He lives on
a suburban street in Ajax in a two-storey
brick house with a double garage and fruit
trees in the garden.
neighbourhood east of Toronto is worlds away
from the civil war Raja Kasturiarachchi left
behind when he moved to Canada after
retiring from the Sri Lanka Police.
But if he
came to Canada to escape the past, he
hasn't. The Canada Border Services Agency
says it intends to deport Mr.
Kasturiarachchi because he was complicit in
As a former
Sri Lankan police chief, the CBSA says, Mr.
Kasturiarachchi is to blame for "systematic"
and "widespread" abuses committed by the
force "on a regular ongoing basis."
One of several
The case is
one of several that suggest Canada has
adopted a new hardline approach against
those involved in Sri Lanka's bloody civil
war - regardless of which side they were on.
government has long fought to prevent Tamil
Tigers rebels from using Canada as a safe
haven, it is now extending the same
treatment to members of the state security
strives for a fair and consistent
application of the law," said Anna Pape, a
there is evidence of crimes against humanity
must be pursued, no matter the perpetrator."
Those war crimes continue.
Last week, a
bus travelling in territory held by the
Tamil Tigers was ripped apart by a mine,
killing 11 school children. The Tigers
blamed the Sri Lanka Army. On Wednesday, a
female suicide bomber detonated her
explosive-filled bra near a government
minister. He survived. A second rebel bomb
exploded outside a department store in the
capital, Colombo, killing 16 civilians.
Reverberations in Canada
prompted Maxime Bernier, the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, to call on both sides in
the conflict "to respect international human
rights and humanitarian law" and protect
war reverberates in Canada because of the
estimated 200,000 Sri Lankans who have
resettled here since the fighting broke out,
most of them in Toronto.
ethnic Tamils and many are at least
sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers guerrillas
fighting to create an independent state in
Sri Lanka's north and east.
deputy leader of the Tigers was killed last
month, Canadian Tamils (and Liberal members
of parliament) attended a large outdoor
rally in Markham.
events were held around Toronto to mark
Tamil 'Heroes' Day,' which commemorates the
anniversary of the first Tamil Tiger suicide
government has been cracking down on the
Conservatives placed them on Canada's list
of designated terrorist groups last year,
and the RCMP raided their suspected
fundraising fronts and arrested several
Tamils accused of trying to buy weapons for
Review of cases
But a review
of cases that have come before the courts
since last year shows the government has
also been quietly going after members of the
security forces, barring them from entering
Canada, refusing to give them visitor's
visas and even deporting them. Even Sri
Lankan police officers are now considered
they were taking a hard line on the army or
navy," said immigration lawyer Kumar
Sriskanda, who is representing Mr.
Kasturiarachchi. "But in this case, the new
development is they are taking a hard line
on the Sri Lankan police force."
In a similar
case, the CBSA is trying to revoke refugee
status from former Sri Lankan police officer
Indrabalan Ratnasingam, who entered Canada
in 1996, on the grounds he was complicit in
war crimes. The Federal Court ruled against
the man last month.
recent case involves a Sri Lanka Army
officer who was denied entry to Canada
because he was found complicit in "grave"
human rights abuses and the use of torture
as an investigative technique.
Jayasinghe had applied for a visitor's visa
at the Canadian High Commission in Sri
Lanka. His wife had immigrated to Canada and
she was expecting. He wanted to be present
for the birth.
But when the
Canadian immigration officer found out that
Mr. Jayasinghe had served in the army, and
that he had interrogated and killed people
suspected of being Tamil Tiger rebels, she
refused to give him a visa. The shift in
Canada's approach comes as human rights
groups are reporting mounting abuses by the
Sri Lankan security forces, such as
disappearances, torture and the killing of
journalists and foreign aid workers.
Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at
Human Rights Watch, said while his group
condemns the Tamil Tigers, also known as the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE,
it is also troubled by the deteriorating
conduct of the government security forces.
over the past two years is that the
government has stooped to the level of this
very abusive group, meaning the Tigers," he
co-authored a report on human rights in Sri
Lanka issued in August and is preparing to
release another this month on the more than
1,000 disappearances that have occurred in
the country in the past 18 months, mostly in
areas under government control.
Security forces conduct
resident Naithan Vaithilingam says he
experienced the brutal conduct of the
security forces first-hand. He was returning
to his home in the government-controlled
city of Trincomalee in 2005 when he was
stopped at a checkpoint.
A group of
men he believes were Sri Lanka Army
personnel (because they were standing near
an army checkpoint next to an army truck)
asked him his ethnicity. "I told them I am
Tamil," he said.
attacked him with a knife and left him to
die on the road with stab wounds in his
head, leg and hands. His sister arranged to
get him to a hospital in Colombo, where he
spent the next nine months and had three
operations before coming to Canada in June,
MP M.K. Eelaventhan, a member of the Tamil
National Alliance who recently visited
Canada, blamed the security forces for
abductions, killings and disappearances.
"Disappearances are now becoming a normal
feature. I will call it a normality. When a
person disappears and doesn't appear for
three days, you can safely say that he is
among the dead."
police are blamed for some of those abuses.
Chief Inspector Kasturiarachchi spent more
than 25 years in the police force. He moved
to Canada with his family after retiring in
No personal evidence
there was no evidence he had personally
committed war crimes, the CBSA argued he was
nonetheless to blame. As a long-time senior
officer of a police force that engaged in
abuses that were "disproportionate and
routinely committed throughout the country
with impunity" he was found responsible.
of his membership and activity with the
force, he shared in its common purpose or
objectives and was therefore complicit in
the commission of crimes against humanity,"
according to the Federal Court ruling on his
pretty harsh," responded Sriskanda, the
lawyer. "That means any police officer from
Sri Lanka cannot even apply for a visitor's
visa. They are excluded for all purposes
under the Immigration and Refugee Protection
Kasturiarachchi's last hope for remaining in
Canada is a letter that is being sent to
Public Safety Minister Stock-well Day. "As
there is no personal allegation against him,
I think that the Minister will give him an
exception," Sriskanda said.
the CBSA spokeswoman, said the agency
"intends to remove Kasturiarachchi from
Canada based on his complicity in crimes
against humanity committed against a
civilian population in Sri Lanka."
- Stewart Bell