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Irwin Cotler, député

Canada, Hold China Accountable For Its Suppression of Human Rights (Huffington Post)

Posted on 8 novembre 2014 | No Comments

(As posted on Huffington Post)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to China is understandably engaged with Canada-China trade relations, investments, and — in particular — the hope to build closer economic ties with Canada’s number two trading partner.

As well, on the eve of his trip, a senior government official was quoted as saying that the Prime Minister will raise China’s human rights record during his discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Indeed, the time is propitious for raising such issues as the Chinese President himself recently expressed his commitments to the rule of law, constitutionalism, and China’s international legal obligations.

Accordingly, an All-Party Press Conference this week — also on the eve of the Prime Minister’s trip — called for the release of imprisoned Chinese prisoners of conscience Dr. Wang Bingzhang and Dr. Liu Xiaobo – for whom I am acting as pro bono legal counsel – and which cases are a litmus test of President Xi Jinping’s stated undertakings.

Dr. Wang is the founder of the China Democracy movement with a close Canadian connection. He obtained his PhD from McGill University in 1982; both his parents — who died without being able to see him — and his siblings are Canadian citizens; and his daughter Ti-Anna — who inspired the novel Nine Days by Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt and is named after Tiananmen Square — is also a Canadian citizen currently studying law at McGill University while working for her father’s freedom.

Dr. Wang was illegally abducted from Vietnam nearly 12 years ago, was convicted of trumped-up charges following a secret one-day trial at which he was denied the right to speak, and the right counsel, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement. Indeed, his prolonged and abusive solitary confinement — treatment found to constitute torture by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment — has caused him to suffer several debilitating strokes and other severe physical and mental disabilities in prison. Tragically, his daughter Ti-Anna, despite repeated requests, has not been permitted to visit him these past five years.

As well, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found as early as 2003 that Dr. Wang’s prosecution and punishment violate international law standards. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development also tabled a report calling on the Chinese government to release Dr. Wang, as has the U.S. Congress.

The Canadian lawyer Clive Ansley practiced in Shanghai for 13 years. He explains the reality of what happened to Dr. Wang, Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, lawyer Gao Zhisheng and so many other dissidents: “There is a current saying amongst Chines lawyers and judges who truly believe in the Rule of Law . . . ‘Those who hear the case do not make the judgment; those who make the judgment have not heard the case’ . . . Nothing which has transpired in the ‘courtroom’ has any impact on the ‘judgment'”.

Dr. Liu Xiaobo is an internationally renowned scholar and human rights advocate and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the rule of law and the protection of human rights. His role in drafting Charter 08, which called for political reform and improved human rights in China, led to his ongoing unjust and illegal detention. Indeed, Dr. Liu was sentenced on Dec. 25, 2009 to eleven years imprisonment on charges of “incitement to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system” following a trial that violated every norm of due process in Chinese constitutional law as well as its international treaty obligations.

Dr. Liu’s continuing detention — and the Kafkaesque house arrest of his wife Liu Xia who has never been formally accused of any crime — is emblematic of the Chinese government’s increasing suppression of the freedom of expression of its citizens, particularly those who advocate for political reform. The charge of subversion under Article 105 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China is regularly used to unjustly imprison dissidents, in violation of the Chinese constitution and international law.

And so, 25 years after Tiananmen Square, heroes of democracy and justice — like Dr. Wang and Dr. Liu — see their rights, and the rights of their loved ones, trampled upon because they spoke out for what is right.

In a word, Dr. Wang’s and Dr. Liu’s continuing detentions are case studies of the Chinese government’s massive repression of human rights defenders and violations of their own undertakings to us to respect their domestic and international legal obligations. Regrettably, the Chinese government has succeeded in having the narrative focus on the regime’s openness to trade, technology, and business, and away from justice, democracy, and human rights. It is our responsibility to join the issues, and to hold China to all of its commitments — constitutionalism as well as trade, human rights as well as business, justice as well as investment. The release of Dr. Wang and Dr. Liu would be a start.

