ISSN 2330-717X

Call For United Kingdom To Halt Deportation Flight To Sri Lanka

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The United Kingdom should immediately suspend deportations to Sri Lanka of ethnic Tamils with real or imputed links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or who have engaged in activities the Sri Lankan authorities might view as anti-government, Human Rights Watch said today. The next scheduled deportation of Tamils from the United Kingdom to Sri Lanka is due to take place on September 19, 2012.

Investigations by Human Rights Watch have found that some rejected Tamil asylum seekers from the United Kingdom and other countries have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture or other ill-treatment upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. Human Rights Watch today issued a document it sent on August 1 to the UK immigration minister detailing 13 cases of alleged torture of failed Tamil asylum seekers on return to Sri Lanka. All of these cases are supported by medical documentation.

“In its haste to be tough on failed asylum seekers, the British government is turning a blind eye to compelling evidence that Tamils deported to Sri Lanka risk torture on arrival,” said David Mepham, London director. “Given the serious risk of torture that Tamils returned from the UK may face, the British government should immediately impose a moratorium on returns pending a thorough review of relevant UK policy and the introduction of new risk assessment guidelines.”

The Sri Lankan security forces have long used torture against people deemed to be linked to the LTTE, and growing evidence indicates that Tamils who have been politically active abroad in peaceful opposition to the government may be subject to torture and other ill-treatment.

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

In one case, a 32-year-old Tamil man from Jaffna was among 24 Tamils deported to Sri Lanka by the UK Border Agency on June 16, 2011, after his asylum claim was rejected. On return, he was questioned at the airport outside Colombo and subsequently picked up at the Omanthai checkpoint in northern Sri Lanka. The security forces then took him to police headquarters in Colombo, where he was interrogated about his activities in London and severely tortured. He told Human Rights Watch he was whipped with electric wires and suspended upside down and beaten with sand-filled plastic pipes and forced to sign a confession in Sinhala, a language he did not understand.

In another case, a Tamil woman whose asylum claim had been rejected in the UK returned to Sri Lanka in May 2009. She said she was detained, questioned, and subjected to torture including sexual abuse by security agents, and imprisoned for five months at an army camp. She told Human Rights Watch that officials accused her of being a fundraiser for the LTTE in the UK and showed her video clips of her holding a banner critical of the Sri Lankan government in a public demonstration.

One Tamil man who returned from the UK in 2005 made another attempt at fleeing Sri Lanka in 2008 and was returned to the country in January 2010. He told Human Rights Watch about his torture at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department in Colombo and at an army camp in Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka where he was subsequently transferred. “I was hung upside down and beaten with truncheons and hot metal rods. I was stripped naked in both detention sites. I was sexually abused on two or three occasions in Vavuniya. The perpetrators were uniformed army personnel.”

The UK Border Agency’s Operational Guidance Note on Sri Lanka sets out its policy on deportations to Sri Lanka. Its update from April 2012 acknowledges reports of torture as a widespread practice in Sri Lanka, but omits guidance on the risk of torture based on perceived or actual participation in demonstrations and other anti-government political activity abroad.

The United Kingdom is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which states in article 3 that no state “shall expel, return (‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” In making such determinations, the authorities “shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant, or mass violations of human rights.”

“The UK government has not explained why it condemns Sri Lanka’s use of torture but rejects evidence before the UK Border Agency that demonstrates the danger of torture to Tamil deportees,” Mepham said. “It is time for a serious rethink so that what the UK says in its foreign policy is reflected in how it acts in its immigration policy.”


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8 thoughts on “Call For United Kingdom To Halt Deportation Flight To Sri Lanka

  • Avatar
    September 16, 2012 at 8:20 am
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    Sri Lanka doesen’t care whether they are deported or not. If they do then the SL govt. will say that things are safe. If they don’t Tamils will continue to send £££ to their relative back in Sri Lanka. Either way it’s a win win situation for Sri Lanka. The home office knows that. It’s their problem.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      September 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm
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      Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid regime and it must be isolated by global nations that respect human rights, democracy, freedom, transparency, International Law, Rule of Law, and Equality.

      This regime is worse than the former White Apartheid South African regime and even sports, business and other contacts must be severed by other nations.

      Britain is responsible for the Tamils sufferings in Eelam as they have handed over the power to a mockery parliament that is controlled by the majority Sinhala who are ruthless, criminal minded, do not understand pluralism, Equality, Freedom and human rights.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        September 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm
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        Shiva,
        LOL what else do you want the British government to do? feed you thosai and saambarr? You can wish but you will get nothing because the UK government dont take folks like you who burden and defraud the system seriously. Tamils are a huge nuisance in every part of the world and the UK government is absolutely corect in sending you guys back. In fact you should not have been allowed at the first place.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    September 16, 2012 at 10:49 am
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    BEFORE JUMPING UP AND DOWN SEE http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=54899

    AND “Deported from Britain: back to ‘duress’ or ordinariness in Sri Lanka?” AT http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/deported-from-britain-back-to-duress-or-ordinariness-in-sri-lanka/
    MEPHAM and READERS HAVE TO ASK THEMSELVES WHETHER THE DEPORTEE WHO CLAIMS HE WAS TORTURED IS THE SAME FELLOW WHO APEARS AS “HARI” AND “SUTHAN” IN HUMAN RIGHTS CIRCLES? …A PERSON WHO ADMITSTO HAVING mutilated himself while in a state of depression! SOME CARE AND SCEPTICISMHAS TO BE USED IN EVALUATING CLAIMS ESPECIALLY WHEN A FELLOW HAS SHOWN A CAPACITY (NAMELY MONETARY RESOURCES AND GOOD CONNECITONS)TO TRANSPAORT THEMSELVES BACK TO BRITIAN JUST LIKE THAT.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm
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    Following up on Shandy’s comment, it has been reported that the U.K. has been generally refusing to issue visas to people coming to the U.K. that they think are coming to work in the U.K., and presumably take jobs from U.K. citizens. If this is so, they would seem also to be deporting the Tamils for same economic reasons, notwithstanding the clear risk of torture to the deportees.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm
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    UK, Australia, Canada and EU should take strong action and deport those who sought asylum in those countries and visit Sri Lanka for holiday and frequently after their asylum application is accepted.

    Even Citizenship should be removed for the above and deported back to Sri Lanka as these guys are more of economic refugees and not sought asylum on genuine grounds.

    Innocent applicants should not be deported back to Sri Lanka and every application must be reviewed carefully before an action is taken as Tamils continue to experience politically and racially motivated attacks, rape, abduction, illegal detention and murder.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm
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    Tamil groups who were able to come to weastern countries will use whatever it takes to continue to stay there, for pure economic reasons once asylum applications are rejected.

    It will be intersting to see the extent of funding by these groups to various NGO’s in the west flying the so called ‘human rights & torture flag’.

    As Shandy has rightly said it is problem for the Home Office and UK. If they are deported to SL, rightly the SL govt has to keep a tab on any major LTTE players (for SL security) as the UK and West rightly keeps a tab on possible ‘terrorrism’ linked persons in their countries.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 18, 2012 at 11:15 am
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    The writer is not sane in his head.If the Human Right Watch wants UK to hold this decision better they also go to a mental hospital.Pro-LTTE elements and their Dollar goons import these Tamils not only from Sri-Lanka, but also from Tamil Nadu and carrying on illegal Human smuggling.You all go to Sri Lanka and see the reality yourself.And also see yourself how happy the so called Tamils.

    Reply

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