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Tamil asylum seeker granted refugee status amid risk of being ‘interrogated and tortured’

A 35 year old Tamil man, seeking asylum to avoid persecution by the Sri Lankan government for his alleged involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, was granted refugee status in New Zealand after a high court ruling.

The recent ruling concluded that he faced a risk of persecution and stated;

"The tribunal finds that there is a real chance that on his return to Sri Lanka the appellant will be detained and interrogated.

The fact that he is a Tamil, who, in the past, was detained and tortured about suspected assistance to the LTTE (The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), will likely mean that his alleged involvement in facilitating the unlawful travel of Tamils from the north may be seen not just as an ordinary criminal offence but as providing support for the Tamil cause.

During interrogation, there is a real chance that the appellant will be tortured or otherwise mistreated in violation of his fundamental human right to be free from such mistreatment."

He was accused by Sri Lankan police of people smuggling with his wife, who is still in Sri Lanka. She was summoned by police over allegations that she and her husband were helping to smuggling Tamils overseas using false passports and visas.

Shaken by the encounter, his wife went into hiding after authorities warned that if her husband did not return they would 'get rid' of her and her children and they would end up as entries on a missing persons list.

The man is concerned that the people smuggling charged have been fabricated against him for supposedly being a Tamil Tiger sympathiser or associate.

His previous asylum claims were denied by New Zealand twice and he also failed with a claim in Belgium. He stated in his case that he was subject to torture and traumatic flashbacks, but these accounts were dismissed in his previous tribunals.

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