Tamil Refugees Face Record Rate of Refoulment From UK, Despite Clear Evidence Of Widespread Torture

Reported by  The Guardian:

“The UK is to go ahead with a mass removal of Tamils to Sri Lanka next week despite mounting evidence from human rights group that many of them could be tortured on their return. At least two and possibly three chartered flights are scheduled to leave the UK from Wednesday carrying an unknown number of Sri Lankan Tamils whose pleas to remain in the UK have been refused. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) refuses to discuss such flights until they have landed”

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and Freedom From Torture have all documented the severe risk of deported Tamils being subject to torture.

People who have returned voluntarily to Sri Lanka are known to have been tortured and abused – both physically and sexually. For an in-depth analysis of this, please see Out Of The Silence, by Freedom From Torture. A briefer statement on deportation was made by Human Rights Watch in May, 2012. They made another request for Britain’s government to cease deportation, on 15th September 2012:

 “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. 

It is illegal for the UK government to continue deporting people when there is a known risk of deportees being subject to torture. It is also highly questionable why, as Human Rights Watch note, the British government condemns Sri Lanka’s use of torture, yet ignores evidence which makes plain the danger to Tamil deportees.