In The News

Stowaways reach Halifax in ship containers

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2001 | 5:04 AM ET

Despite a heightened state of alert at Canada’s borders, stowaways are still managing to beat security at the Port of Halifax.

Four eastern European men arrived on two ocean-going cargo ships last weekend.

The latest stowaways all arrived safely, and were able to leave the containers.

Two Albanians gave themselves up to the ship’s crew. Two Romanians walked away from the port, but later turned themselves in to police.

Immigration and local police have not released many details of the new arrivals or how they got to Halifax.

It’s believed at least two other stowaways, still at large, arrived in Halifax last week.

That’s when a crane operator at the port noticed a shipping container with a hole cut out. Inside, immigration officers found water bottles, clothing, and two knapsacks.

The ship had arrived directly from Livorno, Italy.

Police and immigration authorities do not believe the recent stowaways are linked in any way to terrorist activities. About 30 people a year manage to reach Halifax in containers on cargo ships.

1 of 7 Halifax stowaways requests refugee status

Last Updated: Friday, April 24, 2009 | 5:35 PM AT Comments136Recommend41

One of the seven stowaways found on a container ship that docked in Halifax Harbour Thursday has requested refugee status, a border services official said Friday.

The men were found aboard the Atlantic Concert and taken into custody by agents with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on Thursday night.

They are still undergoing interrogation at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, said Mandy Beldock, chief of marine operations with the CBSA.

A decision on whether the other men will be allowed to file refugee claims must be made within 48 hours of their detention.

Beldock said the identities of the men need to be confirmed before they are able to make a rough refugee claim. None of the men have identification on them, she adds.

If the men are rejected as refugee claimants, their transport out of Canada will be arranged.

The men, who appear mainly to be in their 20s, are from North Africa, Beldock confirmed.

Citing confidentiality provisions under the Privacy Act, Beldock was unable to release any information about the stowaways’ names or ages.

She said they are being “very co-operative,” are healthy and do not pose a threat to Canadian security.

Lawyer on hand for stowaways

Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said he is standing by in case the stowaways need help.

He said they would not be able to have access to lawyers during interrogation.

“The concern that creates is that there is a very real possibility that Canadian border services people will interview these stowaways and determine that they are not worthy of making refugee claims, when in fact they are worthy,” said Cohen.

If they are deemed “unworthy” they will be sent back to their home country, without a chance to speak to a Canadian lawyer, said Cohen.

Beldock said the men are able to speak with a lawyer during the 48-hour detention.

“They have that opportunity,” she said, although she is not aware that any of the men have done so.

“As soon as a person is arrested and detained, they are given their rights to counsel and convention rights as well under treaty,” Beldock added.

But Cohen said that often, people such as the stowaways who are coming into Canada have no insight into Canadian law.

“[They] have no idea that certain things need to be said or certain things need not be said in order to get access to the refugee process that they almost certainly have come to Canada to engage in,” he said.

Cohen has applied to the CBSA to represent the men.

The prevention of “irregular migration,” such as that of stowaways, is one of CBSA’s “top priorities in the management of Canada’s borders” said agency spokeswoman Jennifer Morrison.

Morrison also said “searching vessels is a regular part of the agency’s daily operations.”

Halifax stowaways to remain in custody

Bal Brach, Canwest News Service

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Four stowaways from a ship docked at Halifax Port who were arrested Sunday after trying to board a Montreal bound train will remain in custody, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

The decision was handed down Tuesday after the men faced a hearing in front of the Immigration Refugee Board of Canada.

Although officials would not discuss details of the ruling, CBSA spokeswoman Jennifer Morrison said there are a number of reasons why a person would need to be detained.

“There have to be reasonable grounds to believe the person will not appear for an immigration hearing . . . they may pose a threat or risk to the public or they may not have proper identification,” she said.

The four men were arrested Sunday after trying to purchase Via Rail tickets with foreign currency.

The men range in age from their early 20s to mid 30s. Their nationalities are unknown.

