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UK High Court blocks Tamil deportations

[TamilNet, Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:46 No Comment]

The British High Court Wednesday intervened and blocked a scheduled deportation of a group of failed Tamil asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka. High Court Justice Wilkie said that because the guidance on Sri Lanka was being considered "virtually afresh" and it was clear that "the existing country guidance will have to change", the failed Tamil asylum seekers could not be deported as planned.The UK Border Agency (UKBA), which made the determination to deport even while there was evidence of returnees being tortured, said that UKBA will appeal the High Court order.

Meanwhile, Keith Best, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, a UK-based rights group, told Channel 4 News: "In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it is a sad indictment of our political masters that it has taken a court to impose the precautions that we have repeatedly called for.

"The UKBA’s removals policy for Sri Lankan Tamils remains deeply flawed. Until this is remedied many in need of the UK’s protection still live with the risk of forced return to torture."

PDF: Returnees at Risk: Detention and Torture in Sri Lanka

Jan Jananayagam of Tamils Against Genocide (TAG-UK), an activist group that works for the welfare of war-affected Tamils, said, "TAG welcomes this precedent setting legal position taken by the High Court. TAG has participated as an interested party in the Sri Lanka country guidance, fielding a team of experts to give evidence in addition to submissions centred around TAGs ‘Returnees at Risk’ report which has become one of the key data sets considered by the judges.

"Additionally TAG assists individual torture victims in deportation appeals with pro-bono expert reports produced inhouse or by commissioning medical or psychiatric reports," Jananayagam said.

The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, described the situation as "virtually unique", due to the timing of the case.

At the same time as this particular case was under consideration, an immigration tribunal has been hearing evidence on the wider question of the situation in Sri Lanka. Its deliberations will be used to update Home Office guidance on the risks of returning people to the country, Channel-4 reported.

In a report released this Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sri Lankan military has used rape to torture and extract confessions from suspected Tamil fighters almost four years after the war ended.

The rights group documented 75 cases of predominately Tamil men and women who said they were held in Sri Lankan detention centres and repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the military, police and intelligence officials.

[Full Coverage]

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