Federal Government sanctions fall short of obligation to act under international law

“The government of Canada has announced it is imposing new sanctions against four officials and one entity under the Special Economic Measures (People’s Republic of China). While today’s announcement is a welcome step, the government has fallen well short of its obligation to act under international law,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.  

“The government has failed to name the Chinese governments’ crimes against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities as genocide, even though these crimes are most accurately described as such, as defined under Article II of Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. 

"The government acknowledges the ‘mass arbitrary detention of more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, as well as political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization’, yet continues to refer to these acts as ‘gross and systematic human rights violations’ instead of genocide. 

"I am also bemused by the government's call on the People’s Republic of China to allow access to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) so that experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand; something that the Prime Minister must certainly know the Chinese government will not do. 

“By refusing to name the crimes being perpetrated against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities by the Chinese government as genocide, the Prime Minister and his government stand at odds with Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, the U.S. Secretary of State, the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights, and the majority of members of Parliament. 

“The sanctions which have been announced are a start, but should not be the end. Even if a country is only aware that there is a serious risk that a genocide is occurring or might occur, it must do everything within its power to prevent the genocide from taking place. 

"To fulfil its international obligations, the Green Party of Canada urges the government of Canada to:  

  • Explicitly name, strongly condemn, and raise international awareness of the direct evidence regarding the ongoing genocide; 
  • Be the lead convener of discussions with a wide group of international allies to explore all available diplomatic and economic mechanisms for bringing China back into compliance with international law; and
  • Consider which unilateral actions Canada should additionally undertake to secure China's compliance with international law.  

“While Canada can and should act in concert with its allies, it is not powerless to act on its own, and has a variety of unilateral options available to respond to the genocide against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China,” said Ms. Paul.

“The Green Party of Canada believes that an ongoing genocide is being perpetrated against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities by the Chinese government. The Green Party hopes that the Prime Minister and his government will acknowledge that fact and take a level of action that corresponds to the seriousness of the crime.” 

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Rosie Emery

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