The men are apparently stowaways who arrived in shipping containers at Halifax port during the weekend.

Reports the men have claimed refugee status were not confirmed or denied by CBSA or the IRB.

“Normally if a person claims refugee status everything regarding the case is private,” said IRB spokesman Stephane Malepart.

When asked if that meant the detainees were claiming refugee status, Malepart said “this can be one of the reasons.”

If the four men are claiming refugee status, the process could take up to 14 months, according to Malepart.

“Their claims would be processed as any other claim,” he said.

There is also a chance the board may not even hear the case.

“If CBSA has security concerns or something like that . . . they just won’t refer the claim to us.”

In 2007 the IRB received more than 27,000 refugee claims. Of those, nearly half were processed but only about 43 per cent were approved.

Woman who sought domestic abuse refugee status gets deportation reprieve

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 3:37 PM AT Comments21Recommend14

A former P.E.I. resident who was scheduled to be deported back to the Netherlands on Monday may stay in Canada until her application for permanent residency is decided.

Lilian Ralph fled the Island to a women’s shelter in Halifax with her two children after she told police in 2005 her ex-husband Edward Goudsblom was in possession of illegal weapons. Ralph said she put up with years of physical abuse both before and after moving to the Island in 2004.

Goudsblom has since moved back to Europe, and fears for her life if she is returned there.

“Lilian’s ex-husband has made it quite clear to Canadian police authorities that because Lilian reported him to police he is quite dedicated to killing her and the children,” Lee Cohen, Ralph’s lawyer, told CBC News Monday.

Goudsblom was found guilty in P.E.I. provincial court of possession of two illegal weapons — a blowgun and a modified crossbow — and unsafe storage of a firearm. He was fined $400 on each count.

Applied for permanent residency after remarriage

Ralph applied to stay in Canada as a domestic abuse refugee, but last fall, immigration authorities denied her claim and she was ordered to leave the country.

She has since remarried and applied to become a permanent Canadian resident. Cohen had argued that while the process was underway she shouldn’t be deported. On Friday, just days before she was scheduled to be removed, Ralph learned she can stay in Canada while her application for permanent residency status is decided.

“She was extremely anxious, very, very frightened about the prospect of going back,” said Cohen.

“When she was advised that the removal had been delayed or adjourned for eight weeks, it’s pretty well impossible to describe the level of relief she exhibited. She was extremely thankful.”

The application process should be completed within six to eight weeks.

Woman says death likely if she and kids deported

Updated Thu. May. 21 2009 9:44 AM ET News Staff

A Dutch woman facing deportation in Halifax says her ex-husband will kill her and her children if she’s sent back to the Netherlands.

Lillian Ralph says Canadian officials want to deport her family next Monday, even though a decision on her application for permanent residency is expected soon.

She’s asked Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to review her file.

“I certainly hope that the minister will basically review his decision and allow us to stay until the permanent residency is decided because they’re definitely putting ourselves and the children in great risk,” Ralph told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.

Ralph, who first came to Canada in 2000 and has married a Canadian, said her ex-husband has “put a number on our heads.”

“Literally, he has threatened to kill us many, many times,” she said.

“He has explained how he would do it, where he would put our bodies… he will definitely go after us.”

The 39-year-old said she has also provided police with information about the weapons her ex-husband has allegedly smuggled and sold.

“The names that I have given out, they’re literally going to be waiting for me as soon as I arrive in the Netherlands,” she said.

Ralph said her two young children are having nightmares about being sent back to the Netherlands.

“They don’t understand why the government of Nova Scotia protected them so well and they helped them so much in any possible way to get back on their feet and now basically they turned around and sent them back right where they came from,” she said.

Ralph said she’s expecting to hear a decision on her permanent residency application within 90 days.

“We have a very, very good chance of basically being accepted,” she said.

She said authorities in the Netherlands will not be able to protect her since they always wait for something to happen before stepping in to help.