At UN, India Asks Canada to Prevent Misuse of Free Speech, Attacks on Religious Places

Last Updated: November 13, 2023, 13:37 IST

Forty-one Canadian diplomats were forced to leave, after India set a deadline, after which their diplomatic immunities were to be stripped. (Image: Shutterstock/Representative)

India urges Canada to curb freedom of expression misuse amid diplomatic tension at UN human rights review

At the UN human rights review in Geneva, India called on Canada to prevent the ‘misuse’ of freedom of expression and attacks on places of worship of minority communities. This request was part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, wherein United Nations member states undergo periodic evaluations of their human rights records.

Canada, which is among 14 countries, undergoing the UPR process, received evaluations from the UPR working group, which includes all UNHRC members. Delivering India’s statement at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during the 44th Session of the UPR Working Group, First Secretary KS Mohammed Hussain expressed concern about the misuse of freedom of expression in the country.

“One, further strengthen the domestic framework to prevent misuse of freedom of expression for inciting violence and disallow activities of groups which are promoting extremism,” said First Secretary Hussain at India’s Permanent Mission in Geneva on November 10. The Indian diplomat also asked the Canadian government to prevent attacks on places of worship of religious and racial minorities and strengthen measures to address hate crimes and hate speech.

“Two, effectively prevent attacks on places of worship of religious and racial minorities, strengthen legislative and other measures to address hate crimes and hate speech. Three put an end to structural discrimination against children belonging to Indigenous groups and address disparities in access to services by all children,” he added.

This review comes as India-Canada ties plunged in September when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in the Parliament that “credible” intelligence links agents of the Indian government to the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, whom India called a “terrorist.” India has strongly denied the allegations and asked Canada to present proof.

After bilateral relations plunged over diplomatic spat and growing anti-India activities, New Delhi asked Ottawa to remove dozens of diplomats from the country, stressing the principle of diplomatic parity. India said it had invoked diplomatic parity under the Vienna Convention because of “concerns about continuous interference in our affairs by Canadian personnel”.

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