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Cost of cancelling Saudi arms deal must not outweigh human rights: Amnesty International

    October 24, 2018

    It is appalling that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would stand behind a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, as the country’s atrocious list of human rights violations continues to grow.

    Yesterday, in the wake of the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trudeau said cancelling the $15-billion agreement to sell LAVs to Saudi Arabia would be too costly for Canadian taxpayers.

    Here is Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve’s response:

    - Human rights do not and can never be allowed to carry a price tag.  The people of Yemen do not deserve to be told that protecting their rights and doing everything Canada can do to avoid any degree of complicity in war crimes at the hands of the Saudi-led coalition that has caused so much suffering over the past three years is not worth $1 billion. There is nothing in Canada’s international human rights obligations that sets a financial limit on our responsibility to comply. Any other approach would be unconscionable.

    - If it is the case that there would be substantial penalties for revoking the authorization for these arms exports, that is an expensive lesson that could and should have been avoided at the very beginning of this sorry tale. This is a cautionary reminder that when human rights considerations are given short shrift at the outset in approving arms deals with countries that have notorious human rights records, the implications are not only the very real risk of contributing to the commission of war crimes and other serious rights violations, but also that it may cost a great deal of money to make things right later on.

    - Canadians deserve to know more about these asserted penalties, including to whom – General Dynamics or Saudi Arabia – they would be paid; and an opportunity to understand and even offer legal analysis as to whether there are ways that any such penalties could be minimized or reduced.

    For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English):  +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca

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