Court injunctions leave UK deportation flights half empty – paper
British High Court is regularly issuing injunctions banning the removal of Tamils because they are at risk of being tortured in Sri Lanka, and these court interventions are resulting in chartered deportation flights commissioned by the UK Border Agency leaving UK half-empty, the Independent reported in the Monday edition of the paper. "Despite the regular setbacks in the High Court, which can cost tax payers tens of thousands of pounds each day in legal fees and court costs, the UK Border Agency shows no sign of rethinking its deportation strategy for Sri Lanka, a country where the torture of returned asylum seekers has been empirically documented," the paper said.
"…many Tamils returning from Britain have been arrested, interrogated and tortured for information on their communities, both in the UK and Sri Lanka. Human rights groups have documented more than 30 examples of Tamils who were forcibly deported by Britain and then tortured on their return," the article said.
While the UK Border Agency continues to insist that it only deports Tamils who are not at risk of torture, the High Court judges have grown increasingly reluctant to send them back given such overwhelming evidence, according to the paper.
The paper cited recent court cases where attorneys for possible detainees obtained last minute injunctions from the High Court staying the removal.
"In June more than 50 predominantly Tamil failed asylum seekers were removed from a deportation flight after a High Court judge agreed that there was a risk they might be tortured," and added further that, "[l]ast month the Government tried to a similar initiative but had to remove more than 20 people at the last minute after judges ruled that anyone with a perceived or real link to the Tamil Tigers, or anyone who claimed they had been tortured in Sri Lanka, could not be deported. Those who did leave on the half empty planes tended to be those with non-political affiliations such as economic migrants, visa over stayers and convicted criminals," the paper said.
The paper, quoting Jan Jananayagam, an activist from Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a non-profit which has documented the torture of forcible returnees, said: “The entire asylum processing system is inefficient at multiple levels. It is not only the tax-payer funded half-empty flights to Colombo that are wasteful. So many of these cases are a waste of public money because many asylum cases are funded by charities, lawyers working pro-bono or at earlier stages via legal aid. And of course UK Border Agency is funded by the tax payer. So both sides of the argument are funded by the public.”