Ottawa faulted for alleged political interference in Tamil asylum cases
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 January 2011, 03:36 GMT]
A "persuasive decision" memorandum issued by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) claiming that Tamils, particularly young males, will not be prosecuted in Sri Lanka because of their political opinions, was condemned as biased, and was questioned whether political interference from Ottawa prompted the IRB to highlight a ruling that rejected the claim of a young Tamil immigrant. The case cited in the new IRB policy involved a 25-year-old Tamil male from Sri Lanka who arrived in Canada in 2009 and not on either of the high-profile boats.
The notice labeled the decision as "persuasive" encouraging future adjudications to arrive at a similar ruling in Tamil refugee cases that were similar to the one highlighted by the IRB.
An IRB adjudicator determined that the political landscape in Sri Lanka had "radically changed" since a civil war ended there in May 2009. "The evidence leads me to conclude that the changes in Sri Lanka are meaningful and durable and that the claimant's fear of persecution . . . is not well founded," according to the Vancouver Sun.
Douglas Cannon, a Vancouver lawyer who has represented many Tamil migrants, including those who arrived aboard the MV Sun Sea last August, said Tuesday the fact the directive was released at a time when human smuggling is a hot political issue in Ottawa raises questions about the impartiality of the IRB, the paper said, also quoting Cannon as saying, "[i]t smacks of political interference. It comes across as a process that is being manipulated."
Sean Rehaag, a refugee law expert at the Osgoode Hall Law School, said it seems as if IRB managers issue notices of "persuasive decisions" during politically charged climates, which raises a perception of bias and a perception that the IRB is trying to manage controversy, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The Globe and Mail reported that Lorne Waldman, a Toronto lawyer, has filed an application with the Federal Court of Canada for leave to seek judicial review of the persuasive decision. “What’s before the court is whether this decision is legally sound,” he said, declining to comment further, the paper said.
Daniel McLeod, a Vancouver lawyer who has represented many of the recent Tamil migrants, said the decision appeared to be politically motivated. He accused Ottawa of trying to stymie Tamil refugees at a time when the number of claims is high, the Globe and Mail added.
11.07.10 Boat refugees ‘not Tigers’, Canada admits