New UK home office policy advise on Sri Lanka is misleading and downplays ongoing human rights violations, Freedom from Torture has said.
The charity which provides rehabilitation and therapy for torture survivors in the UK has said it is deeply concerned by the new policy and has called for an urgent review.
Sri Lanka was the top country of origin for torture survivors referred to the organisation in 2016, and referrals included survivors who have been detained during the current government’s tenure.
Ann Hannah, Freedom from Torture’s Director of Policy and Advocacy said:
“This guidance is misleading at best, if not downright dangerous. Sri Lanka has been criticised by a number of human rights bodies and organisations in the last year, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Committee against Torture. There is every possibility that decisions based on the new Country Guidance will result in people at risk of torture being denied protection and returned to Sri Lanka, in violation of the UK’s obligations under international law.
“The Home Office has selectively quoted UN reports and our research and evidence to produce an inaccurate picture of the human rights situation and the government of Sri Lanka’s willingness to address abuses including torture at the hands of state agents. The Guidance must be reviewed as a matter of urgency to ensure that it accurately reflects the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.”