Amnesty International calls for the UK Authorities not to deport Sri Lankans at risk of torture, ahead of a planned deportation from Gatwick Airport in London to Colombo this afternoon.
At least twenty Sri Lankans, mostly Tamil, face forcible return on the flight. The planned deportation comes after a UK documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, exposed shocking new evidence of war crimes committed during the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.
“Nobody should be deported from the UK if they are at risk of torture. The end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009 has not diminished the risks faced by rejected Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who continue to be subjected to arrest and detention upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. We are aware of cases of returned asylum seekers being tortured,” said Yolanda Foster, Sri Lanka Researcher at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International understands that at least one of the rejected asylum seekers due to be deported tried to commit suicide last night at an airport detention facility, following threats he reportedly received on the telephone to kill him once he returned to Sri Lanka. The death threat followed an interview given to the media.
The 31-year old attempted to hang himself by devising a noose from his bed quilt, his lawyer told Amnesty International.
The rejected asylum seeker is from the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna and says that he was recruited as a Tamil Tiger child soldier at the age of 13.
He is currently recovering from the suicide attempt at Harmondsworth Detention Centre near London’s Heathrow Airport, his lawyer added.
"The British government has a responsibility under international law to protect people at risk of torture and should not remove them. The law requires that each asylum claim and the risks individuals might face on return, is examined properly and individually," said Yolanda Foster.
Amnesty International has documented the endemic use of torture in Sri Lanka and a culture of impunity prevails.