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Failed asylum seekers sent back to Sri Lanka amid warnings

A group of Sri Lankans deported after being refused asylum in Britain has arrived in Colombo as rights groups warned Tamil deportees may face torture and harassment.  

Some 60 failed asylum seekers were due to be sent back to Sri Lanka but 35 won last minute injunctions to appeal for exceptional leave to remain in the UK.

Campaigners say that some Tamils who are deported are in danger of being tortured because of their alleged links to the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  

A source at the Sri Lanka office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told The UKAsian that the returnees were met by officials from British High Commission in Colombo and the Sri Lankan immigration service at Bandaranaike International Airport.  

Each of the returnees was given £50 by the IOM towards their onward travel and expenses.  

13 Tamils among the group were also interviewed by the Criminal Investigation Department and the State Intelligence Service before being released.  

Human Rights Groups have documented a number of cases of torture of returnees to Sri Lanka from Britain, Europe and Australia.  

Others however, say that those deported – including ones with ties to insurgent groups – are only routinely vetted on arrival in Colombo owing to the much improved security situation on the Island since the end of the country’s Civil War in 2009.

An East Ham based lawyer – a Sri Lankan Tamil – who didn’t want to be named said: “Most of these people are failed economic migrants who have used Sri Lanka’s historical issues about the war and persecution of Tamils to try and stay in this country.  I know a Sinhala girl who came to the UK as a student but never attended class and overstayed her visa.  When she was detained by the UKBA she told them that her husband had died after being arrested and tortured by the Sri Lankan police whilst all the while he was working illegally in Nottingham.”

– Viji Alles

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