Lawyer tells hearing Tamils weren’t ‘smuggled’ into Canada

Posted by admin on Apr 17th, 2011

By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News April 16, 2011

Contrary to the government’s repeated assertions, the arrival last summer of 492 Tamils aboard the MV Sun Sea was not part of a humansmuggling operation, a lawyer for one of the migrants said Friday. In a rare appearance before the Immigration and Refugee Board, Rod Holloway, managing lawyer of appeals at the Legal Services Society of B.C., said smuggling is defined, in part, as “clandestine entry” into a country. Holloway agreed that the Sun Sea’s arrival was part of a complex, wellorganized and probably profitable operation, but “the intention appears to have been to bring the ship to Canada and report to a port of entry, not to enter Canada clandestinely.”

He played a television report from around the time of the ship’s arrival that suggested the passengers were happy to be met by Canadian authorities.

“The intention was to come and make refugee claims,” he said. “I suggest to you there’s no human smuggling in this case.”

The argument -which contrasts starkly with the narrative that the government has been putting forward for months -was made at an admissibility hearing for a migrant who, the Canada Border Services Agency alleges, was a member of the ship’s 12-man crew and engaged in people smuggling. If the board agrees, he could be deported.

Kenny Nicolaou, the CBSA representative seeking deportation, said the Sun Sea’s arrival was the conclusion of a large smuggling operation and that the crew was an extension of that operation. He said the man was among the first to board, slept in a cabin, and had a pre-determined role.

While he may not have been a mastermind, he knowingly and actively participated in facilitating the “illegal journey” to Canada, Nicolaou said.

“The MV Sun Sea could not have been planned, organized and completed if the organizers hadn’t set up the appropriate people to get it from point A to point B.”

Holloway said his client’s role, to monitor the engine room’s gauges, was “hardly instrumental.”

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