Feds Urged To Halt Deportations To Sri Lanka

Feds Urged To Halt Deportations To Sri Lanka

Elizabeth Thompson
Edmonton Sun
Sun Media
March 4, 2009

OTTAWA — Parliament's immigration committee is calling on the government to halt deportations to Sri Lanka and speed up the handling of sponsorship applications, saying the country is just too dangerous to send people back.

“Turmoil in Sri Lanka is accelerating,” said Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis who proposed the motion. “Family class sponsorships are taking a long time, particularly in the area in the danger zone. I've got cases in my office that are taking two and three years.”

Conservative MPs opposed the motion, however, saying allowing some people to remain in Canada could pose a danger to Sri Lankan Canadians and it could be years before Sri Lanka is totally safe.

The motion comes as the conflict in Sri Lanka between Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan army continues to take a heavy toll.

Canada's department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade recommends Canadians avoid non-essential travel to Sri Lanka and against all travel to several areas in the east and north of the country.

Despite the violence, however, Sri Lanka is not on the list of eight countries that Canada has temporarily suspended removals to because it could endanger the lives of those who are deported. Those countries are: Afghanistan, Burundi, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

In 2008, Canada deported 61 people back to Sri Lanka, compared to 50 in 2007 and 78 in 2006.

Tracie LeBlanc, spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said the agency has the legal obligation to remove people not entitled to remain in Canada but each person is dealt with on a case by case basis and pre-removal risk assessments are done to determine whether someone's life would be in danger if they are returned to their home country.