Another mass expulsion to Sri Lanka

More UK Complicity in Torture

[Phil Miller, Stop Deportations Blog, 3/12/12]

The UK Border Agency have planned another deportation charter flight to Sri Lanka for this Thursday 6th December 2012 at 1600hrs.

Visit Sri Lanka - poster

Here is a possible advert for their flights. Click to view full image

Despite public controversy, these mass expulsions to Sri Lanka are actually becoming more frequent. There are now charter deportation flights from London to Colombo departing on an almost monthly basis. Since mid-2012, the Australian government have followed Britain’s example, with planes full of ‘failed’ Tamil asylum seekers taking off from Christmas Island. Media reports [1|2] claim that dozens of refugees deported from Australia in November where arrested on arrival in Sri Lanka.

Last month I asked Yasmin Sooka, who is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, if she was concerned by the deportation of Tamils to Sri Lanka from Commonwealth States such as Britain and Australia. She responded, in a personal capacity, that these governments are “sending people back to be killed and tortured” [3].

Since December 2011, activists in London have attempted three times to physically block the buses which transfer Tamils from the detention centre to the deportation flight. Their actions have caused delays and given Barristers more time to get removal directions cancelled. Although these protests have resulted in 10 arrests, the Crown Prosecution Service have repeatedly dropped all charges, days before activists were due in court [4]. Is this to avoid further disclosure of the Government’s complicity in torture?

The British Ministry of Defence are still refusing to answer a Freedom of Information request [5] about whether Liam Fox’s fixer, Adam Werritty, visited Sri Lanka shortly before the deportation charter flights began in June 2011. A complaint to the Information Commissioner has been made.

The UK Border Agency Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) have admitted in response to a Freedom of Information request [6] that they do not know the identity of a source they cited in their July 2011 Country of Origin report on Sri Lanka. This ‘Colombo based human rights worker’ claimed it “was well known that many persons who were held in IDP camps at the end of the conflict scarred themselves so that on release they could make allegations that the Sri Lankan government had tortured them”.

And so the complicity and cover-up continues…


[1] 32 Australian deportees arrested at BIA,

[2] Deported asylum seekers jailed,

[3] Towards truth, justice and a political solution in Sri Lanka: Session 2, response at 56:35.

[4] For example, see Bindman’s press release: Case discontinued in protest against Tamil deportation.

[5] Dr. Fox’s staff in Sri Lanka June 2011

[6] Correspondence between UKBA COI Service and British HC in Colombo

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