British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, met with Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK, Saroja Sirisena, to discuss “shared issues of security and migration”.
Last May, the British Upper Tribunal ruled against the Home Secretary and in favour of two Tamil asylum seekers in the case known as KK & RS vs the Home Secretary. The case centred on the asylum appeal of two Tamil refugees who were detained by Sri Lanka’s security forces and subject to torture. The Home Office rejected their claims and alleged that they were not at risk of abuse upon returning to Sri Lanka as they were not high-profile figures. The Tribunal rejected the Home Office’s claim and recognised the risk of arrest and torture Tamil activists continue to face in Sri Lanka. Responding to the ruling the Home Secretary tried to overturn the court ruling but had her appeal rejected last month.
The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has documented 178 credible cases of torture from 2015-2018, excluding 22 individuals abroad who reported torture following the UN special investigation. A further report detailed the testimonies of 15 Tamils who were abducted and tortured since Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed the office of the President in 2019.
Following the Tribunal ruling the Home Office has since amended its guidance to reflect the threat of torture in Sri Lanka.
Patel’s meeting follows a high-profile diplomatic visit to the island from Britain’s minister for South Asia, Lord Ahmad, and a widely condemned meeting between Britain’s Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, and her Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris.
It is simply appalling that there is no mention of human rights here. The Government of Sri Lanka flouted commitments made in UK-led UNHRC resolutions and presides over ongoing human rights abuses today. Has our Government abandoned its commitment to this issue? https://t.co/UrHrjDIpli
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) October 27, 2021
Prominent opposition MPs took to Twitter in outrage of the meeting and the failure to raise human rights issues on the island, which Patel has also seemingly failed to do.