “war on drugs”, Philippines can also be battling Isis-allied extremists and Maoist rebels.
All Canadian arms gross sales should be authorised by the federal government – and Ottawa describes its export controls as being among the many strictest on this planet.
Jaramillio disagrees, citing what he calls “abysmal human rights record” of the Duterte regime.
“The fact that Canadian equipment is making it to the Philippine military despite those very well-known red flags should raise questions about the strength of our export control systems,” he says.