Adjudicators and judges at odds over Tamil migrant-ship refugee claims

DOUGLAS QUAN
POSTMEDIA NEWS

MV Sun Sea

The MV Sun Sea is photographed docked at the Nanaimo Shipyard in Newcastle Island Passage in this file photo. Krista Bryce/Postmedia News

They made their journey on the MV Sun Sea together. But is every passenger from the ship that carried nearly 500 Tamil migrants to Canada in 2010 at risk of persecution if sent home because of the vessel’s links to the Tamil Tigers rebel group and their own notoriety?

It’s a question that’s dividing Canada’s immigration adjudicators and federal judges as they struggle to determine the asylum-seekers’ fate, according to court documents.

At issue is whether the publicity around the ship’s arrival — which reignited an immigration debate in Canada — and its ties to the Tamil Tigers now make all of the migrants members of a “social group” that would be exposed to persecution in Sri Lanka.

In a decision released this week, Federal Judge Sean Harrington said members of the Immigration and Refugee Board and justices of the Federal Court have not been consistent on this question. As a result, “it may well be a matter of chance” who is allowed to stay in Canada and who is not, the judge said.

So, in an effort to bring consistency to the issue, Harrington certified a question, which paves the way for the Federal Court of Appeal to determine what the appropriate standard of review should be.

His decision stemmed from an Immigration and Refugee Board ruling involving a Sun Sea passenger identified as “B472.”

An IRB adjudicator had previously found that the young migrant had a “well-founded fear of persecution” if returned to Sri Lanka because of membership in a particular “social group.” Even though the migrant had no affiliations with the Tamil Tigers prior to his departure, his status as a passenger on the Sun Sea raised that issue, thus exposing him to the possibility of persecution, the IRB found.

The Tamil Tigers were engaged in a lengthy civil war with the Sri Lankan government until the Tigers’ defeat in 2009.

Under Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, someone can be found to be a refugee if they have a well-founded fear of persecution “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

But representatives for the federal immigration minister disagreed, saying it was unreasonable for the IRB to find that all the Sun Sea’s passengers belonged to the same “social group.”

They said the IRB should have applied a different section of the law, Section 97, which requires a higher standard of proof before protection is granted.

Harrington agreed, saying that the Sun Sea’s passengers had a “myriad of motives” for coming to Canada. “Some were human smugglers. Some may well have been terrorists. Some were garden-variety criminals who wanted to escape justice. Some had serious reason to fear persecution in Sri Lanka and some, like Mr. 472, were economic migrants.

“It may well be that B472 faces a serious risk of persecution were he to be returned to Sri Lanka, but not because of his membership in a particular social group,” he said.

Harrington sent the case back to the IRB for redetermination.

But the judge also acknowledged that his colleagues within the Federal Court have ruled differently in similar cases. And so in the same ruling, he certified a question, which asks the federal appeal court to decide what the appropriate standard of review should be.





Featured

Riders were left stranded after Expo and Millennium lines of the SkyTrain stopped running in Vancouver on Monday. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines restart after 4.5 hour delay

VANCOUVER DESI UPDATE (5:05 p.m.): The Expo Line has been fixed and crews are conducting a safety sweep. The line is expected to open in segments…
Continue Reading »

A hangman's gallows sits idle at the Benghazi Central Prison on March 1, 2011 on the outskirts of Benghazi, Libya. Inmates broke free of the prison during the uprising a week ago in the city. John Moore/Getty Images

Indian state offers fat pay raise in attempt to attract applicants to jail hangman job

RAMESH BABU HINDUSTAN TIMES The Indian state of Kerala is offering a pay raise worth thousands of dollars in an attempt to attract more men…
Continue Reading »

Ukrainian emergency workers carry a stretcher with a victim's body in a bag through a field at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine Monday, July 21, 2014. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Vancouver’s Malaysian Consulate General holding condolence signing for victims of downed Malaysian Airliner MH17

VANCOUVER DESI The Malaysian Consulate General in Vancouver is holding a condolence signing Monday through Wednesday for the victims and families of those who perished…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Riders were left stranded after Expo and Millennium lines of the SkyTrain stopped running in Vancouver on Monday. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines restart after 4.5 hour delay

VANCOUVER DESI UPDATE (5:05 p.m.): The Expo Line has been fixed and crews are conducting a safety sweep. The line is expected to open in segments…
Continue Reading »

Ukrainian emergency workers carry a stretcher with a victim's body in a bag through a field at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine Monday, July 21, 2014. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Vancouver’s Malaysian Consulate General holding condolence signing for victims of downed Malaysian Airliner MH17

VANCOUVER DESI The Malaysian Consulate General in Vancouver is holding a condolence signing Monday through Wednesday for the victims and families of those who perished…
Continue Reading »

Narinder Kaur Kalsi, who has been on life support, since a domestic dispute at her Surrey home last week has died. Kalsi was pronounced dead just before 4:30 p.m. Sunday, said police. Her husband Beldev Singh Kalsi was arrested and charged in connection to her death. — Facebook Photo.

Surrey temple president charged with murder as wife dies in hospital after alleged domestic assault

CHERYL CHAN  VANCOUVER DESI The charge against a former Surrey temple president has again been upgraded after his wife, who suffered severe injuries in an…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Shadab (L) and Sanjana's relationship has finally been accepted by their families and they will be  getting married soon. Gagan Nayar/Hindustan Times Photo

Man in India to marry transgendered woman with both families’ blessings

VANCOUVER DESI After a nine-year relationship filled with “emotional turmoil,” a gay man in India has finally been accepted by his family and allowed to…
Continue Reading »

File photo of a worker in a jungle in Quintana Roo State, Mexico. A baby girl was found abandoned in a jungle in India. Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Abandoned eight-month-old in India makes incredible survival in remote jungle area

CEN NEWS A group of Indian lumberjacks were shocked to find a baby girl in a remote jungle area after she had apparently been abandoned…
Continue Reading »

A screen grab of Google Maps shows the northern Indian city of Bareilly, in which Bargauna village is located, where a mother was burnt alive when she confronted burglars in her home. Screengrab/Google Maps

Mom in India burnt alive by burglars in front of five-year-old daughter

CEN NEWS Indian woman Raaka Tamasi, 30, who apparently disturbed burglars that had broken into her house in the village of Bargauna in the northern…
Continue Reading »

courtroom drama

A different kind of courtroom drama: Woman gives birth to baby girl in witness room

IANS London – A heavily-pregnant woman gave birth to a baby girl in a court in Britain after going into labour in the witness room,…
Continue Reading »

Desi stylist and wedding planner

Vancouver woman aghast when only one man among 100 shoppers at Metrotown tried to help when her purse was stolen

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI Is chivalry dead? A woman whose purse was snatched from the busy food court at Metrotown was dismayed that none of…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

basu

Bollywood stars outshine fashion at India Couture Week 2014 (w/ gallery)

NIVEDITA IANS New Delhi  – Design esthetics and creativity may have impressed fashion patrons at the just concluded Shree Raj Mahal Jewellers India Couture Week…
Continue Reading »

JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images

Sonam Kapoor unveils Khoobsurat trailer (w/ video)

IANS Mumbai — Actress Sonam Kapoor Monday unveiled the trailer of her upcoming film Khoobsurat, and said the film’s producer and director have “exposed me…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actor and activist

Aamir Khan’s daughter organizes charity celebrity football match

IANS Mumbai  – Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s daughter Ira organized a celebrity football match to raise funds for an animal welfare shelter. The charity match…
Continue Reading »