Amnesty blasts Britain for deporting Sri Lankans

Amnesty International accused Britain of deporting Sri Lankans despite knowing they were at risk of torture once they returned home.

London: Amnesty International accused
Britain on Friday of deporting Sri Lankans despite knowing they
were at risk of torture once they returned home.

The London-based rights group said at least 20 Sri
Lankan failed asylum seekers, who are mainly Tamils, faced
forcible return on a flight from London`s Gatwick Airport to
Colombo today.

Amnesty said at least one of the failed asylum seekers
due to be deported had tried to commit suicide at an airport
detention facility, following death threats he reportedly
received on the telephone.

The threats to the man, whom Amnesty did not name,
were made after he gave a media interview.

British authorities refused to confirm the
deportations had taken place.

A Home Office spokesman said, "We don`t comment in
advance of charter operations for security reasons."

Yolanda Foster, Sri Lanka researcher at Amnesty, said:
"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 failed 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."

"The British government has a responsibility under
international law to protect people at risk of torture and
should not remove them," Foster added.

A British lawmaker, Siobhain McDonagh, accused Britain
of "painting targets on the backs" of the deported Sri
Lankans.

"I think parliament needs to say whether we want our
country to continue with these miserable deportations, and to
continue to have Tamil blood on our hands," she said in a
debate today in the House of Commons.

McDonagh identified one of the Tamils concerned as
Jenach Gopinath, who had previously worked for a leading Tamil
lawmaker who has subsequently been arrested and detained in
Sri Lankan.

"The UK takes its international responsibilities
seriously and considers each claim for asylum on its
individual merits -- if an applicant demonstrates a need for
international protection they will be granted it," said
Immigration Minister Damian Green.

PTI

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