First Tamil migrant from the MV Sun Sea ordered deported

Posted by admin on Mar 9th, 2011

By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News, Mar. 9 2011

One Tamil migrant out of the hundreds who came ashore in B.C. last summer was ordered deported Tuesday after he was found by the Immigration and Refugee Board to have been a member of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from 1991 to 1996. During that time, the man — who can only be identified as B189 due to a publication ban — joined the Tamil Tigers’ naval wing and engaged in a three-hour battle with a Sri Lankan ship, during which he was shot in the leg, said IRB spokeswoman Melissa Anderson, who attended Tuesday’s hearing.

The migrant — who did not speak at Tuesday’s hearing and remained impassive throughout, according to Anderson — has the option of asking the Federal Court of Canada to review the decision.

He is the first of the 492 migrants who arrived on the MV Sun Sea last year to be deported due to links to the Tigers. His deportation gives a measure of vindication to the Harper government, which has claimed repeatedly that some of the Sun Sea migrants are suspected of engaging in terrorism.

“The Immigration and Refugee Board has determined the subject to be a risk to our national security and is not admissible to Canada under our laws,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement Tuesday. “Today’s decision is an unmitigated victory for the rule of law.

“Our government will continue our fight to preserve the integrity of our immigration system for those who come to Canada lawfully — including all legitimate refugees. Canada will continue to opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Carla Medley, a Canada Border Services Agency representative, told the board that the migrant had undergone basic training for three or four months and also received combat training where he learned to fire a weapon, Anderson said.

He was then recruited to join the Tigers’ naval wing — the Sea Tigers — in 1993 and worked as a motor mechanic.

The role he performed was “not marginal,” Medley said, according to Anderson.

The migrant’s lawyer, Robin Bajer, argued that his client was young when he joined and didn’t really have any motivation to join; he just went along with his friends, Anderson said.

Bajer added that his client fled the Tigers in 1996 but was caught and ended up having to perform a year of manual labour. He had no involvement with the group after 1997.

Under Canadian immigration law, the immigration board only has to find that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the migrant was a member of the Tigers. In his ruling, adjudicator Michael McPhalen said the threshold had been met and ordered the migrant deported.

The Tigers were engaged in a lengthy civil war with the Sri Lankan government that ended with the Tigers’ defeat in 2009. The group is considered a terrorist organization and is banned in Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency is seeking the removal of 33 Sun Sea migrants — either alleging membership in the Tamil Tigers or serious criminal pasts.

Besides migrant B189, only one other of the flagged migrants — B173 — has had a so-called admissibility hearing. In the first case, the IRB adjudicator found that the government had failed to show that the migrant was a member of the Tigers and allowed him to proceed with his refugee claim.

Those deemed inadmissible are subject to removal orders, effectively quashing any chance they have of proceeding with their refugee claims.

In 2009, another vessel — the Ocean Lady — carrying 76 Tamil migrants arrived on B.C.’s coast. None of them were deemed inadmissible.
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