Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch). Believes in a world in which the human rights of all people are protected.
Alex Neve believes in a world in which the human rights of all people are protected. He has been a member of Amnesty International since 1985 and has served as Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada since 2000. In that role he has carried out numerous human rights research missions throughout Africa and Latin America, and closer to home to such locations as Grassy Narrows First Nation in NW Ontario and to Guantánamo Bay. He speaks to audiences across the country about a wide range of human rights issues, appears regularly before parliamentary committees and UN bodies, and is a frequent commentator in the media. Alex is a lawyer, with an LLB from Dalhousie University and a Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. He has served as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, taught at Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Ottawa, been affiliated with York University's Centre for Refugee Studies, and worked as a refugee lawyer in private practice and in a community legal aid clinic. He is on the Board of Directors of Partnership Africa Canada, the Canadian Centre for International Justice and the Centre for Law and Democracy. Alex has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Trudeau Foundation Mentor and has received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick.
The high level of cooperation between Canada and the United States over many decades has deeply intertwined our two countries and preserving Canada's long-held partnership with the United States will no doubt be at the top of Prime Minister Trudeau's to-do list in Washington. But he must be clear in sharing the message that mutual observance and commitment to upholding human rights must be at the very centre of the special bond between Canada and the United States. Worryingly, President Trump has so far given much reason to believe that regard for human rights is not high on his own to-do list.
Human rights or security? In Canada and around the world the debate rages on; but it is an utterly false debate. We must, finally and firmly, reject the assumption and assertion that more of one necessarily leads to less of the other. There is no security without human rights.
Today, we mark World Refugee Day, amidst the most challenging and troubling time for global refugee protection since World War II. It is time to turn the global focus away from the cruel and illegal means now used to keep refugees away; and instead embrace our shared international responsibility to ensure they are safe.
A year ago the first words that came to mind in connection with Canadian refugee policy were restrictions, limitations and exclusion. Today it might instead be generosity, rights and compassion. But it doesn't and absolutely cannot end with 25,000 Syrian refugees arriving by spring and doctors being once again allowed to provide necessary treatment to refugees and refugee claimants. We cannot forget the pressing needs of refugees from other parts of the world. The global refugee population has skyrocketed in recent years, in large part because four million Syrians have fled the country.
For four years, the Sudanese military has waged a terrifying war against its own people, in the besieged state of South Kordofan. As the fourth anniversary of this disgraceful human rights crisis approaches next month; it is long past time for the world to finally do something about it.
The rushed passage of Bill C-51 through Parliament, the furthest-reaching national security reforms in Canada since 2001, continues. It is soon to be passed by the House of Commons and then head off to the Senate. And all signs are that the government intends to push it through the Senate as quickly as possible, with an eye to the Bill becoming law before the summer Parliamentary break. At its heart Bill C-51 grounds itself in the flawed notion that human rights have to give way when national security is on the line.
The number of deaths have been mounting over the years. The International Organization of Migration estimates that somewhere in the range of 20,000 women, men and children have drowned in the Mediterranean between 2000 and 2014, while trying to reach safety and new lives in Europe. Canada can and should be central to international efforts to address the underlying crises in Syria, Eritrea and other countries, propelling the displacement that leads to the Mediterranean. This is not a crisis that Canada should simply observe and lament.
How best to describe the rushed hearings the House of Commons' Public Safety Committee held over the past few weeks examining Bill C-51, the government's anti-terrorism law reforms? Circus, farce and disgrace all come to mind. I know, I was there on Amnesty International's behalf earlier this month.