Re-examine claimed safety of refugee returnees, AI appeals to Australia

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 September 2010, 16:35 GMT]
“The Australian government must re-examine its claims that asylum seekers returned to countries they are fleeing from are not subjected to torture and mistreatment,” Madhu Malhorta, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia said in an appeal to Sri Lanka government Friday calling on it to ensure the safety of three men who have been tortured and jailed following their forced return from Australia where they had sought asylum in 2009. Three Sinhala men, two of them brothers, seeking asylum in Austarlia had been forcibly sent back to Sri Lanka by the Australian government.

“This is an appalling situation that calls into question the actions of both the Sri Lankan and Australian governments,” Madhu Malhotra said.

“Both governments are culpable in the forced return and mistreatment these men have endured, and both must bear responsibility for the results of their policies and procedures,” he added.

Brothers Sumith Mendis and Indika Mendis were detained in 2009 in Christmas Island on seeking asylum after their boat was intercepted and found to be carrying Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

Deported to Sri Lanka they were arrested and handed over to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers who had tortured Indika Mendis.

Sumith Mendis had been released on arrest but Indika was held in the notorious Negombo prison for eight months.

On 14 August 2010, the brothers were arrested again, apparently on suspicion that they were again planning to seek asylum in Australia. Sumith Mendis was then tortured by the CID for six days, experiencing beatings and psychological abuse.

On 22 August, the brothers were taken to Negombo prison, along with Lasantha Wijeratne, another Sri Lankan who had also been deported from Australia and tortured in custody.

Sumith Mendis and Lasantha Wijeratne, examined by a judicial medical officer, were transferred to the hospital.

“They now face the risk of abuse by both prisoners and guards when they are again taken to Negombo prison unless authorities take the necessary steps to ensure their safety,” Madhu Malhotra said.

 

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