India’s decision to revoke diplomatic immunity for dozens of Canadian diplomats is making life “unbelievably difficult” for millions of people with ties to that country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.
Trudeau made the remarks in Brampton Ont. a day after his government confirmed that 41 Canadian diplomats had left India after New Delhi threatened to revoke their diplomatic immunity.
“This is a violation of the Vienna Convention governing diplomacy,” Trudeau said. “This is them choosing to contravene a very fundamental principle of international law and diplomacy. It is something that all countries in the world should be very worried about.
“It also has very real impacts on the millions of people who travel back and forth between India, as students, as family members, for weddings, for businesses, for the growing trade ties between our countries.”
Canadian diplomats left India after two weeks of negotiations between India and Canada prompted by India’s demand for “parity” in the number of diplomats present in the two countries, a source with knowledge of the situation told CBC News.
That demand was part of an angry reaction by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Trudeau’s allegation last month that Indian agents were involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Surrey, B.C. on June 18.
Trudeau said India’s actions are “making it unbelievably difficult” for “millions of Canadians who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent.”
Government officials said that 45 per cent of Canada’s international students, 27 per cent of new permanent residents and 22 per cent of temporary foreign workers come from India.
“This is something that has far-reaching consequences for the diplomatic world that I know many, many countries are very worried about,” Trudeau added.
India says it’s following international law
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly issued a statement confirming that 41 diplomats and their 42 dependents were pulled from the country before their diplomatic immunity could be revoked.
Joly’s statement said that if countries are allowed to break diplomatic conventions, “no diplomat anywhere would be safe.”
Pulling those diplomats, Joly said, will have impacts on the consular services that can be offered on the ground in India. All in-person services at consulates in India have been paused until further notice.
“Five [Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada] staff remain in India and will focus on work that requires an in-country presence such as urgent processing, visa printing, risk assessment and overseeing key partners, including visa application centres, panel physicians and clinics that perform immigration medical exams,” Joly’s statement said.
The Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs responded to Joly’s statement Friday.
“The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” the statement said.
The Indian government insisted that demanding parity in the number of diplomats present in each country is consistent with the Vienna Convention.
“We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the statement said.
Canada has said that it will respect “diplomatic norms and not reciprocate this action.”
Number of Indian diplomats disputed
India claimed to have only 21 accredited diplomats in Canada and said Canada had 62 in its High Commission in New Delhi and four consulates in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Bengaluru.
Canadian officials have questioned India’s arithmetic, which they say does not give an accurate picture of the respective sizes of the two diplomatic missions.
India’s claim to have only 21 accredited diplomats in Canada also appears to conflict with the registry of accredited foreign representatives in Canada, which shows that India has 60 in Canada.
Canada’s allies have started speaking out against India’s move to strip diplomats of their immunity.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said the U.S. is “concerned” about the 41 diplomats’ departure form India.
“Resolving differences requires diplomats on the ground. We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence and to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation,” Matthew Miller said in a media statement.
The U.K. High Commission in Ottawa issued an almost identical statement.
“The unilateral removal of the privileges and immunities that provide for the safety and security of diplomats is not consistent with the principles or the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention,” the statement said.
Source : CBC