Tamil migrants may walk free following Canadian Govt plans to drop secret hearings

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Vancouver, Jan. 16 (ANI): The Canadian Government has abandoned its earlier plan to launch secret hearings to argue for the continued detention of 25 Tamil migrants.

The Globe and Mail quoted a government lawyer as saying that Ottawa will no longer argue for the continued incarceration of the migrant men, who arrived on a freighter last October claiming they were refugees fleeing post-war Sri Lanka.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Refugee Board confirmed that the applications were withdrawn.

The development means that all 76 of the Tamil boat people could be freed in the coming weeks.

Some of the migrants' lawyers, whose clients faced the secret hearings, said they were thrilled to learn that the Tamil men will finally be released from custody.

But they questioned why the government launched the expensive, time-consuming hearings in the first place.

"They goofed. These guys [migrants] have been painted and tarred guilty and now we have an 11th-hour hiccup [from the government]," said lawyer Robert Blanshay, who represents six migrants facing Section 86 hearings.

From the outset, the government has argued that it believes that some of the men are linked to the LTTE, a separatist group that had waged a 25-year civil war with the Sri Lankan government.

The migrants were all incarcerated in a Vancouver-area detention centre.

In December, the government had announced that it would proceed with the Section 86 hearings against 25 of the men, and unlike ordinary detention hearings, these sessions are closed to the public, to the migrants involved and to their lawyers, and the evidence given is secret. (ANI)

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