Update on UAE Tamil Asylum Crisis: TAG request to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tamils (8 April)

By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), Sunday, April 14 2013
On the 8th April TAG  made a direct, open request to the APPG-T to actively seize themselves of the UAE matter, with a particular focus on assisting those UNHCR accepted refugees with close connections (family) in Britain. On the 9th the request was forwarded to Lee Scott, Conservative MP and Head of the APPG-T on the 9th. They responded within hours of receipt that, while Parliament is in recess, they have drawn the issue to the attention of the relevant Minister. We make this public now in the interests of transparency - what is the government's position? We continue to seek the assistance of other relevant governments.

"UAE: Imminent deportation of Tamil refugees

On October 14th a boat with 46 Tamil asylum seekers was rescued by a Singaporean ship and taken to Jebel Ali Harbour, UAE. UNHCR recognized 39 of the 46 as refugees. The UNHCR has been seeking third-country resettlement on their behalf, but it has not yet been able to secure resettlement offers for 19 of them. In the last few days these 19 have received visits from UAE officials informing them that they will be deported, by the 11th April, according to one official, and within the next two weeks, according to another.  HRW has released a statement on this matter:http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/06/uae-don-t-deport-tamil-refugees-sri-lanka.

At least 9 of those 19 yet to be resettled are prominent figures, assessed to be at great risk if returned. Judged to be at particular risk of torture, ill treatment and potentially death, is Ms Rathimohini Lokini.
 
Ms. Rathimohini Lokini is an ethnic Tamil born in northern Sri Lanka. Prior to 2009, she lived in the Kilinichchi District in the Northern Province which remained under the control of the Tamil rebels. She joined the rebel run NTT television (National Television of Tamil Eelam) in June 2006 and worked as a newscaster. She was one of the main female newscasters of the television station and therefore became widely known (in the following link you can see, she is reading news on NTT:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BWkLD4Y1NE&feature=player_embedded#!<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BWkLD4Y1NE&feature=player_embedded#%21>)
 

She worked for the TV until December 2008 and left the rebel controlled areas on the 8th of December 2008. After coming to the government controlled areas, she could not live in the open as she knew that she could be easily identified by the military due to her regular appearance on the television. Fearing for her life, she left Sri Lanka in April 2009.

Ms Rathimohini is one of the 19 threatened with deportation. Her vulnerable situation has already been highlighted by Tamil media as you may see in following links (the title says 'is it going to be another Isai Priya?) : http://ttnnews.com/?p=7391. Apart from being an ethnic Tamil from the north, her well-known connection to the rebel television station increases her vulnerability to a great extent. If deported, it is feared that she would face the same fate as her colleague Ms. Isai Priya.

Request. Ms Rathimohini has relatives in the UK, who are willing and able to sponsor her. In order to seek asylum in the UK she needs to apply in person at the British High Commission. She is being held in detention by UAE authorities and is thus unable to do so. Therefore we are asking the APPG-T to request the Home Secretary to make the special arrangements that would allow for asylum applications outside of UK soil, in this instance. It is our understanding that the Home Secretary has the discretion to do so, and can instruct the UKBA accordingly.

The aunt of Ms Rathimohini has instructed a lawyer - XXXRedactedXXXXX - who is in the process of drawing up an application for Humanitarian Protection outside the immigration rules. It is our understanding that a number of the 19 also have links to British citizens, and we would ask that the British High Commission in the UAE also interview these remaining 19 with a view to offering asylum.

Thank you for your assistance in advance,

H Briscoe

TAG Litigation and Advocacy Manager
 
Web: www.tamilsagainstgenocide.org<http://www.tamilsagainstgenocide.org>

Twitter: @TAGAdvocacy

Tel: XXXRedactedXXXX