Deportation of Tamils blocked by UK court

UK Border Agency stressed that the high court decision did not represent a blanket ban on returns to Sri Lanka.

A High Court in Britain has blocked the deportation of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers scheduled to take place on Thursday  February28, the ‘Daily Mirror’ newspaper reported.

The decision applies to all other failed Tamil asylum seekers as well as those in detention.

Pending investigations into their claims that they would be tortured in Sri Lanka, none of them can be deported now.

However, the UK Border Agency stressed that the decision did not represent a blanket ban on returns to Sri Lanka, and added, “We are disappointed with the outcome of this hearing and we will appeal.”

Sri Lankan security forces, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released earlier this week, were using violence and torture against suspected members or supporters of LTTE.

The report had also accused the British government of continuing to deport failed asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka and that they face the risk of being raped and tortured on their return, four years after the end of the civil war, which the Sri Lanka government has denied.

Evidence on the wider question of the situation in Sri Lanka is being heard by an immigration tribunal in Britain. Its deliberations will be used to update UK Home Office guidance on the risks of returning asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.

Justice Wilkie, in his high court ruling this week, said that ‘it was clear that the existing country guidance will have to change’ because the guidance on Sri Lanka were being considered ‘virtually afresh’.

“That position is one which this court cannot simply blind itself to,” he said.

Although many individuals over the last 18 months have won last-minute court injunctions preventing their return, it is believed this is the first time a UK court has blocked the deportation of a group of Tamils to Sri Lanka.

“The UKBA’s removals policy for Sri Lankan Tamils remains deeply flawed. Until this is remedied, many in need of the UK’s protection still live with the risk of being forced return to torture,” chief executive of rights group Freedom from Torture said.
 
 

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