Tamil migrants who were on the MV Sun Sea, the ship that recently docked in British Columbia, have been released from detention after spending one month behind bars. A federal judge had initially reserved his decision on whether they should be released until Friday, September 17th. On Friday, the judge ordered the Tamils, all women, to be released because he felt the federal government wasn’t moving fast enough.
For example, the government had scanned a one women’s birth certificate with the intention of e-mailing it to Sri Lanka to have it verified, but did not actually get around to it until two weeks later even though sending an e-mail takes literally seconds
They key issue for the government was releasing the migrants without necessarily knowing who they are, however according to one migrant’s lawyer the government did not have proof that the woman was a risk of any kind, but the government said they had to be sure of who the women were before releasing them.
When the Tamils arrived, they were inadmissible to Canada until they filed their refugee claims, Once that was done, they have to be examined by immigration officials and can be detained for as long as this process takes or if they are a security risk.
In his decision, judge Yves de Montigny said that there was no evidence the women posed a flight risk and no evidence that once released the government would have any trouble identifying them. There was no reason to keep the women in custody, and Legal Services Society of B.C. has recently stated that actions such as these are draining all of their resources and funds.
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