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 12 August 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 14/15,[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 10 February 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 18 May 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]

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

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