Amid Saudi Arabia dispute, Canada says will always defend human rights

Friday, 10 Aug, 2018

Canadian officials say they'll also seek help from the United Arab Emirates, who will nearly certainly take the side of Saudi Arabia.

Genevieve Paul, the director of Amnesty's francophone branch, points out that pressure is put on the Saudi government when news of such arrests becomes public.

Canada's recent criticism of the treatment of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia has sparked a diplomatic spat with Riyadh.

The Saudi government also banned new trade with Canada, although it was unclear if it would affect existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of more than £3bn billion and a £10bn defense contract. "You have to have a policy, as we do at UNBC, where yes, we want global students but we're never going to put our budget in jeopardy at all - the students are here to enrich their lives and help us enrich our lives".

"We don't yet know exact registration numbers for the coming academic year, or how those numbers might be affected by today's reported measures by the Saudi government", according to a statement sent to Euronews from the university.

On Monday, Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said her government - which has come under fire previously for signing off on the sale of more than 900 armoured vehicles to Riyadh - would not back down. "The United States has respect for internationally recognized freedoms and also individual liberty - that certainly hasn't changed".

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", Freeland tweeted.

The United States, traditionally one of Canada's most important friends, stayed on the sidelines.

Canada's decrying the arrest of two female activists in Saudi Arabia clearly rubbed that country the wrong way.

The dispute appears centred around tweets by Canadian diplomats calling on the kingdom to "immediately release" detained women's rights activists. "We can't do it for them; they need to resolve it together", U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing.

Kocijancic said the commission wants to understand the allegations against the activists and to ensure they receive a fair trial.

On the diplomatic dispute, Kocijancic said that "we don't comment on bilateral relations".

"We anticipate the majority, if not all, that are now enrolled are impacted by this decision", she said.

Vice Provost Patti McDougall said in an interview Tuesday only nine students from the kingdom are registered for classes in 2018-19, but they suspect the number who were planning to return was much higher.

Saudi government officials also froze new trade deals with Canada and said Canadians were interfering in their domestic affairs. In response, Canada pledged to continue advocating human rights.

The Saudi Ministry of Media ordered the Twitter account of the Infographic KSA, @Infographic_KSA, that posted the photo shut down, apparently unamused by its invocation of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in NY.