Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne says he is ready to suspend military export permits granted to NATO ally Turkey if an investigation determines that Canadian technology is causing human rights violations.
Minister Champagne made the pledge in an interview with The Canadian Press as Turkey faces allegations that it is involved in the resumption of this week's fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The minister was responding to calls from organizations, Armenian Canadians and New Democrats to halt the export of electro-optical sensors manufactured by a company in Burlington, Ontario, which would be used in Turkish attack drones.
Turkey, a NATO member with Canada, said it supported Azerbaijan in resuming fighting with Armenia that erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region in the South Caucasus on Sunday.
Armenia has accused Turkey of redeploying fighters from Syria and F-16 fighter jets to support Azerbaijani forces, but Turkey has denied sending people or weapons into the conflict.
Minister Champagne and his British counterpart Dominic Raab have expressed their concern over the large-scale military action between Armenia and Azerbaijan and called on them to negotiate peacefully through the Organization for Security and Defense. cooperation in Europe.
L3Harris WESCAM electro-optical sensor
The Canadian NGO Project Plowshares published a report alleging that Turkey is increasingly using an electro-optical sensor manufactured by L3Harris WESCAM, a Canadian subsidiary of the American company L3Harris, and that this use poses a substantial risk of violations of human rights.
I immediately ordered our officials to investigate the allegations.
Minister Champagne made it clear that he was ready to
suspend or cancel any license that would have been misused.
François-Philippe Champagne declared that he was committed to
meet the highest standards when reviewing business export permit applications, including Canada's commitment to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
I have spoken with the various interest groups that have raised these issues, and I take their concerns seriously., did he declare.
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In September, Project Plowshares released a report titled
Optical killer sensors: WESCAM sensor exports to Turkey – a litmus test of Canada's compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty.
The group said they gathered evidence from public records, media reports, academic sources, credible human rights observers and open data that
strongly indicate that WESCAM sensors, which are mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been widely used by Turkey in recent military operations.
The report claims Turkey has been using these sensors since 2017 as its military tries to end an insurgency in southeast Turkey and is involved in military operations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Such use raises serious red flags, as the Turkish military has been alleged to have committed serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and other violations, especially during air strikes., indicates the report.
Turkey also appears to have exported drones equipped with WESCAM sensors to armed groups in Libya, a blatant violation of the almost ten-year-old United Nations arms embargo. The dramatic increase in exports of WESCAM systems to Turkey has persisted despite Canada's 2019 accession to the Arms Trade Treaty.
Canada called on to vote
Canada's Armenian National Committee called on the federal government to
condemn this outright aggression from Azerbaijan and immediately stop arms exports to Turkey.
Civilian and military casualties are increasing, according to official reports, and Azerbaijan's aggression has caused significant destruction of civilian infrastructure, including basic humanitarian supplies, in part through the use of enhanced Canadian drones., the committee said in a statement this week.
Jack Harris, NDP foreign affairs spokesman, said the government could be complicit in human rights abuses by failing to properly regulate its arms exports to Turkey.
Liberal government must look in the mirror to reassess Canada's arms exportsJack Harris said in a statement.
During the interview, Mr. Champagne indicated that he takes Canada's legal obligations with respect to export permit applications seriously.
He said he was committed to
make sure they fit into the very robust system we have, adding:
Human rights are now an essential component.
Minister Champagne declined to say how long his department's investigation would take. He said he would consult with NATO and other allies to
get the best information possible.
And like I said, if there was any evidence that these permits were misused, I am ready and I will suspend or cancel any permit.