Sun Oct 18, 11:33 pm ET
VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) – The Canadian Tamil Congress said its lawyers will represent dozens of illegal migrants arrested on a ship seized off Canada's West Coast.
Detention hearings will begin early this week for as many as 76 migrants from a freighter seized Friday by Canadian military, police and other agencies.
The migrants were transported Sunday to a jail in Vancouver "where the Canadian Border Services Agency will continue to examine their admissibility to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act," agency official Rob Johnston said Sunday in a statement.
Johnston was tight-lipped about whether the migrants are Sri Lankan.
"The number of individuals being detained, their ages or their origin cannot be confirmed," he said.
Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said in Ottawa Saturday the ship may have come from Sri Lanka, but added that had not been confirmed.
A spokesperson with the Canadian Tamil Congress said the organization, which represents 500,000 Tamils living in Canada, has had no confirmation but suspects the migrants are Tamils fleeing strife in Sri Lanka.
"We have not been able to get in touch with anyone," Sue Nathan told AFP Sunday.
But Nathan said the Congress is flying lawyers from Toronto to Vancouver to represent the migrants.