Address by Minister Freeland delivered in the House of Commons in support of sanctions for human rights abuses and foreign corruption


May 17, 2017 – Ottawa, Canada

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

The Government of Canada is a strong defender of human rights.

In Canada and around the world, the issue of human rights sanctions and the Sergei Magnitsky case have drawn strong interest, and rightly so.

However, there is currently no Canadian law that authorizes the imposition of sanctions specifically for violations of international human rights obligations in a foreign state or for acts of corruption. Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, aims to address this gap.

Today, the Government of Canada is pleased to announce its support for this important legislation.

The question of how to effectively apply sanctions for human rights abuses and foreign corruption was among the issues examined by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The government supports the committee’s recommendation to bring forward a new instrument to impose sanctions for human rights violations or corruption.

The government supports expanding the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted—under the Special Economic Measures Act—to include cases of gross violations of human rights and foreign corruption.

Last month, comparable legislation received Royal Assent in the United Kingdom. The United States enacted a similar law in 2012. And this approach has also been debated in the EU Parliament.

Human rights are a non-partisan issue, and I look forward to working with stakeholders to bring forward some technical amendments to strengthen the bill and ensure it can have maximum effectiveness.

Together, we will advance Canadians’ resolute defence of human rights at home and abroad.”


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