Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 12:36 UK

Canada checks boat migrants' case

Suspected illegal migrants stand on the Ocean Lady
The migrants' ship was intercepted by the Canadian navy on Friday

Canadian immigration officials are examining the status of 76 suspected illegal migrants whose ship was seized off Canada's Pacific coast.

Hearings to assess their admissibility to Canada are set to begin early this week, officials said.

The 76 young men, thought to be Tamils from Sri Lanka, are being held at a detention centre near Vancouver.

It is the first case of suspected people smuggling off Canada's Pacific coast for a decade.

They were on a freighter, the Ocean Lady, intercepted by a Canadian navy frigate on Friday and taken to a dock on Vancouver Island.


The men were transported to the mainland on Sunday.

Officials from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are continuing to carry out health and immigration checks.

"The CBSA is exercising due diligence in the screening of all the individuals for both security and criminal threats," spokesman Rob Johnston said in a statement.

Those on board the ship were pictured wearing civilian clothes. Some were shirtless.

"The signs do point toward human smuggling," said the public safety minister, Peter Van Loan, on Saturday.

Their nationality has still to be established, but Tamil advocacy groups said they believed the men were from Sri Lanka.

Canada has one of the largest expatriate Tamil communities in the world, numbering around 300,000.

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Canadians intercept migrant ship
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National Post CANADA TIPPED OFF TO SHIP - 4 hrs ago
France24 Hearings begin for migrants arrested off Canada - 5 hrs ago
CBC RCMP works with Sri Lanka to ID Tamil migrants - 13 hrs ago Men aboard migrant ship may get hearing today - 21 hrs ago
China Post Tamil Canadians offer seized migrants legal help - 32 hrs ago

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