There are thousands of people living in Canada who are effectively above the law.
They can speed on the highway, rob people and banks, and assault others—with a weapon—and never fear prosecution in Canadian courts. They are ambassadors, diplomats, their staff and their family, here to represent their foreign countries’ best interests and caught behaving very badly.
Immunity allows individuals with diplomatic status to avoid lawsuits and criminal prosecution in their host country. Embassies must agree to waive that immunity in order for individuals to face charges—something that is rarely done.
CityNews has acquired over a year’s worth of secret reports through an Access to Information request with Global Affairs Canada, detailing alleged crimes, potential human trafficking, and over 60 refugee claims by foreign embassy and consulate staff and their families.
Of note is the continued suspicion that several embassies and consulates are involved in the abuse or human trafficking of domestic workers in their employ. A report from June 2016 reads, “The bureau has detected several workplace rights abuses, irregularities or unacceptable breaches of related Canadian policy laws, in diplomatic and consular households.” Although the report is short in details, it notes that not only are diplomatic staff accused of the abuse—but at least two ambassadors and a high commissioner (the head of mission from a Commonwealth country) are implicated as well.
Only six months ago, a local police force approached the Office of Protocol with a potential human trafficking case involving a member of an unnamed diplomatic mission. There are allegations of underpayment, verbal and physical abuse and withholding of personal documents. Other complaints involve allegations of a staff member being locked in their room at the end of their shift. Police continue to investigate and are working with the department.
Victims won’t get justice
A series of particularly violent crimes allegedly committed by a diplomat’s family member will go unpunished. After being accused of robbery with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, intimidation and conspiracy to commit a crime, diplomatic accreditation was finally stripped from the accused and they were sent back to their home country. This was at least the second time the individual had been accused of assault—the embassy repeatedly refused to waive their immunity.
The names of the individuals and the embassies and consulates they represent have been redacted. A warning at the end of the reports points out: “disclosure of this information can reasonably be expected to cause serious injury to Canada’s interest…”
- Potential human trafficking in at least one diplomatic residence
- Assault causing bodily harm, robbery with a weapon, intimidation and conspiracy to commit a crime—accused is sent home after several months, no charges or trial.
- Diplomat’s child accused of assaulting a police officer and theft—extrajudicial diversion
- Harassment allegations against a diplomat agent that are part of a “pattern of allegations … of such serious concern,” that the Office of Protocol would seek the accused’s expulsion with any subsequent complaint
Life in the fast lane
- Two diplomatic agents caught with stunt driving (driving in excess of 50 km/hr over the speed limit)
- Several charges for speeding, careless and distracted driving, and driving with suspended licences
- 60 diplomats and their family members applied for refugee status over course of year
- At least 4 Canadian passports obtained illegally for diplomatic staff’s family
Children’s Aid Society
- Various Children’s Aid Society involvements with diplomatic families—including investigations into child safety and protection concerns, and allegations of domestic violence
- An unnamed embassy owed over $200,000 in back property taxes to the City of Ottawa
- Diplomat tried to export two Canadian-bought vehicles, without completely paying for them
- An embassy owed a property management company more than $23,000 in back rent and charges