Asylum seekers are at risk of torture 17th June, 2011: Amnesty International has called for the UK Authorities not to extradite Sri Lankans at risk of torment, ahead of a planned deportation from Gatwick Airport in London to Colombo this afternoon.
At least forty Sri Lankans, mostly Tamil, face compulsory return on the flight. The planned deportation came after a UK documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, exposed appalling new evidence of war crimes committed during the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.
Yolanda Foster, Sri Lanka Researcher at Amnesty International said that nobody should be deported from the UK if they are at risk of torture. The end of the armed disagreement in Sri Lanka in May 2009 has not reduced the risks faced by rejected Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who continue to be subjected to arrest and detention upon their arrival in Sri Lanka.
Foster asserted” We are aware of cases of returned asylum seekers being tortured.”
Amnesty International claimed that one of the rejected 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. The death threat followed an interview given to the media.
The 31-year old attempted to hang himself by devising a noose from his bed quilt, his lawyer told Amnesty International.
The rejected asylum seeker is from the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna and says that he was employed as a Tamil Tiger child soldier at the age of 13. He is currently getting better from the suicide attempt at Harmondsworth Detention Centre near London’s Heathrow Airport, his lawyer added.
Foster added that the British government has a liability under international law to protect people at risk of torture and should not remove them.
Foster said the law requires that each asylum claim and the risks individuals might face on return, is examined properly and individually.
Amnesty International has documented the endemic use of torture in Sri Lanka and a culture of impunity prevails.