Canada’s highest court will hear three appeals in cases where people were denied refugee status because they were allegedly involved in people smuggling.
Two of the cases involve an individual and a couple who were aboard the MV Sun Sea, which carried 492 Sri Lankan nationals to Canada in 2010.
The arrival of this ship and another in October 2009 with 76 people on board prompted the Canadian government to pass a tough law to discourage the arrival of what it called illegal immigrants.
“Human-smuggling law” contested
The so-called human smuggling law states: “No person shall knowingly organize, induce, aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons who are not in possession of a visa, passport or other document by this Act.”
Civil liberties organizations and the Canadian Council for Refugees have argued that most refugees must depend on other people “aiding and abetting” them in escaping persecution. The council argues their actions to protect refugees must not be defined as criminal, “on the contrary they are honourable actions to defend human rights, actions of which they can be proud.”