Submissions to the Commons Select Committee on Asylum

By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), Tuesday, April 16 2013
TAG is among a number of British NGOs that have raised concerns about UKBA processes in submissions to the Select Committee for the closing date of  Monday April 15th

TAG’s standing to make submissions to the UK High Court has been accepted by Mr Justice Mitting and by Lord Justice Kay; respectively in the case Tamils Against Genocide And SSHD [CO/12153/2011] and subsequent appeal at the Court of Appeal. TAG has previously intervened in two asylum cases at the Administrative Court, Queen’s Bench Division. TAG is an Interested Party in the Country Guidance Case that is currently ongoing. 

Here follows a summary of point raised by TAG in our submissions to the Commons Select Committee on Asylum :

We oppose scheduled charter flights altogether in the case of Sri Lanka. The effect of such flights is to assist the GoSL in identifying returnees who have or are perceived to have opposed the state, and are thus more likely to be persecuted as a result. The background evidence indicates that asylum seekers are considered by the GoSL to be bringing the state into disrepute by the very act of seeking asylum from it. For example, the Bishop of Mannar, December 2012, called for an end to deportations back to the North East, He stated in his letter that those who were returned to the island were considered to be “traitors”. 

Only upon receipt of a Freedom of Information Request has the UKBA analysed its own available date with regard to the treatment of failed asylum seekers. We contend that such analysis should be done as a matter of course. 

We note that Operational Guidance Policy Bulletins have been produced without consultation with NGOs whose work they critique and dismiss. Bulletins have been published that contain errors, and often directly prior to a scheduled failed asylum seekers charter flight allowing insufficient time for NGOs and legal practitioners to respond. We therefore recommend that NGOs are consulted with prior to the publication of such reports.

TAG has observed the dismissal of torture claims and the presence of scarring without recourse to evidence, and a distinct lack of sensitivity for the victim.

We raise the issue of Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt's confident denial (to the BBC) of the governments knowledge of ongoing torture of returnees from the UK notwithstanding that a Freedom of Information request has shown UKBA is in possession of large quantities of evidence of such torture. (see TAG's press release on Alistair Burt's BBC Interview here - )

Our recommendations include
  1. That NGOs be consulted with prior to the publication of Bulletins that reference their research
  1. That the UKBA analyse their own statistics and data on the treatment of failed asylum seekers
  1. Charter flights of failed Tamil asylum seekers be stopped. All deportation flights be suspended whilst a country guidance case is on-going.
  1. A review of communications between FCO and UKBA regarding asylum with a view to bettering liaison.