ndia’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.”
Amid reports that Canada has recalled a significant number of its diplomats from India, the external affairs ministry on Friday said that considering the current status of bilateral relations between the two nations and Ottawa’s continued interference in New Delhi’s affairs as well as the extremely high number of Canadian diplomats, warranted a parity in mutual diplomatic presence.
It also dismissed allegations that attempts to maintain parity are in violation of international norms.
“We have seen the Statement by the Government of Canada on October 19 regarding Canadian diplomatic presence in India. 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 MEA statement further said, “We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation. Our actions in implementing this parity are fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
According to Article 11.1, “In the absence of specific agreement as to the size of the mission, the receiving State may require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal, having regard to circumstances and conditions in the receiving State and to the needs of the particular mission.”
“We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the statement said further.
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.
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.