MV Sun Sea incident

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The MV Sun Sea in Esquimalt Harbour

MV Sun Sea is a cargo ship that brought 492 Sri Lankan Tamils into British Columbia, Canada in August 2010.[1]

The MV Sun Sea, a Thai cargo ship[2] which had been tracked by multiple countries since June 2010,[3] was intercepted off the coast of British Columbia on August 12, 2010, and boarded by Canadian authorities. Escorted by HMCS Winnipeg and HMCS Whitehorse,[2] it docked at CFB Esquimalt on August 13.[1] 492 Sri Lankan asylum seekers were on board, some with possible links to the Tamil Tigers.[4] The passengers left from Thailand on a three-month voyage.[5] 380 were men, 63 women, and 49 minors. All made refugee claims due to violence in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Civil War.[6]

On August 14 and 15,[3] the adult migrants were transferred to "accommodation and detention facilities" in the Lower Mainland, while minors were taken to low-risk facilities, with their mothers if they were accompanied.[7] On February 10, 2011, Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Tamil Congress, and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group criticized "the government's aggressive efforts to keep the passengers of the MV Sun Sea in detention", claiming that

Most refugee claimants are not detained on arrival in Canada, and those that are detained are usually released within a matter of days or weeks. In the case of the MV Sun Sea passengers, however, the government has been demanding more proofs of identity than usual, investing significant energy and resources in a search for adverse information about the passengers, advancing weak arguments for inadmissibility based on tenuous alleged connections with the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], vigorously opposing release by the Immigration and Refugee Board, and contesting orders of release in the Federal Court, even in cases involving children.[8]

In February 2011, the incident was estimated to have cost the federal government $25 million.[9] Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave Thailand $12 million to battle human smuggling operations in 2012, and the government toughened immigration laws and penalties on human smugglers.[6] Six suspects—two Canadians and four Sri Lankans—were charged in connection with the case.[10]

As of May 18, 2012, the majority of the passengers had been released, with refugee claims in progress. Two were in police custody, three were in Canada Border Services Agency detention, 19 had been given deportation orders for alleged crimes, six had been accepted as refugees, and six had had their claims rejected.[1]

At least one of the passengers from the MV Sun Sea who was deported from Canada was detained and tortured by Sri Lankan authorities. Sathyapavan Aseervatham was a passenger on the MV Sun Sea. He was deported from Canada to Sri Lanka in July 2011. He was arrested by Sri Lankan authorities upon his arrival in Sri Lanka and detained for over one year. After his releases from custody, Mr. Aseervatham provided an affidavit to his Canadian lawyer outlining the physical and psychological torture he suffered while detained in a Sri Lankan prison. This affidavit was provided to the Refugee Protection Division in private proceedings for other MV Sun Sea migrant hearings. It was later discovered that Canadian immigration authorities had shared this confidential affidavit with the Sri Lankan authorities who allegedly tortured Mr. Aseervatham. Mr. Aseervatham was subsequently killed in Sri Lanka when an unknown motorist struck him on the street.[11]

Another of the MV Sun Sea's passengers was murdered sometime late in 2015. Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam is one of a number of men whom Bruce McArthur is accused of killing in Toronto. His refugee claim, too, had been denied.[12]

In May 2018 Public Works and Government Services of Canada issued Letter of Interest for vessel Disposal scheduled to be complete by March 31, 2019.

As of August 30, 2019 the vessel was moved to the Nanaimo ship yard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Quan, Douglas (May 18, 2012). "Two years on, MV Sun Sea migrants still moving slowly through the legal pipeline". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Carlson, Kathryn Blaze (August 12, 2010). "Canadian authorities board Tamil ship". National Post. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Migrant Ships: A multi-jurisdictional approach to planning & response" (PDF). Pacific Northwest Border Health Alliance. May 26, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  4. ^ "Documents: The Sun Sea investigation". National Post. February 13, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  5. ^ "Smugglers may have made more than $20 m from Migrant ship". Daily News. August 16, 2010. Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ a b Fong, Petti (May 16, 2012). "Two charged with helping to smuggle migrants to Canada aboard MV Sun Sea". The Star. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  7. ^ "Fact Sheet: MV Sun Sea Migrants". Canada Border Services Agency. August 23, 2010. Archived from the original on May 7, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "Rights advocates decry detention of refugee claimants from MV Sun Sea". Amnesty International Canada. February 10, 2011. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "Migrant ship arrival cost Canada $25M". CBC News. February 9, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  10. ^ Bell, Stewart (June 27, 2012). "Trial of Sun Sea human smuggling suspects to skip preliminary hearing". National Post. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  11. ^ "Canada deported man to torture in Sri Lanka: affidavit". CTV News Vancouver. October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "Bruce McArthur charged with 8th count of first-degree murder". CBC News. April 17, 2018.

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