Canada has launched the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes.
The US and 58 other countries have endorsed the non-binding declaration which aims to "protect citizens of all countries who live, work and travel abroad."
The declaration, announced by Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, comes as part of Ottawa's attempts to free two Canadian citizens who have been detained in China since 2018.
Ottawa has said that the declaration is also aimed at the widespread use of the practice abroad, including in North Korea, Iran and Russia.
"It's time to send a clear message to every government that arbitrarily detains foreign nationals and tries to use them as leverage: this will not be tolerated by the international community," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement endorsing the declaration.
.@SecBlinken made clear in his remarks we stand with the international community against the use of #ArbitraryDetention in state-to-state relations. These detentions are a heinous violation of human rights and an affront to international diplomatic norms. https://t.co/hk9hHFQSic
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 15, 2021
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that countries must work together to counter the arbitrary detention of foreign and dual nationals.
The practice of arbitrary detention is used widely across the Middle East.
US Special Presidential Envoy Roger D. Carstens wrote on Twitter: "Today marks 4 years since U.S. citizen Majd Kamalmaz was picked up at a checkpoint in Syria. His family has not heard from him since, but he's in their thoughts every day. We're committed to supporting his family and to bringing him home."
Majd's son Ibrahim Kamalmaz commented: "On behalf of my family and I, we convey tremendous gratitude for @StateSPEHA's commitment and resolve to bringing our father home as soon as possible. #ArbitraryDetention of innocent, non-political individuals such as my father should never happen."
Journalist Omid Memarian wrote: "Declaration against #ArbitraryDetention is a decisive step to end the hostage-taking dilemma, used by states like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, & others. Iran, in particular, has been using foreign & dual nationals as pawns for political gains, resulting in massive human suffering."
Recently released Saudi female rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul spent over 1,000 days in arbitrary detention.