July 21st, 2024

Trudeau says India’s move against Canadian diplomats should concern the world

By The Canadian Press on October 20, 2023.

An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard next to a police barricade outside the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023.India is defending its diplomatic actions a day after Ottawa announced it had pulled most of its envoys from the country over what it called a precedent-setting diplomatic threat. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Altaf Qadri

OTTAWA – India’s move to reduce the presence of Canadian diplomats in its country are “contrary to international law,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday, and the rest of the world should be concerned about its consequences.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Thursday that Canada had removed most of its diplomatic presence from India after New Delhi threatened to strip diplomatic immunities from them and their families.

Calling it a precedent-setting threat, Joly said Canada chose to relocate 41 of its diplomats to outside India, along with their 42 dependants. There are 21 Canadian diplomats remaining in India.

On Friday, Trudeau called India’s decision to “unilaterally” revoke diplomatic immunity from most of Canada’s “a violation of the Vienna Convention governing diplomacy,” repeating the assertion by his foreign minister.

“This is them choosing to contravene a very fundamental principle of international law and diplomacy,” Trudeau said Friday at a housing announcement in Brampton, Ont.

“It is something that all countries in the world should be very worried about.”

Relations with New Delhi have hit a deep freeze since Trudeau announced on Sept. 18 that Canadian intelligence services were investigating “a potential link” between India’s government and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh leader in British Columbia.

Earlier Friday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said its move to reduce the number of Canadian diplomats in India, who it says outnumber India’s staffing in Canada, was in line with diplomatic convention.

India’s statement cited a passage from an international convention on diplomatic relations that says in the absence of agreement, a host country can require a diplomatic mission be kept within reasonable and normal limits.

“We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the statement read.

Trudeau said Friday that India’s actions toward Canadian diplomats “has far-reaching consequences for the diplomatic world.”

“It also has very real impacts on the millions of people who travel back and forth between India, as students and family members.”

Officials said the move would slow down the processing of immigration applications and Canada has issued a travel advisory for regions of India where it says it’s been forced to reduce consular staffing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2023.

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