Canada to launch immigration policy review after Indian Government protest

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Patiala/Ottawa, May 29 (ANI): The Indian Government's outrage over Canada denying visas to some of its senior armed forces and paramilitary officers on grounds that they were complicit in human rights violations in Kashmir, has prompted the government of Prime Stephen Harper to review its immigration rules.

According to the Globe and Mail, Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued an apology on Friday, saying Canadian immigration officials should never have cast aspersions on India's institutions.

The incidents, he said, showed visa officers have too much latitude.

For a deeply embarrassed Harper government, the pledge and apology were an effort to repair relations with a country it has been assiduously courting.

India's booming economy makes it a major target for attempts to build trade ties to the East.

Canada and India now chalk up the incidents to overworked immigration officers in the New Delhi embassy, where about half of the 360 staff members work on immigration matters.

"The Government of Canada therefore deeply regrets the recent incident in which letters drafted by public service officials during routine visa refusals to Indian nationals cast false aspersions on the legitimacy of work carried out by Indian defence and security institutions, which operate under the framework of democratic processes and the rule of law," the paper quoted Kenney, as saying.

The apology didn't end there: It came with a pledge that Canada will review its policy on declaring foreigners inadmissible.

The incident, he added, "has demonstrated that the deliberately broad legislation may create instances when the net is cast too widely by officials, creating irritants with our trusted and valued international allies."

Canada's immigration law bars anyone who has committed war crimes or has "engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide."

India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has said that the matter now stands resolved and closed. (ANI)

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