Irwin Cotler is MP for Mount Royal and Liberal Critic for Rights and Freedoms and International Justice. He serves as pro bono counsel to Dr. Wang Bingzhang — a member of the international legal team for Dr. Liu Xiaobo — and is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Pétition sur les droits de la personne en Corée du Nord

Posted on 7 novembre 2014 | No Comments

L’hon. Irwin Cotler (Mont-Royal, Lib.):

Monsieur le Président, je prends la parole pour présenter une pétition venant de Canadiens préoccupés par les violations des droits de la personnes qui sont depuis longtemps monnaie courante en Corée du Nord. Après avoir mené une enquête exhaustive, la commission d’enquête des Nations Unies a confirmé l’existence de crimes répandus et systématiques contre l’humanité.

Les pétitionnaires exhortent le Canada à adopter une loi sur les droits de la personne en Corée du Nord. Des lois similaires adoptées par les États-Unis et le Japon comprennent des mesures telles qu’un soutien et une protection accrus pour les réfugiés de la Corée du Nord ainsi que pour les organismes qui défendent les droits de la personne dans ce pays.

Je me joins aux pétitionnaires pour sonner l’alarme à l’égard de la répression massive exercée par le régime nord-coréen ainsi que pour exhorter le Canada à intervenir.

Déclaration sur la Journée mondiale de la prématurité

Posted on 7 novembre 2014 | No Comments

L’hon. Irwin Cotler (Mont-Royal, Lib.):

Monsieur le Président, le 17 novembre aura lieu la Journée mondiale de la prématurité. Cet événement international vise à sensibiliser la population à la réalité de la prématurité et à promouvoir les mesures connexes, car il s’agit d’une des principales causes de mortalité et de morbidité infantiles, et les nombreuses familles qui ont un bébé prématuré voient leur vie bouleversée à jamais.

Cette journée a une signification bien particulière pour moi, puisque deux de mes petits-enfants sont nés prématurément: Lavi, qui est né après 25 semaines de grossesse et qui s’est vaillamment battu, mais qui n’a hélas pas survécu, et Ella, qui est née après 32 semaines de grossesse et qui, à l’âge de 5 mois, est maintenant en pleine santé.

Aujourd’hui, nous saluons ces incroyables petits combattants qui font mentir les statistiques. Nous saluons aussi leurs proches et l’équipe de néonatologistes et d’infirmières des unités néonatales de soins intensifs, qui accomplissent chaque jour rien de moins que des miracles. Les mots seuls ne peuvent décrire toute la gratitude que les familles éprouvent à leur égard.

Toute la journée, divers monuments du Canada et du monde seront illuminés de violet pour l’occasion afin de rendre hommage à tous ces gens. Quelle image inspirante et poignante ce serait pour eux si la Tour de la Paix pouvait elle aussi se draper de violet.

Iran should stand trial for persecution of Baha’i

Posted on 30 octobre 2014 | No Comments

(As published in The Montreal Gazette) In Geneva on Friday, Oct. 31, the United Nations Human Rights Council is conducting its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran’s […]

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Les attaques à Ottawa ne nous réduiront pas au silence

Posted on 24 octobre 2014 | No Comments

En 1951, mon père m’a amené visiter pour la première fois la Colline du Parlement. À notre arrivée à l’édifice du Centre, il s’est tourné vers […]

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Posted on 20 octobre 2014 | No Comments

Cette mesure législative vise à mettre fin à l’immunité des états dans les cas de torture soulignée par la Cour suprême dans l’affaire Kazemi Ottawa – […]

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Plaidoyer pour la réforme de la Loi sur l’immunité des États

Posted on 17 octobre 2014 | No Comments

La semaine dernière, la Cour suprême du Canada a refusé de permettre que la République islamique d’Iran soit tenue responsable devant les tribunaux canadiens de la […]

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Filling Quebec’s next vacancy on the Supreme Court

Posted on 10 octobre 2014 | No Comments

(As published in The Montreal Gazette) Next month, Justice Louis LeBel will retire from the Supreme Court, creating a new vacancy to be filled by a […]

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Question au feuilleton – La prochaine nomination à la Cour Suprême

Posted on 8 octobre 2014 | No Comments

Le professeur Cotler a inscrit au feuilleton la question suivante sur la prochaine nomination à la Cour suprême. Le gouvernement doit répondre dans les prochains 45 jours. […]

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Mon abstention pour des raisons de principes

Posted on 7 octobre 2014 | No Comments

Déclaration de l’honorable Irwin Cotler émise le mardi 7 octobre 2014 « Au cours des dernières semaines, les députés au Parlement, et les Canadiens et Canadiennes que […]

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