Canada refugee “at grave risk of torture” - Amnesty
[TamilNet, Saturday, 22 December 2001, 01:48 GMT]
Amnesty International, the human rights group, Friday urged its members to appeal to the Canadian government not to deport a recognised refugee, Manickavasagam Suresh, back to Sri Lanka as “he would be at grave risk of torture.” Noting that Suresh is alleged to be a member of the Liberation Tigers, Amnesty said it “has documented numerous incidences of the Sri Lankan security forces torturing people in their custody, particularly suspected LTTE members.”
In a letter to its members Friday, Amnesty said “it is feared that Canadian authorities may return a Tamil man, Manickavasagam Suresh, to Sri Lanka, where he would be at grave risk of torture. The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to rule in his appeal in early January 2002. If the Court rules against him he will be at risk of immediate deportation.”
“Manickavasagam Suresh is alleged to be a member of the Liberation Tigers,” Amnesty International. “There are also continuing and frequent reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, ‘disappearances’ and extrajudicial executions during the ongoing armed conflict between security forces and the LTTE,” Amnesty said.
The Canadian authorities recognised Manickavasagam Suresh as a refugee in 1991, but arrested and detained him, pending deportation, as a suspected member of "an organization that had committed terrorist acts." He was released in March 1998 under stringent conditions, while appealing his deportation. “The upcoming Supreme Court ruling will almost certainly be the final decision in his case,” Amnesty said.
Amnesty International says it “believes that nobody should be forcibly returned to a country where they might be at risk of serious human rights violations.” Amnesty International recognises that states have a right to take measures to protect their own security: nonetheless, the protection against forcible return to a country where one might face torture is absolute and binding under international human rights law.
Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Amnesty pointed out, adding that under Article 3, no person may be returned to another state where "there are substantial grounds for believing he would be in danger of being subjected to torture".
“The Canadian government is also bound by the internationally-recognized principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits states from returning people against their will to countries where they risk serious human rights violations,” the London-based human rights group said.
Amnesty urged its members to appeal to Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Joseph Jacques Chrétien and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Elinor Caplan, “urging the authorities not to forcibly return Manickavasagam Suresh to Sri Lanka, and expressing deep concern that, if returned, he would be at risk of torture and other serious human rights violations; pointing out that Canada is bound by the Convention against Torture, and urging them not to put Manickavasagam Suresh at risk of torture, regardless of the accusations against him and noting that the Canadian government is bound by the internationally-recognized principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits states from forcibly returning people to countries where they risk serious human rights violation.”