A Sri Lankan migrant has been accepted as a refugee who was onboard a smuggling ship that Canada has publicly linked to Tamil rebels.
The 24-year-old arrived in Canada in 2009 aboard the MV Ocean Lady, which federal officials have identified as a rebel arms smuggling ship.
Officials have also claimed that a third of the 76 migrants on aboard were Tamil rebels.
But the Immigration and Refugee Board has now turned those statements against the government, ruling that widespread publicity about the ship’s rebel ties had transformed one of the passengers into a refugee.
A government official said the decision was still being reviewed.
The ruling could signal a path for hundreds of other Sri Lankans smuggled to Canada aboard the Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea, which the government had also linked to Tamil rebels.
But as the second anniversary of the Sun Sea’s arrival passed on yesterday, the vast majority had not yet been recognized as refugees.
Only four Ocean Lady migrants had been accepted as refugees, while 15 had been rejected.