06/27/2012 11:36 EDT | Updated 08/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Amnesty International, Oxfam Canada, Urge Feds To Speak Out To Stop Illegal Arms Trade


OTTAWA - Non-governmental groups keeping an eye on the global arms trade say Canada needs to speak out more forcefully to prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of terrorists or human-rights abusers.

Amnesty International, Oxfam Canada and others say Canada has fairly high standards for the control of arms, but has not been vocal in urging others to follow suit.

Now, with a fresh round of UN negotiations on an arms-control treaty about to begin next week in New York, they want a clear statement from Stephen Harper, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to attend the talks.

They say countries opposing higher standards — such as Syria, Egypt, Iran and Cuba — are blocking progress in the negotiations.

The groups say 119 Canadian parliamentarians have signed a global declaration in support of a strong treaty to regulate the arms trade.

The treaty is would oblige countries to halt shipments of weapons and ammunition that would lead to violations of human rights or humanitarian law.