Measures to address Tamil refugee issues recommended
Toronto – As public debate regarding the plight of the 492 Tamil refugee claimants intensifies, B’nai Brith Canada has warned against allowing racism to creep into public discourse on the issue and recommended three proactive solutions.
Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said, “Let us learn from our past. As discussed in our coming National Holocaust Task Force Student Resource on the history of Canadian immigration policy, there have been tragic incidents in Canada’s not-so-distant history, where boatloads of refugees were turned away from our shores due to attitudes laced with racism.
“We should remember the Komagata Maru and the MS St. Louis. In today’s world, there are certainly legitimate concerns that must be addressed such as security threats and the horrors of human smuggling, but right now the refugee determination system can address questions relating to refugees who have already reached Canada.”
David Matas, senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, added, “There are several additional measures that Canada should consider immediately to address the underlying issues: adding Sri Lanka to the source country class so that Sri Lankans could seek the protection of Canada while overseas, pressing the government of Sri Lanka to end human rights violations against its minority population and urging the government of Thailand – from where some of the boat people come – to sign and ratify the UN Refugee Convention.”
“Safeguards come not from shutting the door on human suffering, but from addressing the real issues head-on,” concluded Dimant.