Canada Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Thursday (local time) said that her country’s government held numerous conversations with the Indian government before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the Canadian Parliament about “credible allegations” regarding New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
She said that Indian officials in these conversations were made aware of the “credible allegations.” Addressing a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Joly also termed the decision to remove diplomatic immunities for 41 Canadian diplomats and their dependents in Delhi as “unprecedented.”
Asked whether Canada has shown evidence regarding its claim to India, Joly said, “We’ve had numerous conversations with India before the Prime Minister went in front of the house and made his declaration. This was not a surprise to the Government of India and through these different conversations, the Indian officials were made aware of the credible allegations.”
“And so based on that, India has decided to take their own decisions which are precedent-setting and revoking the diplomatic immunity of 41 diplomats is not only unprecedented but also contrary to international law and so in that sense because this is so unprecedented and would put so many countries, different diplomats around the world in danger. We decide not to reciprocate,” she added.
She further said, “I’ve answered your question. You’ve asked me the question whether we had conversation and presented evidence. I’ve told you that there were meetings and information was shared.”
Melanie Joly announced on Thursday (local time) that Canada has removed 41 diplomats and their family members, from India over the ongoing row between the two countries.
“As of now, I can confirm that India has formally conveyed its plan to unethically remove diplomatic immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi by tomorrow, October 20. This means 41 Canadian diplomats and their 42 dependents were in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date. And this would put their personal safety at risk,” Joly said, as she confirmed the departure of Canadian diplomats.
This comes after India called for a reduction in Canadian diplomats in India, calling for ‘parity’, owing to the ongoing diplomatic row between the two nations.
The Canadian Foreign Minister said, “Given the implications of India’s actions on the safety of our Diplomats, we have facilitated their safe departure from India. This means that our diplomats and their families have now left diplomatic immunities. Keeping Diplomats safe, no matter where they’re from and where they’re sent to. Immunities allow diplomats to do their work without fear of reprisal or arrests from the country they’re in.”
“They are a fundamental principle of diplomacy and this is a two-way street. They only work if every country abides by the rules. A unilateral revocation of diplomatic privilege and immunities is contrary to international law. It is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” she said.
She added that threatening to strip such immunity was “unreasonable and escalatory” since that allows “diplomats to do their work, without fear of reprisal or arrest from the country they are in.” Joly further said that Canada “will not reciprocate,” according to CTV news.
Addressing the press conference along with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller, Joly made the announcement about the development “on the situation with India” and how it will affect the level of service delivery Canada can offer following the withdrawal of diplomats.
She said, “There’s no question that India’s decision will impact the levels of services to citizens in both countries. Unfortunately, we have to put a pause on all in-person services in our consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai and in Bangalore.”
“Canadians who need consular assistance can still visit our High Commission in Delhi. And you can still also do that in person by phone and by email,” she added.
Canada’s Immigration minister stated that the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be significantly reducing the number of Canadian employees in India and said that later processing and slower services will be expected from India.
“We acknowledge the concerns and frustrations that this situation may cause for clients, families, educational institutions, communities, businesses in Canada as a whole,” he told the press conference.
IRCC staff is being reduced from 27 to just 5, according to an IRCC statement.
Earlier in September, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau alleged that the Indian government was behind the fatal shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India has out rightly rejected the claims, calling it ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’. Notably, Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Nijjar.