The UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee has released a report calling on the British government to do more to assess the risk of asylum seekers who are removed from the UK, particularly highlighting removals to Sri Lanka.
The report examined a case covered by the Guardian earlier this year which followed a deported Tamil asylum seeker (see here).
It also noted the UN Committee Against Torture’s report which detailed “allegations of widespread torture, secret detention centres, enforced disappearances and deaths in detention in Sri Lanka”, and Human Rights Watch’s comments to the committee that they had "documented many cases of torture and ill-treatment (including rape) of failed asylum-seekers at the hands of security forces".
The report stated that,
“In addition, the Government failed to give a direct answer to our request for an assurance that it was content that its policy on deportation of Sri Lankans was not putting people at risk of torture.”
“We find it unsatisfactory that the Government has not been more forthcoming to Parliament about its efforts—in general and in specific cases—to assess the level of risk to the safety of those who are removed from the UK.”
“However, the routine air of the FCO's initial responses to our questions has not given us particular confidence that the FCO is being as energetic as it might in impressing upon the UK Border Agency the degree of risk.”
“We encourage the FCO to be energetic in evaluating reports by non-governmental organisations and media sources of torture of deportees from the UK, including in Sri Lanka, and in spelling out the risk to the UK Border Agency.
The Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency, Mr Rob Whiteman was also quoted as acknowledging concerns over deportations to Sri Lanka, saying,
"we clearly do need to look at the conditions of what happens when we make returns".
Statistics from 2011 showed that a total of 481 asylum seekers had been deported from the UK to Sri lanka.
The report also acknowledged that "concerns about human rights abuses in Sri Lanka have led the Prime Minister of Canada to indicate that he would not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in 2013 unless he saw evidence of progress."
See the full text of the report here.
UK ‘inconsistent’ on human rights – Foreign Affairs Committee (17 October 2012)