The UK is preparing to deport more than 100 Tamils on Wednesday, while pressure by human rights organisations is mounting to stop all deportations until the safety of Tamils can be guaranteed.
An event on the sidelines of the Labour Party conference, organised by Freedom from Torture and Human Rights Watch, highlighted the systematic targeting of Tamils being deported from other countries.
Hosted by Channel 4’s Jonathan Miller, the event focussed on ‘the desperate need for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka and to cover lessons that can be drawn from the Sri Lanka “case” for the protection of human rights within UK foreign policy.’
Freedom from Torture, a British medical organisation for victims of torture, has several Tamil clients who were tortured by the Sri Lankan state.
Keith Best, a member of the organisation, presented footage of one Tamil youth who was held by police, beaten and burned with hot irons after returning to Sri Lanka from the UK.
The organisation pointed out that this is only one of many cases that they are dealing with at the moment.
“What does the UK government know about the fate of those people it forcibly removed to Sri Lanka back in June? Nothing. There is no sign of monitoring in place to assess the safety of those returned.
With the evidence we and others continue to highlight demonstrating that torture continues in Sri Lanka – and the high numbers of Tamils who remain in an “at risk” category in the country according to international sources, often due to suspected or proven links to the LTTE - this Government needs to be very, very sure it is not exposing those it removes to a risk of torture on return.” said Best.
Jonathan Miller added,
“I've been blown away by the sheer number of Sri Lankans who are on Freedom from Torture's books and the organisation's role in publicising removal flights from the UK which raises very serious concerns about the Home Office and its vetting process for refugees going back to places with such a grim record."
UK Director for Human Rights Watch, David Mepham, slammed the British Government’s decision to wait for Sri Lanka’s own inquiry, before pushing for an independent international investigation as recommended by the UN Panel of Experts.
Sri Lanka’s inquiry, due in November, has already been rubbished by many organisations, including Amnesty International who described it as ‘flawed at every level’.