News/Canada: Canada, China to discuss battling people-smugglers

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Subject: News/Canada: Canada, China to discuss battling people-smugglers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 08:08:49 EDT


            Canada, China to discuss battling people-smugglers

RTw 4-14-00 7:01 AM

  Reuters Ltd.

     By David Ljunggren
      OTTAWA, April 14 (Reuters) - Canadian Immigration Minister Elinor
Caplan sets off for Australia and China on Saturday for top-level talks on
how to prevent illegal Chinese migrants flocking to Canada.
      Last year some 600 illegal immigrants from Fujian province arrived on
Canada's western coast on rusting, leaky ships and immediately sought
refugee status. Some of them said they had promised the people-smugglers --
known as "snakeheads" -- up to $60,000 each for their passage.
      During Caplan's nine-day stay in China, which starts on April 20, she
will visit Fujian in a bid to persuade people there not to listen to the
promises of the snakeheads.
      "I'll try and get the message to young people in those towns who are
being lied to and cheated by the snakeheads, to let them know the truth,"
Caplan told Reuters.
      "I'll try to let them know what the snakeheads have in store for them,
which is a life of misery and exploitation in sex or drugs trades. It's a
life akin to modern slavery."
      Caplan said she would stress the dangerous conditions on board the
ships and the fact that any illegal immigrant arriving in Canada would be
arrested.
      "It's important for them to hear from me what the truth is," said
Caplan, who has met some of the Chinese migrants who were arrested in
Canada last year. "I feel an obligation to try to warn others not to make
the same mistake."
      Last August she vowed to deport any illegal immigrants whose bid for
refugee status had been rejected but very few have been sent back, partly
because Canadian immigration law allows initial rejections to be appealed.
      Last week, Caplan introduced tough new legislation that aims to speed
up the refugee determination process.
      The Canadian minister will also visit Shanghai and Beijing for talks
on how to tackle people-smuggling with China's foreign and public security
ministers.
      "I think it's a question of reinforcing (existing ties) by meeting and
talking. I think it's really important to establish a good working
co-operative relationship at the highest level," Caplan said.
      "The truth is that I don't know enough about the differences in (the
Chinese) approaches and laws. To go and to see and understand is a very
important part of my responsibilities. It builds a relationship and it
gives you a first-hand knowledge you just can't get out of a book."
      Caplan's first stop will be the Australian capital, Canberra, where
she is due to hold talks with Australian Immigration Minister Philip
Ruddock.
      Over the last few months there has been a dramatic increase in the
number of illegal immigrants -- many from China and the Middle East --
trying to reach Australia.
      Canada, Australia, United States and Britain are currently discussing
what can be done to combat illegal immigration.
      "It's very important we collaborate and co-operate and share
information and develop strategies that will deal with an issue which
cannot be solved by any one country alone. That's the key," Caplan said.
"There must be international solutions to the issues facing us."


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