Thursday, July 29, 2010
THE CRIMINAL EXCHANGE
By Hasaka Ratnamalala
The legal struggles of some criminals, who were deported from Canada, are now becoming Trojan horses for so many other criminals to land back in Canada.
Few years ago there were two well known Tamil gangs in Toronto. One was identified as ``VVT`` (Velvetithurai- a Village name in Northern Sri Lanka) and the other was ``AK Kannan``. They were having a territorial drug war between each other for few years. Several shoot outs and few deaths later, both gang leaders and their supporters were arrested in a massive Police raid code named ``project 1050``. Recently a new page in these gangster stories started to dominated the Canadian media.
On June 11th 2010, Jothiravi Sittampalam the alleged leader of “AK Kannan” gang was deported to Sri Lanka by the Canadian border services due to drug trafficking and allegedly leading a criminal gang in Toronto. As soon as he landed in Sri Lanka, authorities arrested him and released him on bail and then arrested again on charges, that he collected money for Tamil Tigers during last days of the conflict. Now, his wife who still living in Toronto has filed a petition in the Canadian courts to reopen his old case, which ordered his deportation six years ago.
She is requesting Canadian immigration to bring Jothiravi Sittampalam back to Canada claiming that the Sri Lankan authorities are abusing his rights and he will be persecuted. Previously Jothiravi’s lawyer Ms. Babra Jackman a well known Canadian immigration lawyer, made sure Canadian justice system prevents his actual deportation for six years on the same ground. But at the end of Sri Lanka’s conflict, Canadian authorities decided to deport Jothiravi Sittampalam.
Before Sittampalam, there were over 100 Canadian Tamil criminals deported to Sri Lanka even during the conflict time. But this is the third time such a huge noise created on the issue on Canadian media. Among the other deportees, Kaileshan Thanabalasingham, (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/4716146ff.pdf) is the alleged VVT gang leader who was the opponent of Jothiravi Sittampalam in their mini drug war in Scarborough, Ontario. He was deported to Sri Lanka in 2006. But later he managed to sneak out of Sri Lanka and today he is living in Australia under different name.
Another such Canadian deportee Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah (http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=2206485 ) re-appeared in an asylum ship to Australia under the name of ``Alex``, he was deported from Canada in 2003 due to his criminal activities. Another gangster, Panchalingham Nagalingham (http://reports.fja.gc.ca/eng/2007/2007fc229/2007fc229.pdf) a member of AK Kannan Group who was deported in 2007 brought back to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2010, on the expense of Canadian Government.
In 2001, LTTE money collector Suresh Manickavasagam managed to block his deportation, just hours before his deportation to Sri Lanka. In his landmark Canadian case Suresh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration),  1 S.C.R. 3 the supreme court of Canada held that, Suresh made a prima facie case that he would be subject to torture upon being returned to Sri Lanka and he will be denied the procedural fairness owed to him by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Since then all the LTTE criminals awaiting deportation used this judgment to avoid their deportation.The procedural fairness identified here is equal to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, at the Suresh’s hearing Canadian Supreme Court never gets the chance to hear the procedural avenues available in the Sri Lankan justice system for a suspect but what the court got was, then Manickavasagam’s lawyer Ms. Babra Jackman’s interpretation on Sri Lankan justice system. Is that a correct version of Sri Lankan’s legal system? Reality is far different from Ms. Barbara’s interpretation.
If a well known criminal entered to a country especially under a deportation order of another country, he will not get all the comfort in the world; as the authorities have to make sure that the incoming criminal does not restart his criminal enterprise in the home country. It is one of the responsibilities of the governments to make sure the safety and security of the citizens in the country. Therefore it is not correct to call such procedure a persecution.
Even under section 7 of the Canadian Charter Rights and freedom the government could deprive of someone’s life, liberty and security in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. In the same way there are enough procedural solutions available in the Sri Lankan justice system to go through if someone is arrested or deprived of their liberty. In Sittampalam`s case his relatives have the right to go through Sri Lankan justice system and ask for suitable relief from a Sri Lankan court. Instead, they chose to bash Sri Lankan justice system.
Danger is if Sittampalam`s case would have been successful, Canadian government may have to bring back most of the deported criminals from all around the world. This will put the Canadian government in a real jeopardy.