FIDH and la “Ligue des droits et libertés” denounce the political interference with the organisation Rights and Democracy and call upon the Canadian government to launch an independent investigation

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights and its Canadian member organisation, “la Ligue des droits et libertés du Québec“ denounce the political interference with the Canadian organisation “Rights and Democracy” and express their concern following the decision of the Canadian government to appoint Mr. Gérard Latulippe as President of the organisation.

Rights and Democracy was founded by the Canadian Parliament in 1988 to promote, in Canada and abroad, human and democratic rights as defined in the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights. Over the years, thanks to its independence, this non-partisan organisation has been able to effectively contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights around the world. FIDH and “la Ligue” are therefore concerned by the current crisis which puts the work of this organisation at stake.

FIDH and its affiliate wish to reiterate their strong disagreement with the unfounded accusations by the current Board of Directors of Rights and Democracy against two affiliate organisations of FIDH - B’Tselem and Al Haq –, whose commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights in Israel and in the Palestinian Occupied Territories enjoy international recognition. FIDH and “la Ligue” are deeply concerned that an organisation such as Rights and Democracy is thus being involved in a campaign discrediting two organisations which denounce the human rights violations committed by Israel.

FIDH and its member organisation are also highly preoccupied by the trust of the Canadian government in the current Board of Rights and Democracy which has been lately reiterated by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon (and the recent appointment of Mr. Gérard Latulippe to the Presidency of the organisation. Different positions he has expressed such as on death penalty and same-sex marriage, as unveiled in the media, such as Le Devoir last week, clearly show that Mr. Latulippe does not have the moral authority to lead an organisation like Rights and Democracy. FIDH and “la Ligue des droits et libertés” therefore call upon the Canadian government to reconsider this nomination.

Finally, FIDH and its affiliate are dismayed about the fact that the Board of Directors of Rights and Democracy has decided to close down the European office of the organisation in Geneva, claiming that UN institutions, such as the Human Rights Council or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were biased against Israel. However, these are institutions which, in our opinion, play an essential part in defending and promoting human rights in the world. In addition, through this office, Rights and Democracy has supported numerous organisations by enabling them to send representatives who have, in turn, been able to testify before some of the UN bodies.

FIDH announces that consequently, it will not submit any application for the 2010 edition of the John Humphrey Award. As a reminder, the John Humphrey Award is awarded each year by Rights and Democracy to a person or an organisation to recognize their contribution to the advancement of human and democratic rights.

Since almost a year, Rights and Democracy, long time partner of FIDH, has been going through a crisis which seriously affects its reputation and undermines its future. Hence, FIDH calls upon the Canadian government to launch an independent investigation with immediate effect in order to shed light on all the recent events;to appoint a President whose independence and expertise in the area of human rights are recognized, and to nominate a competent Board that should be independent. Canada’s credibility is at stake.

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