Deportation orders have been issued against two more of the 492 Sri Lankan refugee claimants who arrived off the B.C. coast in 2010 aboard the smuggling ship MV Sun Sea.
In separate decisions, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ordered the expulsion of both men, ruling one had engaged in people smuggling and the other had been a member of a Tamil rebel group.
The cases bring to 19 the number of Sun Sea migrants who have been issued deportation orders to date. All have been declared inadmissible to Canada due to their involvement in terrorism and crime.
“Canada opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules. However, we must crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity, often for financial gain,” Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said Tuesday.
Neither of the latest deportees was named in the heavily edited rulings released to the National Post, but one was found to have served in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam between 2005 and 2006, when he was in his mid-20s.
“The evidence does not support that these actions were taken under duress, that he was forced to complete them,” according to the ruling. “He could have fled the area when he was asked to attend training.”
Also facing deportation is a 39-year-old who had initially sought refuge in India. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2009 to look into starting a business but instead decided to leave the country permanently, the ruling said.
In Colombo, he met a human smuggling organizer who was recruiting migrants for a sea voyage to Canada and made a down payment and signed a contract agreeing to pay the balance once the ship reached British Columbia.
When he got to Bangkok, he agreed to join the crew in exchange for a lower fare, the IRB said.
He and nine others boarded the ship on April 14, 2010, and for the next two months they sailed around the Gulf of Thailand while fishing vessels brought in supplies and migrants.
The passengers paid $5,000 to $10,000 in advance and pledged to pay 10 to 20 times that amount if the ship made it to Canada, the ruling said, adding the organizers of the smuggling operation had made millions in profits.
“He was aware that he and the other passengers paid enormous amounts of money, specifically to evade Canada’s requirements for passports and visas,” according to the ruling.
“He was aware that the voyage intended to bring migrants to Canada illegally.”
The Sun Sea was one of two human smuggling ships that sailed to Canada in 2009 and 2010, bringing close to 600 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who claimed they faced persecution in their home country.
Last month, the alleged organizer of the Sun Sea operation, Thayakaran Markandu, was arrested in France at the request of the RCMP. Four others were arrested in Toronto last year over their alleged roles in the MV Ocean Lady, which carried 76 Sri Lankans to Canada in October, 2009.
Refugee hearings for those found aboard the ships have been underway for several months. Canada’s acceptance rate for Sri Lankan refugees dropped to 57% last year from 91% in 2009, the year the country’s civil war ended.
The Conservatives have introduced legislation they say is needed to crack down on human smugglers. It is now before the immigration committee.
But opposition parties argue it is unnecessary and unfairly punishes refugee claimants. (National Post)