Freedom Group accuses UKBA of withholding Sri Lanka torture information
Freedom from Torture (FFT), a UK-based rights group, accused the UK Border Agency of withholding statistics for the last quarter of 2012 while the Agency planned for a mass removal of Tamils, including those whose protection claims have been refused, on the 28 February to Sri Lanka. Presenting data obtained from the Border Agency using the ‘Freedom of Information (FOI) Act’ the rights group said, "UK has granted refugee status to at least 15 people who were previously removed from the UK to Sri Lanka where they claim to have been tortured or otherwise harmed."
The Border Agency released the information during the middle of an important case being heard by the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal on the risks facing Tamils on return to Sri Lanka from the UK. Evidence supplied by Freedom from Torture of Tamils with even low level (real or imputed) links to the LTTE experiencing torture after voluntary return to Sri Lanka in the post-conflict period is central to the case.
The FOI disclosures contradict repeated claims by Ministers that there is no credible evidence that Tamils removed from the UK have faced torture in Sri Lanka. These denials, trumpeted by the Sri Lankan government, were reiterated earlier this month by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister Alistair Burt during a trip to Sri Lanka. However, in the face of the UKBA’s new disclosures to Freedom from Torture, the FCO told the Guardian that it is "urgently seeking further information from the Home Office about any allegations," FFT said in its website.
Meanwhile, in a similar report released by the US-based Human Rights Watch documented 75 cases of predominately Tamil men and women who were allegedly held in Sri Lankan detention centres and repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the military, police and intelligence officials.
Sri Lanka’s security forces have used rape to torture and extract confessions from suspected Tamil separatists almost four years after the country’s civil war ended, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Tuesday this week.
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to India, Prasad Kariyawasam, said the testimonies of 41 women, 31 men and 3 boys were likely made by "economic refugees" who "need a good story" to get asylum.
The Ambassador further told Reuters in an interview, "Human rights violations are taking place in all countries of the world. Why Sri Lanka is constantly targeted by Human Rights Watch is something we are disturbed about. They may be working with the U.S. government. I dare to say that because the HRW report is announced just as the resolution is to be presented to the Human Rights Council."