The Canadian government is facing intense pressure from various Human Rights groups to cancel or review the lucrative arms deal with Saudi Arabia. About nine months ago Canada announces a probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing war in Yemen.
In October 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government is going to suspend all the pending arms contracts with Saudi Arabia. However, the Government said that already signed contracts will be fulfilled. However human rights groups showed reservations on the late announcement.
A group of human rights activists wrote an open letter to the Canadian Prime Minister. In that letter, activists demand a conclusion of the review report. The review report was made in March of this year. The letter further claims that no government official is giving a satisfactory answer to the review report.
Human rights activists further argue that unavailability of any update on review is questioning the sincerity of the Canadian government. Currently, Canadian human rights groups and civil society are trying to pressurize the Canadian government to cancel the supply of light armored vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia. Human rights activists claim that Canadian machinery is being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen war.
Canada has specific rules and regulations on the sale of weapons. These laws state that Weapons cannot be supplied to a country which can use them against the civilians. The deal of LAVs was signed in 2014 by the previous Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Trudeau’s Liberal government also gave a positive signal to this deal and supply of LAVs started.
Trudeau Government claims that the cancellation of deal is not possible. If Canada cancels the deal, It will have to pay a penalty of $760m. However, in December 2018, the Canadian Prime Minister said that Canada is looking for a way to come out of arms deal with Saudi Arabia. However, LAVs worth more than one billion dollars have been supplied to Saudi Arabia after the Trudeau’s announcement.
Canadian government clarified that no new arms deal will be signed with Saudi Arabia until the conclusion of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Experts believe that Canada’s announcement means nothing to Saudi Arabia. Currently, Saudi Arabia is not interested in making any big deal with Saudi Arabia.
The diplomatic rift between Canada and Saudi Arabia started when Canada criticized Saudi Arabia over its crackdown against women activists in August 2018. Many human rights groups claim that Trudeau’s statement to come out of Saudi Arms deal was a cosmetic measure to escape the mounting pressure.
According to the Saudi-Canada deal, Canada is bound to supply 742 LAVs to Saudi Arabia. Reports claim that 127 LAVs were delivered in 2018. Human rights groups showed concerns about the continuous supply of LAVs. They claim that the uninterrupted supply of LAVs suggest that the Canadian government is not interested in moving out of the weapon deal.
Media reports claim that more than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen war since 2015. It was the same time when Saudi coalition started bombarding Yemen. Human rights groups claim that western made weapons are being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
In July 2019, UN blacklisted the Saudi-UAE coalition over its attacks on Yemen’s civilian population. In recent months videos and photos surfaced in which it was seen that Canadian made rifles are being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Canadian companies are also providing surveillance and pilot training. In 2018 the Canadian government passed a bill. This bill states that Canadian companies will not sell weapons to a party involves human rights violations. The Canadian government claims that this bill will enable Canada to join the Arms Trade Treaty very soon. The Arms Trade Treaty prohibits that supply of weapons to a party involved in committing genocide and other human rights abuses.
Related: Trump’s Veto – Will Saudi Arms Deal Continue?
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