Re: Minister Kenney addresses human smuggling in Sri Lanka
Posted on January 13th, 2013

Mahinda Gunasekera, Canada

Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP
Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa

Honourable Minister Jason Kenney,

Thank you for your communication conveying the message given by you during your visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka, outlining the special legislative measures introduced to discourage persons from seeking to enter Canada through illegitimate means such as use of professional human smugglers to attempt to reach this country secretively in a vessel which is often deemed to be not seaworthy.  You have rightly pointed out the life threatening risks of such a sea journey incurring one’s life savings or committing to pay the smuggler a large sum of money on arrival in Canada by labouring a whole life time to pay such debts, provided you are accepted after investigation and granted refugee status subject to a judicial inquiry by a special tribunal.  Even if granted asylum after the detention period and completion of all investigations, one would naturally suffer the consequences of having failed to comply with Canada’s immigration rules and entering the country illegally. 

I am glad that you outlined the new measures introduced to deal with those who engage in human smuggling operations where they could be imprisoned for a minimum period of ten years if convicted, which hopefully will act as a deterrent.  Whilst the new measures cover the actions of the irregular arrivals and those who organize the smuggling operations, specific penalties should be introduced to deal with any persons within the country who are cooperating with the smugglers for any political or other purpose such as deprivation of citizenship and deportation from Canada.  

In the case of Sri Lankan Tamils who arrived in 2009 and 2010 aboard the ‘Ocean King’ and the mv ‘Sun Sea’, it has since been established that the illegal voyages were organized by members of the Tamil diaspora directly aligned with the aims and objectives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), aka Tamil Tigers, who for the last three plus decades sought to carve out a separate mono-ethnic racist Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka by force of arms.  Similar groups still continue to function in Canada using the democratic rights and freedoms available to law abiding Canadians to raise funds for the same separatist cause in the guise of human rights activists.

You have referred to the conflict in Sri Lanka as a civil war which is incorrect as there was no neighbour fighting neighbour based on ethnic, linguistic or religious differences.  It was strictly a military action taken against the heavily armed Tamil Tiger terrorists who evaded a negotiated settlement for two decades, and having usurped nearly 20,000 square kilometers  of Sri Lanka’s sovereign territory in the Vanni region and parts of the east launched their so called final war of liberation in December 2005 to establish a separate state called “Eelam”, thereby thrusting a war on  the Sri Lankan authorities.  Tamil demands had been effectively met in accordance with the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 enhancing the status of Tamil from that of a National Language with an array of rights far exceeding that enjoyed by French in Canada to that of an Official Language on par with the Sinhala Language spoken by over 75% of the indigenous majority of Sinhalese, and establishment of
semi-autonomous Provincial Councils including in Tamil majority areas of the north and east.   

You had also commented on allegations of human rights violations in the military action taken against the terrorist forces of the LTTE and a lack of meaningful post-war reconciliation.  The allegations of human rights violations were reported by the UN Secretary General’s Pane of Experts on Sri Lanka, the ICG, HRW, Amnesty, etc., all of whom based their conclusions on one sided hearsay evidence presented by members of the Tamil diaspora that supported the military aims of the Tamil Tigers and other supporters of the LTTE who were canvassed by members of the diaspora, which are none but prejudiced sources.  In fact the UNSG’s Panel stated in their report that their findings have not been proven as it falls short of the threshold required to establish proof, and furthermore recommended that the material examined by them be locked away for a period of 20 years.  These allegations which the Panel considered as being of a credible nature are in essence generalized allegations without specific details which would assist in investigating same and establishing culpability, and even the material they examined have been sealed for the next twenty years.  Sri Lanka on her own in terms of the domestic inquiries conducted by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, has undertaken to investigate the conduct of the military action by her armed forces and take action against any errant personnel in the event evidence is forthcoming to maintain such charges in a court of law. 

