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Last updated: 18 October, 2009 - Published 13:00 GMT
 
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UK Lanka deportations 'under review'
 

 
 
Tamil asylum seekers in UK holding a protest rally in Trafalgar Square, London (file photo by Action Group of Tamil Asylum Seekers -AGTAS)
Tamil asylum seekers have earlier accused UK of double standards - trying to deport them on the one hand while accusing Sri Lanka of human rights violations on the other

A British court has called upon the authorities to consider accusations of human rights violations in Sri Lanka while reviewing deportation of failed asylum seekers to the island.

High Court Judge Pelling, QC, has made the remarks after the British Home Office informed the court that the country’s policy is under review after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka government announced the defeat of the Tamil Tigers on 18 May.

The judge made the remark at Manchester High Court, last week, while delivering a judgment of an appeal by a Sri Lankan Tamil national, only known as Mr. B, against his continuous detention since 26 May 2006 by UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Judge Pellling said: “First, at least one reason for the review must be not so much the end of hostilities itself but a concern about possible human rights abuses against the minority in the aftermath.”

‘Halted since April’

In a statement to the court, the British Home Office said it had undertaken a review and “had not enforced returns of failed asylum seekers whilst we conduct this revalidation.”

UK Home Office
Home Office says last deportation to Sri Lanka was on 25 April

Andrew Philip Saunders, a Country Policy Officer at UKBA, has submitted a statement to the court in this regard.

It said: “In practice the last enforced return was on 25 April and as of today none are currently planned though we have identified individuals”.

Ruling that the continuous detention of Mr. B was unlawful, Judge Pelling, QC, also noted that Mr. B will not going to be deported within the near future as a policy review is pending.

A spokesman for recently formed Tamil Legal Advocacy Project (TLAP) hailed the Home Office decision despite coming under heavy pressure from UK right wing groups to deport illegal migrants.

Australia and Canada

The campaigner, who wished to be anonymous, however criticized the British authorities for not making it public.

“The UK authorities have feared another influx of illegal migrants from Sri Lanka, had they made it public,” he told the BBC.

Nearly 260 migrants were intercepted in Indonesia on their way to Australia
Migrants arrested off Indonesia have been sailing to Australia

However, Tamil asylum seekers in UK have earlier accused the British authorities of double standards - trying to send them back to Sri Lanka on the one hand while accusing the island's authorities of human rights violations on the other.

The Home Office statement comes as many other Western countries and Australia, in particular, are trying to stop the influx of new Sri Lankan migrants as a result of the recently concluded conflict.

In a statement issued in July, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on all governments not to return Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers from the north, as normality had yet to return despite the end of the war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd has once again refused to apologise for seeking help from Indonesia to arrest nearly 260 migrants on their way to Australia, last week.

Meanwhile, a ship carrying 76 suspected illegal migrants, said to all Sri Lankans, has been seized off Canada's Pacific coast, officials say.

 
 
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