Making an emergency ‘Point of Order’ speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West, raised the issue of deported Tamil asylum seekers being tortured by the Sri Lankan government. Referring to a HRW report on torture of Tamil deportees, Mr. Thomas said “The Foreign Office says they condemn torture but their counterparts in the Home Office have so far rejected the danger of torture to Tamil deportees. At the moment the Tories are saying one thing in one department and doing the reverse in another. They need to take the allegations of torture much more seriously than they are so far.” Separately, activists from the ‘No Borders’ group protested today the deportation of 60 Tamil refugees by attempting to halt the bus transporting them.
The activists, all of whom were non-Tamils, had organized this protest claiming that the Tamils would face torture or death if deported to Sri Lanka. One of the activists went under the bus and chained himself to it in order to prevent it from moving.
The police removed the protestors in a few hours time.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Thomas asked “Human Rights Watch has recently published further evidence of failed Tamil asylum seekers who have been deported from the UK by the UK Border Agency being tortured on their return to Sri Lanka. The whole House wants to ensure that this country has strong immigration policies in place, and that they are adhered to, but it will surely also be concerned about those reports of torture. Have you heard of any possibility of a written statement from the Home Secretary, seeking to clarify her policy on the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers in the light of that new evidence?”
He further raised questions to the Secretaries of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Home Department on the issue of torture of the deported Tamil asylum seekers.
On another front, TAG applied to the UK Administrative Court this morning for an injunction against the UK government proceeding with the charter flight of forced returns to Sri Lanka scheduled for Wednesday.
The Independent reported today that dozens of "Sri Lankan" asylum seekers were not deported after a senior judge recognized the possibility of torture.
"Mr Justice Wilkie declined to order the removal all the Tamil passengers but he did rule that anyone who showed during their failed asylum process that they risked allegations against them from the Sri Lankan government of a real or perceived Tamil Tiger connection, or had shown evidence that they had been previously tortured, should not be deported," the report said.