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

Vaisakhi Parade Surrey

Vaisakhi Parade: Values of Sikhism to wash over the streets of Surrey

VANCOUVER DESI The streets of Surrey will be filled with the colours, sounds and sights of Sikhism this Saturday as some 200,000 people are expected…
Continue Reading »

Bharbhoor Singh

Surrey cadet Corps is pride of B.C.’s Sikh community

VANCOUVER DESI Like most teenagers his age, Sagar Singh Ghag loves his video games. Homework, chores and outdoor activities were all impediments to attaining supremacy…
Continue Reading »

Gian Singh Gill

Surrey Khalsa Day parade organizer is fuelled by faith

VANCOUVER DESI Gian Singh Gill is a man fuelled by his faith. Known for his gentle demeanour, the towering Gill is the President of Dasmesh…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Vaisakhi Parade Surrey

Vaisakhi Parade: Values of Sikhism to wash over the streets of Surrey

VANCOUVER DESI The streets of Surrey will be filled with the colours, sounds and sights of Sikhism this Saturday as some 200,000 people are expected…
Continue Reading »

Bharbhoor Singh

Surrey cadet Corps is pride of B.C.’s Sikh community

VANCOUVER DESI Like most teenagers his age, Sagar Singh Ghag loves his video games. Homework, chores and outdoor activities were all impediments to attaining supremacy…
Continue Reading »

Gian Singh Gill

Surrey Khalsa Day parade organizer is fuelled by faith

VANCOUVER DESI Gian Singh Gill is a man fuelled by his faith. Known for his gentle demeanour, the towering Gill is the President of Dasmesh…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Surrey Vaisakhi Parade

The sheer awe of Amritsar

VANCOUVER DESI Amritsar, literally a Pool of Nectar, derives its name from Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the splendid Golden Temple. Guru Ramdas,…
Continue Reading »

Vaisakhi Parade Surrey

Vaisakhi recipes and the concept of free kitchens

VANCOUVER DESI Food, especially feeding others for free, is a central philosophy of Sikhism. Sikhs do not have many strict rules regarding food but many…
Continue Reading »

Muslim Surveillance Program

New York police ends Muslim surveillance program that sparked outrage

TOM HAYS And JAKE PEARSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — The New York Police Department said Tuesday it has disbanded a special unit whose efforts to…
Continue Reading »

Selfies - inked finger-Twitter

Indian city bans selfies inside polling booths (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI The next selfie you snap could land you in jail – for Indian voters at least. According to Indian news publication the Bangalore…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan would love to dance on ‘Gangnam Style’ with Psy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan wants to dance with Korean rap sensation Psy on his global hit Gangnam Style, according to the Press…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Hrithik Roshan seeks health tips for ‘shin splints’ from Twitter fans

IANS Mumbai – Actor Hrithik Roshan, who underwent brain surgery last year, is again suffering from “shin splints”. The 40-year-old complained of pain in the…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Rajeev Khandelwal: Being in industry an endless marathon

IANS Mumbai – Actor Rajeev Khandelwal says that being in the film industry is like an endless marathon and the one who survives till the…
Continue Reading »