Amnesty International Says Sri Lanka Must Not Torture Rejected Asylum Seekers

Press Release
June 17, 2011

Amnesty International Says Sri Lanka Must Not Torture Rejected Asylum Seekers

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) – The Sri Lankan authorities must refrain from any ill-treatment of a group of rejected asylum seekers who arrived in Colombo on Friday after being forcibly returned from the United Kingdom, Amnesty International said.

The 26 Sri Lankans, most of them Tamil, were reportedly taken for questioning upon their arrival in the capital. Amnesty International believes that some of the returnees are at risk of torture.

The deportations came after a U.K. documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, exposed shocking new evidence of war crimes committed during the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.

“The government of Sri Lanka has a history of arresting and detaining rejected Sri Lankan asylum seekers upon their return and we are aware of cases of people being tortured," said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka researcher. “It is deeply alarming to hear that these people may already have been detained, minutes after stepping off the plane in Colombo. The Sri Lankan authorities must ensure that the rejected asylum seekers are not subjected to any form of ill-treatment or torture.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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