Asylum seekers seek money not safe haven - GL

Asylum seekers seek money not safe haven - GL

October 14, 2010   08:20 am

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Lankan asylum seekers who attempt to reach Canada by illegal boats are economic migrants and not fearful refugees, Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris says. And a recent internal study by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo seems to give the minister’s claim some credence.

 

He adds that the aspiring refugees are being dishonest when they tell Canadian officials they fear for their personal safety in Sri Lanka

 

Peiris says the asylum seekers are economic migrants, not fearful refugees.

 

“‘There is no legitimate basis for an application of refugee status at all,”‘ Peiris said in an interview with the Star in his Colombo office.

 

“‘The changes which have come about in this country in recent months remove any fear on the part of a community of people, groups of people, or individuals of systematic persecution.

 

“‘The people who are now asking for refugee status are doing so for economic reasons, not because they fear for their lives. Okay, that is part of human nature. Everybody wants to improve their lot in life.

 

“‘They want to see greener pastures. That is fine. But to ascribe that to atrocities that are alleged to be taking place in this country, or to hide behind a smokescreen of imagined delinquencies or wrongdoings is, to say the least, disingenuous and it also does harm to the country.”‘

 

The Canadian High Commission in Colombo recently conducted an internal study and examined a limited number of case files of Sri Lankan Tamils who have been granted asylum in Canada since the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in May 2009. In more than half of the cases, the refugees had later returned to Sri Lanka after receiving Canadian citizenship and passports.

 

“‘It certainly raised some eyebrows,”‘ Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said recently in an interview with the Star in New Delhi.

 

“‘It’s a limited sample size but we do have a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest there’s a lot of people who gain protected status and return to their original country. We believe there is widespread abuse of our asylum system.”‘

 

To help stem the flow, the RCMP is set to open its first office in Colombo, officials said, part of a new effort to prevent migrants from setting out for Canada. Earlier this week, 155 Tamils were arrested in Bangkok. Reports suggest Canadian officials may have had a hand in tipping off Thai officials about the group.

 

Peiris also pointed out that Australia has suspended its processing of refugee applications from Sri Lankans.

 

“‘They said, ‘We are satisfied with the progress Sri Lanka has been making.’ That was a clear acknowledgement of the fact that we are moving in the right direction.”‘ The Star reports.



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