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PEN Canada presents concerns on Canada-China bilateral dialogue on human rights to Parliamentary Subcommittee

Posted by on 2006/11/22. Filed under China,International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By PEN Canada Nov 22, 2006

Ottawa, 21 November 2006 – PEN Canada today addressed the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights looking into the ongoing Canada-China government bilateral dialogue.

PEN Canada is one of the organizations that comprise a Canada-based coalition of civil society groups that advocates for greater respect for human rights in China. The Subcommittee invited representatives of the organizations to speak in Ottawa to offer their opinions on the effectiveness of the dialogue process, which has taken place every year for the past ten years.

Speaking on behalf of PEN Canada, Programs Coordinator David Cozac said that the bilateral dialogue on human rights, in its current form, should not continue.

“We believe that the dialogue has consistently been hampered by a lack of clarity and well-defined objectives, inadequate transparency and the absence of benchmarks,” Cozac said. “As such, the results obtained from the years of dialogue have not served to advance the cause of human rights in China.”

In its presentation to the Subcommittee, PEN Canada made several recommendations, including:

a.. Ensuring transparency in the process and that interested stakeholders in the issue in Canadian civil society be apprised of the discussions that take place and their outcomes, and be offered opportunities for intervention and participation  b.. Calling on the Government of Canada to view the dialogue as merely one tool at its disposal to press for improvements in human rights, including working directly with other nations and groups of nations like the European Union to put forward a more united front  c.. Stressing that the dialogue count on the presence – on both sides of the table – of high-level government representatives. For the dialogue to be fruitful, it is essential for officials with influence to be present. China also needs to have on hand representatives of domestic ministries, not just foreign affairs, so that they can act on recommendations and implement measures that will show a demonstrable positive effect on the human rights situation within China’s borders. PEN Canada concluded its presentation by underscoring that a consistently forceful attitude adopted by the Canadian government on the deplorable human rights situation in China, does not poses any adverse outcomes for trade relationships. There is no substance to the claim that a decline in trade will result if one country takes a critical stance toward the other nation’s human rights record, PEN Canada said.

Currently, PEN Canada monitors the cases of seven individuals in China and its Autonomous Regions who have been imprisoned for what they wrote.

About PEN Canada

PEN Canada is a centre of International PEN that campaigns on behalf of writers around the world persecuted for the expression of their thoughts. In Canada, it supports the right to free expression as enshrined in Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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