Amnesty International appeals for halt to deportations to Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 June 2011, 13:12 GMT]
Amnesty International called Thursday for the UK Authorities not to deport Sri Lankans at risk of torture, ahead of a planned deportation in the afternoon from Gatwick Airport in London, echoing a call Wednesday by Human Rights Watch. At least twenty people, mostly Tamil, face forcible return on the flight, the rights watchdog said, adding it was aware of cases of deported asylum seekers being arrested and tortured on arrival in Colombo. At least one of the failed asylum seekers due to be deported tried to commit suicide last night at an airport detention facility, following threats he reportedly received on the telephone to kill him once he returned to Sri Lanka, Amnesty said.

“Nobody should be deported from the UK if they are at risk of torture,” said Yolanda Foster, Sri Lanka Researcher at Amnesty International.

"The British government has a responsibility under international law to protect people at risk of torture and should not remove them."

“The end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009 has not diminished the risks faced by failed Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who continue to be subjected to arrest and detention upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. We are aware of cases of returned asylum seekers being tortured.”

On Wednesday Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the British government’s decision to deport asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, saying they should not be sent back home until the situation improves there.

Brad Adams, South Asia director of the New York based human rights organisation, told BBC Sinhala service: "we urge the British government to hold off sending people who could face persecution on return". He was speaking a day before Britain is scheduled to deport a large number of people on a chartered flight to Colombo.

"We don't think it is the time for large scale deportation to take place from United Kingdom" says the HRW.

"People who are critical of Sri Lankan government are now often targeted. People who were opposed to the Tamil Tigers, but were critical of the government sometimes got victimised".


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