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Female migrant ordered to remain in detention in B.C.

Police and military are seen wearing surgical masks as they board the MV Sun Sea after it was escorted into CFB Esquimalt in Colwood, B.C.,Friday, Aug. 13, 2010.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A woman accused of wearing a necklace allegedly linked to the Tamil Tigers will remain in detention for at least another month.

The Immigration and Refugee Board announced Tuesday that the woman - who can't be named because of a publication ban -must be jailed while the Canada Border Services Agency continues its investigation.

The woman and her children were among 492 Sri Lankan Tamils to arrive in B.C. on the MV Sun Sea last August. She is the last mother to remain in custody.

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Douglas Cannon, the woman's lawyer, argued that CBSA had provided no evidence to suggest his client was a security risk who should remain behind bars. CBSA countered that there is reasonable suspicion the woman was a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist organization banned in Canada.

Lynda Mackie, the board's adjudicator, ruled in the government's favour. She said she was satisfied CBSA's suspicion was supported by objectively ascertaining the facts and confident the agency was taking the necessary steps to investigate the woman's case.

CBSA said the woman possessed a necklace with a pendant - called a thali - believed to be only given to Tamil Tigers. The agency said it has obtained an expert to analyze the necklace, but it will be at least two months until a report is filed. The expert is in Afghanistan and not immediately reachable.

Ms. Mackie conceded progress in the woman's case has been slow: The government first mentioned having the thali analyzed late last year.

"One can only speculate why it would take so long, as no information was provided in that regard. But I would conjecture that perhaps there were other experts in Tamil cultural traditions available to express an opinion within a shorter time frame. And I expect the minister [of Public Safety's]officials to investigate this possibility."

Mr. Cannon said he was not surprised by the decision, though he questioned why his client needed to remain locked up for the investigation to move forward.

"There's been no evidence whatsoever that she is a flight risk, that she's dangerous, that she's unco-operative. All she's being detained for right now is because the minister has a suspicion that she might be inadmissible."

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The woman's next detention review was scheduled for April 14. She did not participate in Tuesday's hearing.

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