Canada’s declaration on arbitrary detention welcome step, but must go further to protect prisoners abroad: Amnesty International

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – Amnesty International welcomes the Canadian government’s initiative endorsed by 57 countries to condemn the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals —including those with dual citizenship— for political purposes. We hope the implementation of this new declaration, announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau on Monday, will be followed by a binding implementation plan.  

The declaration, and Canada’s effort to build a large coalition of countries to respect international human rights norms, is a welcome step. However, its narrow focus on arbitrary detention over diplomatic matters, namely exercising leverage over a foreign government, does not protect all prisoners abroad, cautions Ketty Nivyaba​ndi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English section: “All forms of arbitrary detentions are contrary to international law. It is important to emphasize that the calls made in this declaration, such as rule of law and respect for human rights, including access to effective remedies and prevention of torture and other ill-treatment, are applicable to any arbitrary detention, regardless of their purpose.” 

For France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director of Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, “Such a declaration signed by a large number of countries around the world helps put pressure on governments to fight against arbitrary detention”. 

Amnesty International calls on states to collaborate and support established human rights multilateral mechanisms to address the practice of arbitrary detentions. “We will closely monitor how well current signatory states live up to their principles and refuse to deal with states that practice arbitrary detention as a means of exerting diplomatic pressure”, concludes France-Isabelle Langlois.



For more information or for an interview, please contact:

Lucy Scholey
Media Relations Officer, Amnesty International Canada (English branch) 

Camille Ducroquet 
Communications Officer | Amnesty International Canada francophone
+1 514 766-9766, ext. 5236,