Canadian embassies are not safe enough

budget-federal-exercice-2013-14The Conservative government has known for two years that twenty Canadian embassies abroad security measures are not sufficient to ensure the protection of diplomatic staff and buildings.

A series of internal government documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service show that some officials have raised the alarm following the attack against a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013. The three-day assault gunmen of al-Shabab has killed at least 67 people.

The notes show that the death of Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges and the Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji in the attack were brought to the growing concerns over the violence and instability in the wake of the Arab Spring to a signal alarm.

Memos obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act indicate that a new wave of concern has overwhelmed the department and the agency after the entrance hall of the Canadian Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, had been occupied for a week by pro-European protesters in February 2014.

According to the highly redacted documents, six weeks after the incident in the Ukrainian capital, four ministers attended a special information meeting at which methods of “reducing vulnerability” of Canadian facilities outside the country were their Recommended, including major projects aimed at improving the physical security of the premises.

Despite the urgency of the situation, the Cabinet has not yet approved the financing of the plan to make Canada’s embassies and official residences abroad safer.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nicolas Dora, said that the government was taking the issue very seriously and monitoring the situation in different countries remote to put in place the appropriate measures to protect its employees.

In the federal budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, $ 129 million was provided to “strengthen security” in embassies, but a $ 69 million remains unspent and is in the flow of federal cash equivalent status by the opposition in an attempt to reduce the deficit.

A recent report by CTV News quoted a secret note of 9 September warning deputies that “20 percent of foreign missions were now categorized high-risk.”

Canada operates more than 170 foreign missions, which means that 34 of them would be considered vulnerable. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that up to 27 of them have experienced improvements in the safety of installations since 2010, but officials warn that foreign affairs work remains to be done.

The government’s obligation is not limited to brick and mortar, they stressed, arguing the importance of protecting the staff at home and on the move.

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