40 Sri Lankan asylum seekers face deportation from Britain

Refugees may suffer reprisal in Sri Lanka   

15th June, 2010:  Sri Lankan asylum seekers, including some with links to the Tamil Tigers, are anticipated to be deported from Britain to return to the disturbed country.
About 40 are estimated to be facing expulsion, with human rights campaigners fearing the refugees may suffer act of vengeance in Sri Lanka, where the Tigers were defeated in 2009 during the civil war.

Five of the 40 said their lives were at danger after claiming UK officials had passed paperwork about their cases to the Sri Lankan authorities.

News of the exile came as Channel 4 showed video footage of violence carried out during the final weeks of the 2009 conflict.

The documentary called Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields aired last night, showing violent scenes that caused many Sri Lankans to escape.

Alistair Burt, foreign minister, said he was astonished by the programme and said the footage contained confirmation of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Sri Lankan authorities have on the other hand rejected the footage and accused the United Nations of prejudice and jumping to hurried conclusions.

Channel 4 claimed the group of asylum seekers, many of whom were Tamil, were being compelled back into danger, with a flight believed to be scheduled for tomorrow.

The Asia programme director for Amnesty International, Sam Zarifi said there was evidence that failed asylum seekers had been tortured.

He said that if people were being sent back to Sri Lanka, who were known or were suspected to be Tamils associated with the LTTE, the possibility of retaliation from the authorities was a concern.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said that returns to Sri Lanka would only be undertaken if they are satisfied that the individual had no protection needs. The improving situation in Sri Lanka had meant it was safe to remove people there.

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