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UK Home Office reverses refusal of Tamil family’s asylum claim

The UK Home Office has granted asylum to Tamil scientist and torture survivor, Dr Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, and his family, following mounting criticism against the department’s serious procedural errors which placed the family at risk of deportation to Sri Lanka. 

Muhunthan arrived in the UK in 2018 on a Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship which permitted him to carry out pioneering research into renewable energy at the University of Bristol for a period of two years. Meanwhile, his wife, Sharmila, 42, was working as a care worker in a nursing home and their three children were attending school in the UK. He was subjected to persecution in 2019, when he visited his ill mother in Sri Lanka. Last year, the couple’s work permit terminated when Muhunthan’s scholarship expired. 

In September 2021, the family was ordered to move from Bristol to a London hotel and was informed by the Home Office that their asylum claim was under consideration. However, in an email dated 11 October, they were told that their claim had been refused on 23 August, 28 days before the family were told their case was still being considered. 

The department’s handling of the case was legally challenged by Muhunthan’s lawyer, Naga Kandiah of MTC Solicitors, who has welcomed the change of decision. He told the Guardian,

“This is an important victory which recognises there is systematic torture of Tamils going on in Sri Lanka. This scientist and his family will all be assets to the UK.”

Read more from The Guardian here.

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