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Detained abroad: Are Canadians' human rights protected?
Canadians may think their human rights are protected when travelling overseas, but the law is opaque when it comes to the federal government’s responsibilities to its citizens detained abroad.
There are currently 1,457 Canadian citizens imprisoned around the world, but there is no specific legislation in place to protect their rights in a consistent and uniform way.
In its official instructions to Canadians who have been locked up abroad, the federal government does not promise it will intervene – even in cases of human rights violations.
"If your international human rights are known to have been violated, the Government of Canada may take steps to pressure the foreign authorities to abide by their international human rights obligations and provide basic minimum standards of protection," the federal government's directions read.
"While having dual citizenship is legal in Canada, it may not be legal or recognized in the country of your second nationality, which could limit the ability of the Government of Canada to assist you if you are arrested in that country.
"Canadian consular officials will provide the following range of consular services to Canadian citizens arrested and detained abroad:
- Requesting regular access
- Notifying family and friends
- Facilitating communication with local authorities
- Advocating for fair and equal treatment under local laws
But officials cannot "arrange" for a Canadian citizens' release from prison, nor can they provide legal advice.