The Canadian government has ordered a review of its immigration law and practices after angering New Delhi by denying visas to several Indian security officials on grounds of alleged human rights violations, HT has learnt.
Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who was in Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Air India Kanishka bombing, said his country’s law over inadmissibility needed to be refined in order to ensure that ties with “important democratic allies” such as India were not harmed.
“We clearly appreciate the good work done by Indian security and intelligence and military bodies,” Kenney told HT.
“We regard India as an important friend and ally with shared democratic values. And this is one of the reasons why the incident has provoked a review of our immigration policies and practices with regarding how we determine inadmissibility.”
The denial of visas to Indian police, military and intelligence officers in May — now blamed on individual immigration officials — prompted a strong reaction in New Delhi, with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna terming it “unacceptable”.
But Kenney said his government had no intention to “ban people from travelling to Canada who in good conscience performed their duties legitimately as members of Indian security agencies.
“If we have information that an individual has been involved in serious criminality or crimes against humanity such as torture that should clearly be grounds for inadmissibility.
But we acknowledge the perception that the net has been cast too broadly and that's why we are engaged in this new policy review of our immigration law.”
Separately, he said prosecutors would decide whether to reopen any aspects of the Kanishka case — the 329 victims included 290 Canadians — after an official report last week Canadian slammed police and intelligence investigators for “a cascading series of errors”.