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Amnesty International expects more from Liberal government

Amnesty International's secretary general would like Canada to once again be a positive force in the world of human rights.

Group believes Canada needs to do more to strengthen its human rights reputation around the world

Alex Neve is the secretary general of Amnesty International. (Paul Thompson)

Amnesty International's secretary general would like Canada to once again be a positive force in the world of human rights.

Alex Neve said that the world's previous views of Canada have deteriorated when discussing human rights on a global scale.

"Canada long been seen as a mediator and bridge builder. A country which could be counted on to bring different groups together at the [United Nations] around difficult human rights issues … instead it's seen as a very polarizing and obstructive force," said Alex Neve.

Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada has sent Justin Trudeau 12 human rights action items he says need to be tackled immediately. 11:34

"I've heard comments of that sort from ambassadors, European ambassadors, who would often turn to me trying to figure out what was happening to Canada's long-standing and previously very reliable, very, very firm positions for human rights."

Neve believes Canada needs to step up to the plate when it comes to issues at home, such as violence against indigenous women and girls.

Neve says he is going to keep a close eye on the new federal Liberal government, hoping they stick to their promise of a public inquiry leading to a national action plan.

Syrian refugee crisis

"The crisis, with respect to the violence against indigenous women and girls in Canada, by any measure, is one of the most serious and long-standing human rights problems we have faced," he said.  

"It's inexcusable it has taken this many years."

The next thing on Amnesty International's list is addressing the deepening Syrian refugee crisis.

"We and many others have had long-standing concerns over the previous government's very punitive measures stripping refugees access to federally supplied healthcare … he is [Justin Trudeau] is looking to reverse that."

Prime Minister Trudeau has pledged to bring 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of this year.

"He has been much more generous and meaningful with respect to Syrian refugees, but there are real logistical challenges that he faces," said Neve.

"We are faced with nine-and-a-half years of lost ground, of setbacks. There's the need to be moving forward with the reform agenda, but it's not only about reversing the harm that's been done, we want to be continuing stronger human rights protection."


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