Tamils Set for U.K. Deportation Following Suicide Attempt, Says Amnesty International

Press Release
June 16, 2011

Tamils Set for U.K. Deportation Following Suicide Attempt, Says Amnesty International

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) – Amnesty International is calling on the United Kingdom authorities not to deport Sri Lankans at risk of torture, ahead of a planned deportation from Gatwick Airport in London to Colombo this afternoon.

At least twenty Sri Lankans, mostly Tamil, face forcible return on the flight.

"Nobody should be deported from the United Kingdom if they are at risk of torture," said Yolanda Foster, Sri Lanka researcher at Amnesty International. "The end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009 has not diminished the risks faced by failed Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who continue to be subjected to arrest and detention upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. We are aware of cases of returned asylum seekers being tortured."

Amnesty International understands that at least one of the failed asylum seekers due to be deported tried to commit suicide last night at an airport detention facility, following threats he reportedly received on the telephone to kill him once he returned to Sri Lanka. The death threat followed an interview given to the media.

"The British government has a responsibility under international law to protect people at risk of torture and should not remove them," said Foster.

Amnesty International has documented the endemic use of torture in Sri Lanka and a culture of impunity prevails.

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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