Breach

Personal data on Tamil refugees exposed

October 8, 2010
A computer containing the names of Tamil refugees has been stolen from the offices of the Canadian Tamil Congress.

The computer was reported missing on Sept. 13. It contained the names of some of the 492 Tamil refugees who arrived in Vancouver aboard the MV Sun Sea in mid-August.

The computer was originally thought to have contained the names of hundreds of those refugees, along with other sensitive data, such as their birth certificates, names and contact information.

Management at the Congress later revised their claims, saying that only ‘dozens' of names had been on the machine, and that all of the information on the PC had been encrypted.

However, Congress spokesperson David Poopalapillai said that the Congress was still taking the issue seriously. He blamed the theft either on hate criminals, or on the Sri Lankan government.

“Someone clearly doesn't want us [to do] what we are doing and they are sending a very strong message...you know, 'We are after you',” he said.

The Tamil refugees were fleeing the Sri Lankan government, which in May 2009 claimed victory in a 25-year war against the rebel Tigers of Tamil group.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees praised the Canadian government for its reception of the Tamils. The UN recently revised its guidelines on the processing of refugee claims for Tamils following improved security conditions in Sri Lanka. Refugee claims should now be individually considered on their own merits, it has said.