Aug 14 (NP) A Sri Lankan migrant has been accepted as a refugee on the grounds that, as a passenger on a smuggling ship that Canada has publicly linked to Tamil rebels, he might be tortured or killed in his homeland.
The 24-year-old ethnic Tamil arrived in Canada in 2009 aboard the MV Ocean Lady, which federal officials have identified as a rebel arms smuggling ship. Officials have also claimed a third of the 76 migrants on aboard were Tamil rebels.
But the Immigration and Refugee Board has now turned those statements against the government, ruling that widespread publicity about the ship's rebel ties had made one of the passengers into a refugee.
A government official said the decision was still being reviewed. The ruling could signal a path for the hundreds of other Sri Lankans smuggled to Canada aboard the Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea, which the government had also linked to Tamil rebels.
But as the second anniversary of the Sun Sea's arrival passed on Monday, the vast majority had not yet been recognized as refugees. According to the latest count released by the IRB, only four Ocean Lady migrants had been accepted as refugees, while 15 had been rejected. One other has withdrawn his claim.