Welcome to the first post on Free Movement not by freemovement! Several of us in the immigration team at Renaissance Chambers will be contributing posts to this blog in future, and this is the first effort. You may need to bear with us a little as we find our digital feet.
Some worrying evidence has emerged recently from Sri Lanka on the arrest, ill treatment and killings of returned asylum seekers.
On 2 September 2010, Amnesty International called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure the safety of three men who have been tortured and jailed following their forced return from Australia in 2009.
It has also been reported that nine failed asylum seekers were killed on return, a shocking development. Clear reports of killings on return are a new development in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka Guardian ran a story on the arrest and detention of two Tamils on arrival. A UK based website reported the arrest on return of a long-time German resident Tamil. The Sri Lanka News website reported on another arrest-on-return case, and another was reported by the Australian Tamil Congress. The Australian also recently reported on immediate detention of returned failed asylum seekers.
The Sydney Morning Herald linked the increased surveillance at the airport in Sri Lanka to security equipment provided by the Australian authorities, which perhaps explains the means.
Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra, Senaka Walgapaya, made and reiterated comments to the effect that many Tamil asylum seekers are hardcore LTTE fighters, which offers a possible explanation for the motive behind these recent reports.
This material is recent and new and post-dates the existing Country Guideline cases on Sri Lanka. The reports arguably suggest that all failed asylum seekers faced a risk of persecution in Sri Lanka. It is therefore highly relevant to fresh claims by Sri Lankans already in the UK.
Failed asylum seekers seem to be perceived as LTTE supporters by the authorities, which chimes with the recent statement from the Sri Lankan High Commission to the effect that the Sri Lankan government are hostile to the ‘seperatist lobby’ who ‘live in the comforts mainly in the West’ (SLHC statement, 30 November 2010).
That hostility can only increase after human rights lawyers tried to obtain arrest warrants against the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and one of his senior associates, who had arrived in Britain, over ‘war crimes and human rights violations’ during the last phase of combat between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last year.