As regards reconciliation, much has been achieved in the short space of three years following the defeat of the Tamil Tiger terrorists where the Sri Lankan authorities provided every necessary care in respect of the nearly 300,000 rescued Tamil civilians who were compelled to accompany the retreating Tamil Tiger fighters from the west coast to the northeast coast over a period of 30 months to be exploited for their forced labour, conscripted after minimum training to replace fallen cadres, and finally to form a human shield for the depleted LTTE.  The LTTE also removed the roofing sheets and doors of the humble homes of the Tamil civilians as they retreated eastward causing their eventual destruction, and laid over a million landmines, IEDs, and explosives laden booby traps in the abandoned villages to harm the advancing Sri Lankan armed forces.  All of the displaced Tamil civilians were re-settled by November 2012 in their former places of residence after the land was demined, infrastructure put in place, homes renovated, repaired or rebuilt, and both financial and other assistance provided to enable them to resume their farming and fishing livelihoods. There has been a 27% growth in the northern economy as compared to a 7.5% growth in the rest of the island in 2010 and 2011. Over 10,000 of the surrendered ex-Tiger cadres have been given vocational training and released to society with new skills to start gainful employment, leaving a balance of around 200 hardcore tiger cadres to be brought to trial in respect of serious crimes committed previously.  The 700 child soldiers too have been rehabilitated and released to their parents to resume their education which had been disrupted owing to their having been abducted and conscripted by the LTTE.  Members of the Tamil community live side by side in peace and friendship with members of the other ethnic communities throughout the island except in the northern province which is predominantly Tamil following the ethnic cleansing and forced evacuation carried out by the LTTE of the smaller Sinhalese and Muslim communities that resided there.  There is no doubt that further healing and reconciliation will take place with the free movement of people following the defeat of the Tamil Tigers and the uprooting of the iron curtain that they maintained.  Reconciliation is a two way approach and cannot be forced or brought about by laws, but has to evolve through trust and cooperation as the fruits of peace and development are shared by the people of the constituent communities.   Although more could be done, Sri Lanka must be given credit for what she has achieved in such a short space of time compared to other countries in similar situations.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Agincourt, Canada
   On 1/9/2013 2:50 PM, [email protected] wrote:

Friends,

 I recently spoke in Colombo, Sri Lanka, about the scourge of human smuggling, the dangers it poses, and the improved tools law enforcement officials in Canada now have to prosecute individuals involved in and profiting from human smuggling crimes.

 Here is a link to the video and the text of my speech: http://www.jasonkenney.ca/news/minister-kenney-speaks-about-smuggling-in-colombo-sri-lanka/

 As always, please feel free to share this e-mail with friends and family. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.

 Sincerely,

 

Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP

Calgary Southeast

www.JasonKenney.ca

 

Migrants Being Defrauded by Human Smuggling Criminals

 Colombo, Sri Lanka, January 7, 2013 “”‚ Anyone relying on human smugglers to try to get into Canada is just “throwing their life savings away,”Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said today.

 “We are sending a strong message to those who are thinking of using the services of criminal human smugglers to sneak into Canada: Don’t do it. They’ll just take your money but leave you stranded,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada has a generous and open legal immigration system, but those who try to get into Canada through the back door using human smugglers will not succeed and are wasting their money trying.”

 Thanks to very alert policing and intelligence action, recent human smuggling operations were shut down before they could leave port.

 Other operations that planned to smuggle Sri Lankans to Canada from Thailand and Indonesia have also been disrupted in the past two years. To support ongoing efforts, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $12 million in funding in March 2012 to help fight human smuggling, including support for projects in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

 Canadian law enforcement agencies continue to work with their counterparts abroad to identify and prevent human smuggling operations that are targeting Canada.  Canada boosted its international efforts to prevent human smuggling after the arrival of two smuggling ships in 2009 and 2010. Since then, no planned smuggling voyages have succeeded in getting to Canada.

 Under the new Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which became law in June 2012, law enforcement officials now have better tools to prosecute individuals who organize, engage in, and profit from human smuggling. The Act includes new mandatory minimum penalties, up to a minimum of ten years imprisonment for those convicted of human smuggling.

 The Act also introduced mandatory detention of those individuals who arrive as part of a designated human smuggling operation, so that we can be sure we know who they are and that they do not pose a security threat before they are released.  And those who arrive as part of a designated irregular arrival are now barred from applying for permanent resident status for five years. This means that they will be unable to sponsor family members to come to Canada during that period.

 “We will continue to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s generous immigration system, which admits more immigrants per capita than any other country in the  world, for those who come to Canada lawfully, including all legitimate refugees,” said Minister Kenney. “We will continue to work to make sure that human smugglers are put out of business.”

 Canada continues to have one of the most generous resettlement programs in the world, welcoming approximately one in 10 refugees resettled worldwide through its programs.  By 2013, Canada will annually resettle up to 14,500 refugees and other individuals in vulnerable circumstances.

 While in Sri Lanka, the Minister also met with officials to reiterate Canada’s concerns about the lack of meaningful post-civil war reconciliation.

 “Canada again calls on the government of Sri Lanka to live up to the standard of membership in the Commonwealth and show tangible progress on a process of national political reconciliation and to seriously address allegations of human rights violations by both sides during the civil war,” said Minister Kenney. “Our Government will continue to stand up against human rights abuses abroad, including with commonwealth member countries.”

 http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/releases/2013/2013-01-06.asp

 

 

 

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