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Canada Reaffirms Commitment to Championing Human Rights

December 10, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day:

“This year’s Human Rights Day comes at a time of global remembrance for Nelson Mandela, one of the last century’s greatest champions of human rights. His unrelenting commitment to the cause was an inspiration to all of us, and in 2001 he became the first living person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship.

“Canada seeks to actively play its part in promoting human rights abroad. Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are core Canadian values that this government is proud to uphold and celebrate. It is our duty to defend the rights of the oppressed and give voice to the voiceless. As another honorary Canadian, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, once said: ‘Please use your freedom to promote ours.’

“That’s why this year we introduced the first-ever stand-alone resolution on child, early and forced marriage at the United Nations General Assembly. As many as 9.5 million girls are forced into marriage ever year—this practice flies in the face of Canadian values, and we make no apologies for speaking out about it.

“Another concerning trend is the increased targeting of religious communities in different parts of the world. In response to this, Canada this year established itself as a global leader in defending religious liberty through the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom, led by an Ambassador for Religious Freedom.

“Whether you’re a peaceful protestor in Kyiv, a political prisoner in Tehran, a persecuted citizen in Pyongyang or a victim of violence in the Central African Republic, Canada will do whatever it can to stand by your right to freedom and dignity.”

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