Civil society organisations in Canada have written to the country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, demanding an update on a review into a huge sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. The review began in October 2018 following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. At the time the review was launched Trudeau suspended approvals for all new export permits to Saudi Arabia.
In the letter, Amnesty International, Oxfam Canada, Save the Children Canada and others said "we are disappointed that neither yourself, nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs, nor the Minister of International Trade Diversification has responded to the concerns outlined in our letter [from March 4]… No update with respect to the progress of the review has been offered, bringing the sincerity of the effort into question.”
The suspension of new arms export licenses does not mean that all arms shipments between Canada and Saudi Arabia have stopped. In 2014 the Canadian company General Dynamics Land Systems brokered a $11.3bn deal for light armoured vehicle; media reports indicate that the full order is for 742 light armoured vehicles. Amnesty International has said that “credible testimony and photos” show that the Saudi transport ship the Bahri Tabuk has visited Canada in May 2019 and that it is highly likely that Canadian light armoured vehicles (LAVs) were on board, following a similar journey in October 2018.
Campaigners have said there is credible evidence these arms are being used in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The letter sent by the civil society organisations demands that this deal is also terminated, and suggests that the Canadian government maybe dragging its heels on the review until all of the LAVs something Trudeau has said would cost Canada billions of dollars.
On 17th September Canada will become a state party to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The Treaty includes an article that states a country must reassess any existing deals if new information about how weapons may be used arises.
The full letter sent to Justin Trudeau can be found on the Amnesty International Canada website here: https://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/20190804%20-%20Five%20Month%20Follow%20Up%20Letter%20from%20CSOs%20-%20FINAL%20EN.pdf