Tamil mother and children freed

Tamil mother and children freed

September 14, 2010   07:34 am

A translator and lawyers representing the federal government and Tamil migrants sit before an immigration adjudicator in Vancouver. (Jane Wolsak/CBC)

A month after the MV Sun Sea arrived under heavy security at the Esquimalt Navy base, a Tamil mother and her three children became the first of the 492 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers to be freed by the immigration and refugee board on Monday.


The woman’s identity is protected by a publication ban.


Earlier Monday, Public Safety Canada representative Ron Yamauchi successfully argued that another mother and her child should remain detained.


The woman appeared via teleconference from the Burnaby Youth Custody Services Centre. She had provided refugee and health documents, a postal identification card and temporary national identity card, but Canada Border Services Agency had not confirmed her identity.


IRB member Daphne Shaw-Dyck ordered the woman to appear Sept. 29 for her next hearing.


Yamauchi said a search of the Thai freighter yielded damaged or destroyed identification and he claimed there was an effort to conceal the identities of people on board the vessel.


Though many of the Tamils provided national identity cards or passports, Yamauchi said “corruption and unscrupulous behaviour of government officials in Sri Lanka” means documents may be illegitimate.


He claimed it can cost 2,500 rupees - the equivalent of $22 - to buy a forged Sri Lankan birth certificate which can be used to gain other government-issued identification.


Yamauchi said CBSA is assessing documents with biometric features, such as passports, national identity cards and driver’s licences.


A “migration integrity officer” in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is assisting CBSA while Canada is consulting the United Kingdom and Australia under international information-sharing agreements.


The Sun Sea was raided off Vancouver Island’s west coast Aug. 12 by RCMP officers and escorted to Esquimalt, B.C., by Canadian Navy tugboats on Aug. 13.


Public Safety Minister Vic Toews claimed the three-month journey was a human-smuggling enterprise organized by members of the terrorist Tamil Tigers. the Toronto Sun reports.

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