Canada takes hard line on Tamil migrants

VANCOUVER, August 17, 2010 (AFP) – A Canadian tribunal on Tuesday ordered continued detention for the first person interviewed in a group of 492 Tamil asylum seekers that reached Vancouver last week aboard a battered cargo ship. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, citing sovereignty, “significant security concerns” and “increasing” human smuggling for financial gain, said that authorities will screen each of the migrants individually.

“It’s a fundamental exercise of sovereignty and we’re responsible for the security of our borders and the ability to welcome people or not welcome people when they come,” Harper told reporters.

“We’re a land of refuge, but the same time I think that people are concerned when they come not through any normal arrival,” he said. “This leads to significant security concerns.”

The Tamil migrants reached Canada Friday after a 90-day journey aboard the MV Sun Sea, a shabby cargo ship. A male migrant died at sea from an undisclosed illness, police said.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews warned that the ship may include members of the Tamil Tigers — a banned terrorist group — and told reporters that the passengers paid up to 50,000 Canadian dollars (48,000 US dollars) for the t