Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland yesterday refused to retreat in her country’s row with Saudi Arabia over the human rights situation in the kingdom.
“Canada will always defend human rights around the world… including women’s rights,” Freeland said at an annual gathering of ambassadors in the German capital, Berlin, without specifically referring to Saudi Arabia.
“Even when we are told to mind our own business, or that matters such as these should only be discussed in private, between leaders, behind closed doors. And even when speaking up brings consequences,” she added.
The minister has called on Germany to support her country in defending human rights saying: “We count on and hope for Germany’s support.”
Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh have been strained after the Canadian minister said her country was “gravely concerned” about the arrest of human rights activists in the kingdom earlier this month.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
In response, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, recalled its own ambassador and froze new trade relations with Ottawa over what it described as “Canada’s interference in its internal affairs”.