Set Free

VANCOUVER, September 18, 2010 (AFP) – Canada’s Federal Court ordered Friday the release of four women out of nearly 500 Tamils from Sri Lanka, who arrived via a cargo ship in Western Canada last month and claimed refugee status.

As of Friday the government had appealed all but one release order — for a heavily-pregnant woman who was recently freed and is reportedly being cared for by a local refugee agency here.

Immigration hearings and court rulings are continuing on a daily basis.

The mass arrival has swamped local legal services and on Thursday the provincial legal aid organization appealed to the governments of British Columbia and Canada for more money to pay lawyers.

There is a publication ban on the migrant’s names and any identifying details. The ruling is a defeat for Canada’s government, which asked the court to overturn decisions by the independent Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to release some of the migrants under conditions to ensure they report for future hearings.

Border officials detained all 380 men and 63 women who arrived August 13 aboard the rickety ship the MV Sun Sea. They were accompanied by 49 children, who were allowed to stay with the migrants in jail or were placed with s