2ND LEAD (Corrections)
TAG files legal challenge to UK deportation policy
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 December 2011, 03:27 GMT]
Tamils Against Genocide (TAG-UK), an activist group that assists in obtaining legal redress to war-affected Tamil civilians, filed a legal action in the British Queens Bench Administrative Court Tuesday claiming that UK government’s policy to proceed with the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka was a breach of legitimate expectation of policy review following serious concerns of returnee safety revealed in the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) report and the submissions by independent NGOs including Freedom From Torture (FfT) and Amnesty International to UNCAT, legal sources in London said. The British Government has reportedly organized a chartered flight to return nearly fifty failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka on 15th December.
The complaint in the case Tamils Against Genocide v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (CO/ 12153/2011) claims that the UK government has an obligation to review its deportations policy in light of credible and relevant recent information, and that the Government has failed to perform the review before issuing deportation order.
The complaint requested the Court to cancel the deportation flight or issue an order to stay the flight until such a review takes place.
The complaint also provided evidence to identify persons originating in the Vanni region as a special category at risk of persecution on return.
TAG spokesperson in UK said, "while the challenge lodged today does not prevent the British government from proceeding with the flight, TAG invites lawyers representing deportees to apply for an emergency injunction or stay of their clients’ deportation pending the outcome of TAG’s legal challenge to the deportation policy.
"Lawyers or family acting for deportees due to be sent back on the 15th can use the general template found here
which lists the grounds to be used for the application for injunction," the spokesperson said.
The complaint references Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt's statement that his office "will continue to investigate any credible and relevant allegations and review our policy in light of any findings."
In addition, the complaint cites a recent Swiss Federal Court ruling indicating that UK policy may violate EU case law in relation to asylum claims from Sri Lanka.
The Swiss judgment dated 27 Oct 2011, published a few days ago on the UNHCR website states: ‘political opponents, critical journalists, human rights activists, critical NGO representatives, as well as victims of or witnesses to serious human rights violations and persons who are presumed to have close contacts to the LTTE represented groups are still at risk of persecution in Sri Lanka. In general, returns to Sri Lanka including the East and North are considered reasonable, with the exception of Vanni region where no returns should take place. For persons who left the northern province some time ago, the existence of social network and chances for securing minimal living conditions should be considered.’
TAG has previously successfully intervened in UK as a third party intervenor to prevent deportations in asylum cases relating to persons from Vanni region.