Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal representative at the G7 summit in Japan says there is a very good chance of consensus among member countries on not paying ransom for citizens kidnapped abroad by terrorists groups.
“There’s a growing sense that the problem isn’t going away,” Peter Boehm told reporters at the summit.
“Citizens of our country can be in danger at any time and by paying ransom you are just aiding and abetting terrorists.”
Boehm is tasked with negotiating on behalf of Canada in the drafting of the summit’s closing communique, which is where the reference to ransom policy will be found.
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He said Trudeau has been the primary driver of the ransom issue at the summit.
Late last month Trudeau was forced to articulate his government’s position after Canadian hostage John Ridsdel was beheaded in the Philippines once a ransom deadline passed.
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The 68-year-old had been vacationing at a resort in the southern part of the country last September when he and another Canadian, Robert Hall, along with Hall’s Filipino girlfriend and a Norwegian man, were kidnapped.
Ridsdel was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf captors on April 25th; Hall is still being held hostage. The militant group is associated with both the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Filipino president-elect Rodrigo Duterte reportedly apologized for the killing of Ridsdel when Justin Trudeau called to congratulate him on his recent election.
At the time Trudeau called Ridsdel’s execution “cold blooded murder,” but insisted paying ransoms would put other Canadian lives in danger.
“Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists,” Trudeau said. “Directly or indirectly, and there are very direct and clear reasons for this.”
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Trudeau’s position is supported by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, but other G7 countries have historically taken a different position.
France and Italy have both paid ransoms for hostages in the past.
There has also been peculation that the Canadian government played a role in the release of two former Canadian diplomats — Robert Fowler and Louis Guay — who were kidnapped in 2009 by al-Qaeda.
The U.S has a policy not to directly pay ransom, but won’t prosecute families that do so.