Lankan migrant in B.C. deemed potential security risk

9 February 2012 01:14 am - 4     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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MAPLE RIDGE, B.C.: One of the 492 Sri Lankan migrants who arrived in Canada last month aboard the MV Sun Sea allegedly travelled to foreign countries with a delegation belonging to the Tamil Tigers terrorist organisation, a hearing into his detention heard Wednesday.

The migrant initially denied to investigators any association with the Tigers or having travelled outside Sri Lanka. But when confronted with a newspaper article about the trip, he admitted travelling with the group as a member of the media.

Jennifer Friburg, a lawyer representing the Canada Border Services Agency, said the migrant's contradictory statements "clearly indicates deception" and "negatively impacts his credibility" and called for his continued detention on the grounds that he posed a possible security threat.

It was the first time since the migrants' arrival on Aug. 13 that government lawyers argued that a migrant should be held on security grounds. All other migrants continue to be held on grounds that their identities have not been verified.
The migrant in question, wearing a strawberry-coloured jumpsuit and white sneakers, sat stoically with his arms crossed. He did not speak. The newspaper article states that the eight-member Tamil Tiger delegation had travelled abroad to raise tsunami-relief funds.

The man's lawyer, Antya Schrack, stressed that the man travelled as an independent media representative and that there is no evidence he was actually part of the delegation.
Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Marc Tessler said there "may be an innocent explanation" for the migrant's actions but his mention in the newspaper article and his initial denials about having travelled abroad provide sufficient reason to hold him on security grounds.

Prior to the resumption of detention hearings Wednesday, lawyers for the migrants had said they expected the government would start seeking detentions on security grounds, especially since Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had stated publicly that the migrants included suspected terrorists who belong to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, a separatist group that battled the Sri Lankan government for 25 years and whose members are banned from entering Canada.

Even though hearings for other migrants Wednesday remained largely devoted to updating the status of verifying their identities, government lawyers cited other security concerns in prepared talking points before adjudicators.

They said that authorities had found numerous pieces of identification aboard the ship that had either been torn up or could not be linked to any individuals. The documents included a birth certificate, a death certificate, two national ID cards, 300 pieces of various birth certificates and various pages from passports.

The discovery of these items "gives rise to the general concern that attempts have been made to conceal identity," said Parm Singh, one of the government lawyers.

The apparent fact that the migrants arrived in Canada as part of an organized human smuggling operation and the fact that there is an ongoing RCMP investigation gives rise to concerns about the documents being provided, government lawyers said.

One hearing heard that a national ID card that a migrant had submitted appeared authentic but may have been altered because of the discovery of a "fibre disturbance" on the back of the card.

Government lawyers said they now have identity documents for 380 individuals and that documents for 290 of them have been sent to a lab for analysis.

Assessments for 40 individuals have been completed, though it remained unclear what the results of those assessments were.

Even if documents are deemed to be authentic, they may still have to undergo further checks to ensure they weren't issued or obtained fraudulently, Singh said. In some cases, investigators have had to retrieve migrants' job, school, bank and health records to corroborate details about their identities.
Investigators have also had to reach out to agencies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

But at least one of the migrants should have been released by now, migrant lawyer Dan McLeod said during one hearing Wednesday.
McLeod criticized government lawyers for issuing a lot of "rhetoric" and questioned what purpose continued detention would serve. He requested that a client be released under certain conditions but that request was denied.

By late Wednesday, none of the migrants who appeared before an adjudicator had been granted release. They are permitted to have another hearing within 30 days.

Since their arrival, the migrants have been held in three detention facilities: one for men, one for single women and one for women with children. Detention hearings for the men have been held inside cramped trailers set up next to the detention facility.
A publication ban prevents media from reporting certain details heard at the hearings that could identify the migrants.

Last October, 76 Tamil migrants showed up on the B.C. coast aboard another vessel, the Ocean Lady.
Initially, the 76 migrants — all men — were held on the grounds that their identities needed to be verified. But after a couple of weeks, the government started making the case that the migrants were potential security threats.

They were all eventually released. (Source: Ottawa Citizen)

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  • gajan99 Thursday, 09 February 2012 11:27 AM

    Do not send back to Sri lanka.

    AMT Thursday, 09 February 2012 03:09 AM

    A colleague of Karuna??

    perera Thursday, 09 February 2012 11:48 AM

    canada you are welcome to give succour to these degerate murderers as you usually do
    good luck when the proverbial hits the fan in crime extortion etc

    Nodrog Thursday, 09 February 2012 03:56 AM

    well, serves you right for encouraging these types. Keep him there and don't send him back.


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