Refugee board rules Tamil migrant not a security threat

Posted by admin on Mar 6th, 2011

The Canadian Press, Mar. 6 2011

VANCOUVER—A Tamil migrant accused of terrorism links by the federal government isn’t a threat to national security and can proceed with his refugee claim, the Immigration and Refugee Board has ruled. The man, whose identity is under a publication ban, is one of 32 people who arrived in a group of nearly 500 migrants on British Columbia shores last August now accused of terrorism, war crimes or human smuggling.

In early February he was the first to go before the board arguing he was never a member of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a claim by the Ministry of Public Safety that board member Marc Tessler ruled against.

In his written decision, released to the media late Sunday, Tessler said mere association with the organization isn’t enough to constitute membership in the group.

The man had admitted he worked for a Tamil Tiger-owned garage because he lived in a controlled region, but never joined.

“While the work he did … could be considered as providing material support for the organization it did not rise above the unavoidable dealings that anyone in the … area would likely have had with the LTTE,” Tessler said.

“In the context of life in the LTTE-controlled … area, the evidence does not support a finding that (the man) crossed the line from mere sympathizer or supporter to member.”

During his hearing, the man confirmed some other facts the government lawyer tried to use against him, including the fact he watched a roadside drama put on by the Tigers and was forced to dig bunkers for the group when he was young.

But in his ruling, Tessler said everyone living in a controlled region would have associations with the group, from paying a bus fare or selling a soft drink to a soldier, to teaching children in a Tiger-created school. He said that considering anyone who filled such roles to be a member would be “unrestrained.”

The man will face a routine detention hearing within the next 30 days to determine whether he can be released from custody. The government can appeal Tessler’s ruling to the Immigration Appeals Division or Federal Court.

About 30 inadmissibility hearings are still expected amongst migrants who arrived on the MC Sun Sea. A second man will face the hearing board on Tuesday.

According to an Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman, about 100 migrants still remain in custody.

Note to readers: Note to Readers: This is corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said that the migrant should be welcomed into Canada. In fact the ruling says he is not a threat to Canada.

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