Canada criticized for presuming Tamil boatmen to be LTTE activists

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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Canada, Aug 14 (ANI): Canada has been criticized for concluding that a boat entering the country on Friday with 490 suspected asylum seekers might include members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

" Let's not jump to conclusions without facts. Until we assess each of the refugee claimant's individual situation under Canadian law, we don't know whether they are genuine refugees or not. And if they are, their file should be done quickly and accepted so they can stay here. If not, they should be deported," The Globe and Mail News quoted New Democratic Party (NDP) immigration critic Olivia Chow, as saying.

Referring to Ottawa's infamous decision to turn away Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Chow warned Canada not to forget its past record on dealing with refugees.

"We should follow the refugee law and treat these individuals equally under Canadian law," she added.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association called on Ottawa to respect the human rights of those on board.

"Canada must also ensure that the mistakes made in the handling of many of the Tamil migrants arriving on the MV Ocean Lady last October not be repeated," the association said.

While concerns about national security and human smuggling are key to refugee cases, critics believe that hyped-up hysteria about terrorism should not be used as an excuse to turn away legitimate refugees or deny help to those who desperately need it.

Unlike Australia, Canada cannot adopt a policy to turn the boats away before entering Canadian waters, as it would be a violation the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its obligations under international law.

In 1997, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights determined unequivocally that such conduct would be contrary to Canada's international obligations.

Canada has said that it considers the 'MV Sun Sea', which docked at Forces Base Esquimalt near Victoria carrying these refugees on Friday, a "test boat" to probe the country's receptiveness to ship-borne refugees by people with similar interests, as part of a 'wider human smuggling operation' to send more illegals in the region.

"I consider the MV Sun Sea a "test boat" to probe Canada's receptiveness to ship-borne refugee claims, part of a wider human smuggling operation with designs on sending more illegals here," The Globe and Mail News quoted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, as saying.

"This particular situation is being observed by others who may have similar intentions and I think it's very important that Canada deals with the situation in a clear and decisive way. I don't view this as an isolated, independent act," he added.

A Canadian government source has revealed the authorities have reports that two foreign ships are in South Asian waters collecting passengers with an eye to enter the country. (ANI)

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