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Irwin Cotler, MP




Posted on February 6, 2015

Liberal MP calls government’s appeal for clemency “vague and insufficient”

Ottawa – February 6, 2015 – MP Irwin Cotler, Liberal Party critic for rights and freedoms and international justice, today called on the Canadian government to become more actively involved in securing the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife and children have taken refuge in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

In Question Period, Cotler – who is acting as international legal counsel to Badawi – said that the blogger’s “imprisonment and torture” constitute “a flagrant violation of international law,” and he urged the government to seek “the immediate and unconditional release” of Badawi and his lawyer, Walid Abukhair.

David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the government would “continue to call for clemency,” a response Cotler characterized as “vague and insufficient.”

Cotler went on to say that “what the government must do – having regard to the standing Saudi violations of international law, and to Saudi Arabia’s obligations to Canada as a State Party to international treaties it is violating – is to specifically call for an end to Raif’s cruel and inhumane treatment, which clemency does not guarantee; to specifically call for Raif’s immediate and unconditional release, which clemency does not assure; and to take all necessary measures to ensure Raif’s reunification with his family in Quebec, which clemency alone does not authorize.”

Detained by Saudi Arabia since 2012, Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for establishing an online forum and exercising his right to free expression. Saudi Arabia administered the first 50 lashes on January 9, but has postponed subsequent lashings.