Sri Lankan Tamil held in Canada for war crimes

November 4th, 2010 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Nov 4 (IANS) A Tamil asylum seeker has been arrested in Canada for war crimes.

The migrant is one of the 492 Sri Lankan Tamils who were smuggled into Vancouver in August on a ship from Thailand.

The accused is under detention in Vancouver and faces deportation to Sri Lanka if charges of war crimes against him are proved.

Under Canadian immigration laws, anyone guilty of war crimes or terror acts is inadmissible in the country.

The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA), which deals with deportations, refused to say anything about the detained Tamil Wednesday.

But a spokesman for Canadian Public Safety minister Vic Toews was quoted as saying, “What I can tell you is that our government will not sit back while Canada becomes a target for criminal operations that are trying to take advantage of Canada’s generosity.”

Each Tamil reportedly paid $40,000 to $50,000 to the smuggling ship MV Sun Sea which brought them to Vancouver from Thailand.

Outraged by the illegal arrival of so many Tamils into the country, the Canadian government has just introduced a new bill to curb human smuggling, with severe penalties for smugglers, long detentions and deportations of such people.

Under the new law, those smuggled into the country will be detained up to one year to determine their true identity and not allowed to live freely in Canada as the case now.

The new law will ensure quick prosecution and tougher jail terms for human smugglers.

Canada already has about 80,000 asylum cases pending before its refugee board. Each refugee costs the country about $30,000 annually.

According to Canada’s attorney general, 63,000 refugees ordered to be deported are still in the country and 41,000 have gone missing.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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