OTTAWA, March 29, 2012 /CNW/ - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commends the efforts early this week to find, rescue and bring passengers on board the ill-fated SV Tabasco 2 ashore.
"The rescue operation, in the Atlantic Ocean, ensures that the age-old maritime tradition of rescuing people in peril on the high seas is preserved," said Mr. Furio De Angelis, UNHCR Representative in Canada.
"We commend the Canadian government for its commitment to international obligations and for providing survivors with the necessary medical care."
UNHCR regrets the loss of life that has resulted in this tragedy from this perilous voyage, reportedly having led to one man dead and 3 missing persons evident from the initial available details.
Although more details on this tragic incident are still awaited, issues surrounding arrivals by sea, rescue at sea and human smuggling have re-emerged as an important but difficult debate in Canada.
UNHCR supports the important work of law enforcement agencies the world over in combating human smuggling. UNHCR encourages that any measures by States to combat smuggling or trafficking in persons do not undermine the international refugee protection regime. UNHCR counts on the co-operation of States to ensure access to fair and efficient procedures for those who claim asylum.
Canada has traditionally demonstrated a strong commitment to the protection of refugees and UNHCR will continue to collaborate with the government on its compliance with the relevant provisions for treatment of persons seeking asylum and refugee status.
Aiding those in peril at sea is one of the oldest of maritime obligations. The legal framework governing rescue-at-sea and the treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees rests on the applicable provisions of international maritime law, in interaction with international refugee law and aspects of international human rights law. UNHCR places emphasis on safety aspects, providing technical advice and assistance to states to ensure that they respect their obligations.
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