The rights group, Tamils Against Genocide [TAG] applied on Wednesday morning to the UK Administrative Court for an injunction against the UK government proceeding with the charter flight of forced returns to Sri Lanka scheduled for 15.30 pm on the same day.
See here for court order.
The application was made based on the information contained in recent report released by TAG, entitled 'Returnees at Risk', which detailed egregious torture of 26 students and other persons returning voluntarily to Sri Lanka after spending a short period of time in Britain.
TAG challenged the UK Border Agency's presumption that forced removals are 'safe'. Although the judge found there is no such policy that it is safe to remove Tamils to Sri Lanka, all challenges must be mounted on an individual basis, which in practice is very cumbersome, and makes it impossible for claimants to pursue without funding.
However in a further individual appeal by a deportee, Mr Justice Ockleton who earlier this morning refused TAG’s ‘generic’ application accepted ‘I am concerned in particular by recent reports, including those from Freedom from Torture and Tamils Against Genocide but the identified risk is to those who have an actual or perceived association (at any level) with the LTTE and are returned from the UK.’
In a statement, the TAG spokesperson said, ‘we welcome the concerns expressed by the Judges citing our report – we hasten to say however that in view of the Sri Lankan government’s having described UN Commissioner Navi Pillay as a ‘terrorist’ the group of people perceived by the Rajapaksa government to be supporters of the LTTE is very wide indeed. It includes Freedom From Torture, Channel 4 and many British Parliamentarians. And this is not being taken into account by the British Judges at the moment.’
TAG's report asserts that the country guidance in leading UK cases is now out of date.
TAG has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights seeking an urgent injunction of the flight and pursuing its right to have the 'generic issue' of safety of Tamil returnees tested in court.