Men arrested during immigration raids want apology: lawyer

Posted by admin on Mar 28th, 2013

CBC News Posted: Mar 28, 2013 3:35 PM PT

Six men arrested by border security guards during a controversial immigration raid say they want an apology from federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Their arrests drew national interest and widespread criticism because a reality TV crew accompanied officers on the raid, which took place on a Vancouver construction site earlier this month. Documents obtained by CBC News showed that Toews personally approved the collaboration between the CBSA and the show, called Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.

Toews defended the show in Parliament in Ottawa, saying Border Security merely documents what Canada’s border officers face on a daily basis.

But Zool Suleman, a lawyer representing the six men, said Toews should apologize.

“Say you’re sorry, it’s not very complicated,” Suleman said. “My clients are not here for the entertainment of other people.”

Produced by Vancouver-based Force Four Entertainment and broadcast on the National Geographic channel, the show’s producers maintain it is a “documentary series” and that no one will be identified in the programs without their written permission and even with consent, their names will not be revealed.

But Suleman says his clients were intimidated and were handed TV release forms at the same time as crucial immigration documents.

One of the men arrested, who has since been deported back to his native Mexico, said he was confused when he signed the release form, thinking the show’s producers were immigration officials.

Suleman has joined Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association in calling for the cancellation of the show.

“There’s nothing wrong with any government department or agency communicating with people in Canada about their operations,” said BCCLA spokesman Josh Patterson.

“That should not be done in a way that puts people’s rights in jeopardy.”

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