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UK must halt deportations to Sri Lanka – Freedom From Torture

The British government must immediately halt all deportations to Sri Lanka and review their asylum policy following the escalating political crisis on the island, said UK-based charity Freedom From Torture.

“We are deeply troubled by this political crisis in Sri Lanka and the prospect of escalating brutality by the military, police and intelligence services,” said Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture.

Responding to the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister, Sceats said “Rajapaksa's presidency was a reign of terror for countless in Sri Lanka, especially in the minority Tamil community”.

“Thousands have been referred to us for torture that happened on his watch. Many traumatised survivors are in treatment with us still.”

“We call on the UK government to halt all forced returns to Sri Lanka and order an urgent review of the Home Office's asylum policy on Sri Lanka to ensure no lives are put at risk by the UK,” she continued.

Tamil asylum seekers have still been deported back to the island, despite continued reports of torture and human rights abuses committed by Sri Lankan authorities. Earlier this year a Tamil asylum seeker died after a suicide attempt in Australia, following the rejection of his asylum application by the Australian government. Another man who was deported from Australia was detained on arrival in Colombo.

In 2017, Sri Lanka remained the top country of origin for torture survivors referred to Freedom from Torture’s services for the seventh year in a row.