Statement: Clarification of the number of known cases of torture of Tamils returning to Sri Lanka post 2009

By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), Tuesday, February 26 2013
This statement seeks to clarify the total number of known cases of torture of Tamil returnees to Sri Lanka based on recent reports by Freedom From Torture (FFT) , Human Rights Watch(HRW) and Tamils Against Genocide (TAG).
Tsol wrote to the court yesterday saying the total number of allegations of torture on return since May 2009 made by FFT, HRW and TAG 
in their recent reports is 64. This number is wrong. We have asked them to correct their letter.

TAG is an interested party in the on-going country guidance on Sri Lanka to assess the risk of ill-treatment of Tamils returning to Sri Lanka. 

In these proceedings the Tribunal asked the above three NGOs to cross check duplication and arrive at a total number of known cases. TAG undertook to prepare this joint statement and the figures below are based on this:
As of the 4th of February 2013 there were a total of 99 allegations collated by the three NGOs of detention and torture of Tamils returning to Sri Lanka from Europe, voluntarily or involuntarily after May 2009.  The vast majority of cases are supported by expert medical reports.
Of the 99 allegations of returnee torture, the vast majority (over 86) relate to persons returning from the United Kingdom. This is because most of the data was collected in the UK. 

Of the 99 cases, 34 were judgement handed down by UK asylum tribunals accepting torture on return. The status of the remaining cases is unknown.

On the 6th of February 2013, the UK Border Agency in response to a freedom of information request has disclosed that there are 15 cases of failed asylum seekers who have alleged torture after deportation and have been granted asylum on a second application to the UK.
There are now a set of over 50 known, accepted cases of torture of Tamils on return from the UK in the period May 2009 onwards. Accepted mostly means accepted by judges in court judgments or in 9 cases accepted by the UK Border Agency without any court proceedings. Of the remaining, their status is not known.

On the 26th of February HRW published a further report of sexual violence in detention in Sri Lanka. We have not analysed this report to count how many of these relate to people that have returned to Sri Lanka from the UK.

TAG do not know of any cases that of torture alleged by Tamil returnees that have failed to be granted asylum by immigration judges. UKBA failed to disclose any such failed cases before the country guidance tribunal.

There may be many more cases that are not yet known. This is because the UK Border Agency has not disclosed all the cases of torture following voluntary returns that it knows of.   All of these cases have come to light when tortured returnees then come back a second time to the United Kingdom and seek asylum. There are likely to be many more cases of torture victims who have not made it out of Sri Lanka or indeed who are still in detention after returning from the United Kingdom.

Please see also our 2012  report "Returnees at Risk: Detention and Torture in Sri Lanka" and the corresponding reports of FFT and HRW for an explanation of the different underlying, distinct data sets collected by the different NGOs.

Please note that all of the above relate to Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka. They exclude the known cases of Sri Lanka's detention without charge and torture of British, Canadian and other citizens who happen to be of Tamil ethnicity.