Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for bringing up this issue. I understand these women are his constituents, so he has brought this issue to Parliament.
This government takes very seriously its responsibility for the safety and security of its citizens abroad. Whenever Canadians are victims of a tragedy outside Canada, there is understandably a great deal of public interest and concern. This government shares that concern.
When a Canadian is murdered abroad, consular officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have an important role to assist the family of the victim. We have more than 270 points of service around the world to provide consular assistance to families dealing with these tragic situations. In the case of the Ianiero murders, our honorary consul in Cancun arrived on the scene within hours of the murder to provide consular support and assistance to the family.
As the hon. member knows, this government takes crimes against Canadians abroad very seriously. The role and the mandate of the Department of Foreign Affairs is to ensure that local police authorities actively investigate crimes against Canadian citizens.
As soon as we are advised that a Canadian citizen is the victim of a crime outside Canada, consular officials immediately contact local authorities to register our concern and to ensure that they are aware of the crime. Canada expects that all crimes against Canadians, wherever they occur, will be thoroughly investigated by local authorities and that due process will take place.
In the Ianiero case, consular officials were immediately in contact with Mexican authorities to insist on a thorough investigation and to emphasize our desire to see that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are brought to justice. However, it is the sole responsibility of the authorities in the foreign country to investigate the crime. Canadian officials have neither the mandate nor the jurisdiction to investigate this crime, or indeed any crime, perpetrated against Canadians outside Canada.
In some cases, we may receive a formal request from a foreign government for assistance with a particular criminal investigation. This initiative must be taken by the foreign government, not Canada. In the Ianiero case, the RCMP received a formal request for assistance from the Mexican authorities.
The RCMP and other Canadian law enforcement agencies continue to follow up on elements of the investigation here in Canada. However, the murder investigation remains the responsibility of the Mexican authorities.
I can assure the House that we will continue to follow developments on this case closely, as we do with all such cases where Canadian interests are concerned.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs met with Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim last December to hear their concerns. They raised the fact that their names had been mentioned several times by the Mexican attorney general responsible for the investigation. They asked for the minister's assistance to clear their names. The minister advised them that while it is possible under the Canadian system for investigative authorities to state publicly that certain individuals are no longer of interest as part of an investigation, he was unaware of a similar practice in Mexico. He also advised that it was likely that they would need to wait for charges to be laid before such a statement could be asked from the Mexicans.
Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim also expressed concerns that their names could be placed on a no-fly list by Mexican officials and that they could be sent to Mexico to face criminal proceedings. The minister stated, and I can confirm again today, that we are not aware of any criminal charges against either Ms. Everall or Ms. Kim.
We will continue to ensure that this case is brought to the highest level of the Mexican government. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs continuously bring this issue up with the Mexican authorities to ensure this investigation proceeds expeditiously. At the end of the day, we must recognize the fact that this investigation is conducted by the government of Mexico.
We will continue to talk to the Mexican authorities to ensure a thorough investigation by the police authorities in Mexico is undertaken.