Document mix-up delays confirmation of Tamils’ identities

Posted by admin on Aug 18th, 2010

Marten Youssef, Globe and Mail, Aug. 18, 2010

The Tamil migrants from the MV Sun Sea continue to be detained until their identities can be confirmed – something that will have to wait until Canadian immigration authorities sift through a jumble of the migrants’ documents and belongings inside two U-Haul trucks. When the 492 migrants disembarked from the MV Sun Sea last week, their identification documents and belongings were stored inside the two U-Hauls, but no record was made connecting the documents with their particular owners.

“The process is under way to match the documents with the individuals,” said lawyer Naima Karimullah, who represents the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), during Immigration and Refugee Board hearings Wednesday.

Lawyers for some of the migrants are complaining, saying the matching process is creating an unnecessary delay in confirming identities, and is all the more objectionable since the CBSA did the same thing with documents belonging to a shipload of Tamil migrants that arrived off the B.C. coast last fall.

“I am concerned that [CBSA] have, as they did previously, put all of the documents together rather than matching them to the [claimants],” said Daniel McLeod, a lawyer for some of the men.

The CBSA said it has matched all of the women to their documents, although they have yet to verify their authenticity.

The hearings for the male detainees are taking place simultaneously in four temporary trailers at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge, B.C., where as many as 380 men are being held. As of Wednesday morning, detention reviews for 17 men had been completed, and another eight for women. The IRB hoped to complete 100 hearings on Wednesday, including those in Maple Ridge and in Vancouver, where the female detainees are being reviewed.

According to a duty counsel who spoke on condition of anonymity, 10 men are being held in segregation because of suspicion they may have a communicable disease.

Lawyers for some of the male Tamil migrants argued the men brought with them identification and many have immediate family members in Toronto. Some of the men have even provided the tribunal with their family’s phone numbers in Toronto.

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