The government has conceded that it is doing almost nothing to establish what is happening to scores of Tamils who are being forcibly removed from the UK, despite concerns for their safety in Sri Lanka.
A flight chartered by the UK Border Agency was due to depart on Wednesday with up to 50 failed asylum applicants on board, 24 hours after several human rights groups warned that they could face detention without trial, torture or even death.
As lawyers for some of the individuals lodged last-minute appeals, the Home Office claimed that arrangements to monitor the welfare of the deportees had been sub-contracted to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an inter-governmental body. "They do it on our behalf," a spokesman said.
When the IOM denied this, the Border Agency conceded that the only measure being taken to ensure the safety of Tamils who are forcibly removed from the UK to Sri Lanka is to give them the telephone number and address of the British High Commission in Colombo.
In a letter to Keith Best, head of Freedom from Torture, one of the NGOs expressing concern about the deportations, Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, said: "Individuals are provided with the contact details of the high commission in Colombo and may contact them if they require any assistance."
Best had asked Damian Green, the immigration minister, to explain whether any arrangements were in place to monitor the safety of deportees.
The Foreign Office believes that the humanitarian and security situation has improved for both Tamils and the majority Sinhalese population since the civil war ended in May 2009.
However, Freedom from Torture, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are all expressing concern about the safety of Tamils forced to return, saying there is evidence that they are continuing to suffer severe mistreatment or are being "disappeared".
There is also concern among human rights groups and immigration lawyers that the Border Agency is taking decisions on the basis of assurances given by Sri Lankan intelligence officers – the very people accused of perpetrating many of the alleged abuses.
In its latest report on the risks faced by Tamils imprisoned by the government, the Border Agency says it has relied in part on an assurance that the UK high commission in Colombo obtained from senior intelligence officials.
The report quotes an official at the mission as saying last May: "I asked the senior government intelligence officials if there was any truth in allegations that the Sri Lankan authorities were torturing suspects. They denied this was the case and added that many Sri Lankans who had claimed asylum abroad had inflicted wounds on themselves in order to create scars to support their stories."
A number of Tamils who had been taken into detention in recent weeks after the failure of their asylum applications were told at the last moment on Wednesday that they would not be put on the flight due to depart that afternoon, as had been planned.
After several hours of protracted legal wrangles, which saw several Tamils taken off the aircraft and returned to detention centres, the flight left from Stansted airport in Essex at around 8pm, five hours later than planned. (Source: The Guardian)
what a campaign by the bogus asylum seekers, hope British government will not be fooled by this.
Thomas Thursday, 29 September 2011 06:24 AM
No Death, may be imprisonment
Deshan Lankaputhra Thursday, 29 September 2011 06:51 AM
Amnesty & Human Right watch are imagine things.If these so called asylum seekers have breached any law in Sri Lanka they should be punished.We should not allow these culprits to tarnish Sri Lanka image.
Nondi Silva Thursday, 29 September 2011 08:42 AM
Vanakkam Aiyya. UK is no good now. It has no money now to feed their own people and will soon be forced to borrow from Sri Lanka, the Miracle of the East. Also their crime is worse than during Prabas days so you are safer here.
UK TAMIL BOY Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:12 AM
Aha.............. Ha....... VERY FUNNY
Lanke Banda Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:16 AM
UK please keep them there. As they will only cost us which is a waste of money as they will fall into the group of Un Productive Un Patriotic Lankans & we will have to contribute our hard earned money on them for welfare.
kumar Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:55 AM
Sri lankans who in the west should pressure the western govt NOT to send them back,these eco refugees are scum,they should be kept in the west and be a BURDEN on their economies not coming back after tarnishing the SL image claiming false fear etc,these scum should be the responsibility of HRW,AI,MPs who live on the LTTE payroll. We in Sri Lanka DO NOT NEED THIS SCUM.
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