Home > Government, News of the moment > Tamils to be deported from the UK despite clear torture evidence.

Tamils to be deported from the UK despite clear torture evidence.

By Peter Walker September 14th 2012.

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Two chartered flights bound for Sri Lanka are scheduled to take off next week, as evidence of human rights abuses mounts.

A woman rides her bicycle on a road in Jaffna

Many Tamils in the UK have sought treatment for torture injuries they received in Sri Lanka, particularly burns. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

The UK is to go ahead with a mass removal of Tamils to Sri Lanka next week despite mounting evidence from human rights group that many of them could be tortured on their return.

At least two and possibly three chartered flights are scheduled to leave the UK from Wednesday carrying an unknown number of Sri Lankan Tamils whose pleas to remain in the UK have been refused. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) refuses to discuss such flights until they have landed.

The Home Office says it only removes people who face no risk of torture, but Freedom from Torture and Human Rights Watch both argue that the government has severely underestimated this possibility when it comes to returned Tamils, many of whom are routinely arrested and questioned about links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and activities in the UK, with torture often playing a part.

Such removals were halted while the Sri Lankan government fought a brutal civil war with the Tamil separatist group but resumed after the LTTE’s military defeat in 2009.

In June the Guardian interviewed one man who recounted being beaten, hung and asphyxiated after being forcibly returned from the UK, testimony supported by a mass of scarring.

Despite the concerns, the UKBA is believed to be planning its biggest removal yet of Tamils, with two or possibly three flights leaving on successive days.

David Mepham, the UK head of Human Rights Watch, said the organisation had documented a series of cases of returned Tamils facing mistreatment.

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