Men charged with smuggling Lankans go on trial in Canada

In his opening statement, Crown counsel Peter LaPrairie told a 12-member jury that the migrants were charged a fee, generally a $5,000 down payment, to be on the boat, with an additional $25,000 owing when they arrived in Canada, for a total of $30,000. Once they had been transferred to the Lower Mainland, all of the passengers made refugee claims due to violence in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan civil war.The trial is expected to run eight weeks. (Colombo Gazette) “A Sri Lankan national who wishes to enter Canada must have a valid passport and a visa issued by the Canadian government to come to Canada,” LaPrairie said. “None of the 492 persons aboard MV Sun Sea had the required travel documents.” “When the boat set sail for Canada there were 493 persons on-board. One person became ill during the journey and died at sea. His body was buried at sea.”Emmanuel was the captain of the vessel, spending his time on the bridge operating the boat and staying in the crew’s quarters, LaPrairie said.Christhurajah rented apartments for the migrants in Bangkok and supervised the loading of the migrants into vans for the journey to the south of Thailand, LaPrairie said. LaPrairie said that the migrants will testify that after leaving Sri Lanka they ended up in Bangkok, arriving there in the spring of 2010. Some migrants were housed in apartments in the Thai capital after arrangements were made by “agents” they dealt with while awaiting for the journey on the boat, he said.When it was time to board MV Sun Sea, the migrants were transported to the south of Thailand and then put on a fishing vessel and taken out to the cargo ship. Some migrants spent several months on board before the vessel set sail for Canada on July 5, 2010, LaPrairie said. The Crown portrayed some bleak living conditions for the migrants, who included 380 men, 63 women and 49 children aboard the vessel.The vessel, which was intercepted by Canadian authorities on Aug. 12, 2010, was designed to accommodate a maximum of 13 crew and ply coastal waters instead of oceans. The small crew on MV Sun Sea had cabins, a washroom and a kitchen, but the hundreds of male migrants were forced to stay below deck in the cargo hold of the ship, LaPrairie said.“There were no beds. The men slept on the floor. Food was sent below decks and the men were only allowed on deck for certain periods of time. The women and children slept under tarps on the deck of the boat.” Rajaratnam and Mahendran were acting as agents for the migrants and were not aboard MV Sun Sea when it was intercepted by Canadian authorities off the B.C. coast and escorted to CFB Esquimalt, he said. Both Rajaratnam and Mahendran are Canadian citizens. More than six years after a rickety vessel with nearly 500 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard arrived off the coast of Vancouver Island, four men charged with human smuggling saw their trial open Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Times Colonist reported.Lesly Emmanuel, Kunarobinson Christhurajah, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam have pleaded not guilty to the offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. read more

Neknomination highlights need for stricter European control of sites like Facebook

first_imgUpdated 6pm IRISH MEP SEAN Kelly has said he believes the spread of the dangerous neknomination drinking game across social media highlights the need for European legislation to control and monitor websites like Facebook.In an interview with Karen Coleman for EP Radio (listen here), the Fine Gael MEP said that this is “the downside of social media” but he has insisted in a follow-up statement this evening that he is not looking to “police” social media.In his comments to EP Radio, he said “there’s kind of pressure on people across the world to follow suit and to get others to take part in this most dangerous game, as we’ve seen, downing certain quantities of alcohol at a great speed which doesn’t makes sense to anybody but that’s the way it is”.Kelly’s comments follow the death of two young men in Ireland at the weekend – Ross Cummins and Jonny Byrne –  which have both been linked to alcohol. 19-year-old Byrne’s family have pleaded with young people to abandon the game before anyone else gets hurt.The MEP said action is now needed at a European level to address some of the dangerous behaviour taking place online.The people who put up these social media sites I think they have to be monitored more closely, where they are seen to be damaging, or encouraging activities that are detrimental to people’s health and lives they have to be banned initially.“It’s not just Facebook it’s all social media operators and I think we are going through the data protection regulations at the minute, they are almost finalised for this term but definitely.”He commented that “this focuses the need to have stricter controls and stricter monitoring of sites” like Facebook and particularly where they are seen to have a negative effect, that they will have to move immediately to take the content down. He said this could be best achieved with an independent policing body which would order sites to remove dangerous content.‘Not an attempt to police’“There is no benefit whatsoever in this type of game to anybody and as soon as it appeared it should have been taken down and that would put an end to it and I think that’s what’s needed here at legislation level in Europe,” he added.However in a statement to this evening, the former GAA president rejected characterisations of his remarks as “an attempt to police legal, though foolish, internet phenomena such as the practice of ‘neknomination’.”“I believe that there should be strong and clear rules to counteract cyber bullying online, all the while respecting the freedom of the internet,” he said. “We cannot prevent cyber bullying through legal and police methods (we can do this through education and public awareness campaigns, which I have been active in organising), however we can come down strongly on perpetrators once they are identified.”Kelly continued: “The internet is a great, free and open public space.  We have benefitted as a society enormously from this freedom, but those who feel abused should have a legal remedy should they wish abusive comments or images to be removed from the online world.  This is a delicate balance that we need to respect day in, day out.”Since the news of the two deaths at the weekend, a number of spin-off crazes have started – with a difference. People have started posting videos of themselves doing good deeds and nominating friends to do the same. Ógra Fianna Fáil has launched a campaign to get people donating blood instead of filming themselves drinking a pint.A young man who met Ross Cummins on the night he died is also raising money for Alcohol Action Ireland in honour of the 22-year-old DJ, by asking people to donate the price of a pint instead of necking it. He has pledged to stay alcohol-free until he raises €500.- additional reporting Hugh O’Connell First published 6.50am Read: Neknomination ‘just one small aspect’ of Ireland’s harmful drinking culturelast_img read more