(Clearwisdom.net) On October 31, 2006, the Canadian Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development held a hearing on human rights in China. Mr. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, attended the hearing and recommended that the Canadian Government put human rights at the very center of all aspects of Canada's relationship with China.

Human Rights Dialog Has No Effect and China's Human Rights Condition is Deteriorating

Amnesty International regards that the Canada-China human rights dialog did not lead to improvement in China's human rights situation. On the contrary, in many respects, China's human rights record has deteriorated. Examples include the large scale arrest and torture of Falun Gong practitioners, and the persecution of Internet users. Within this period of time, the torture continues spreading and thousands of people were sentenced to death in unfair trials.

Mr. Neve cited four cases of human rights violations, including lawyer Gao Zhisheng illegally imprisoned and Falun Gong practitioner Bu Dongwei. He said that they were all the subject of recent Amnesty International Urgent Actions. Mr. Neve said, "Currently, thousands upon thousands of other women, men and young people in every corner of China who face arbitrary arrest, unjust imprisonment, harsh torture, brutal executions because of their beliefs, because of their ethnicity, because of their commitment to justice -- deserve nothing less."

He continued, "Amnesty International and other NGO's were not opposed to dialog, even private dialog. In fact dialog, well-structured and well-pursued, can play a valuable role in improving human rights. We highlighted however that for dialog to be effective it needs to be accompanied by appropriate public pressure in multilateral settings such as the United Nations and it needs to have clear objectives and a process for evaluating whether the dialog is in fact making any progress towards those objectives. Otherwise the dialog risks being an empty exercise, which gives an unwarranted appearance of meaningful attention on the human rights front. In short, without substance, we argued that the dialog process was no more than a sham."

He said, "Clearly the dialog process should not continue in its current form. It is a waste of resources, a waste of time, and by allowing what is essentially nothing more than window dressing to go ahead is truly to do a grave disservice to the cause that is at stake here: improving the protection of fundamental human rights."

Canadian Government Should Put Human Rights in the Very Center in Dealing with China

In this hearing, Amnesty International expressed the concern of thirteen non-governmental organizations of Canada. Mr. Neve said, "AI and other Canadian-based organizations who are concerned about the human rights situation in China have been pressing for a parliamentary review of Canada's China policy for over five years. We very much welcome this session today and hope it will mark the beginning of a thorough review."

"It is time to put human rights at the very center of all aspects of Canada's relationship with China. To continue to relegate human rights issues to a dialog process, even an improved dialog process, is frankly inadequate and incomplete. Canada's relationship with China is complex and plays out across a range of government departments and issues, including international trade, international development, justice and immigration. The relationship plays out both bilaterally and in multilateral settings."

"Human rights should shape Canada's dealings with China in all of those areas. As such, it is time for a comprehensive 'whole of government' approach to the Canada/China human rights relationship to be developed, an approach that does not leave human rights behind and instead takes maximum advantage of all interaction between the two countries, all potential areas of influence and leverage, to consistently advance an agenda of effective human rights reform in China and to do so constructively in concert with other nations."

"A thoughtful and comprehensive study carried out by this committee could go far in signaling new directions and new approaches. That will necessarily entail hearing from many others, from various arms of the Canadian government, from Canadian businesses active in China, from academics and other experts who study and follow China closely, and of course from the various Canadian ethno-cultural organizations who represent some of the most persecuted sectors of Chinese society, including Falun Gong practitioners. Canadian organizations concerned about the state of human rights in China would provide full support to such a process. It is long overdue. It could truly make a difference."