A possie in Aussie

October 3, 2009

Sri Lankan asylum seeker says he will be killed

Refugee advocates are preparing a legal battle with the Australian Government over a Sri Lankan asylum seeker.

The Federal Government is preparing the first forcible deportation from Christmas Island of nine Sri Lankans who swam ashore last November after arriving on a boat carrying 12 people seeking asylum. Two on the boat have since returned willingly to Sri Lanka. Nine Sri Lankans to become first forced deportations

They will be the first detainees on the island to be returned against their will to their country of origin.

Ian Rintoul , of the Refugee Action Coalition says that a 38 year old man, Sarath Tennakoon, was expected to be flown from Christmas Island to Perth last Thursday. Sarath’s appeal to the Minister was rejected as “not meeting the guidelines”.

Rintoul says that Sarath served some time with Sri Lankan government intelligence services, and says his life is in danger if he is returned to Sri Lanka.

“They say there is no problem for me in Sri Lanka, but there is a big problem,” Sarath told the Refugee Action Coalition from Christmas Island. “If I am returned, the government will kill me.” (See Asylum seekers are not tigers, just Tamils)

“It is outrageous that the Minister is deporting Sarath,” says Ian Rintoul.

“Legislation is currently in the Parliament to consider introducing complementary protection for those asylum seekers who may not fit the precise definitions of the Refugee Convention. The least that the Minister could do is allow Sarath to be considered under the terms of that legislation.”

Andrew Bartlett points to Human Rights Watch research into the situation in Sri Lanka.

“As of September 15, 2009, the Sri Lankan government was holding 264,583 internally displaced persons in detention camps and hospitals.

Specific problems:

Arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance;

Inability to trace missing relatives: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which often traces family members, has been barred from the main camps since mid-July;

The military camp administration is preventing humanitarian organizations, including the UN and the ICRC, from undertaking effective monitoring and protection in the camps;

Dreadful conditions in the camps and expected deterioration during the monsoon;

Lack of access to proper medical care;

Lack of transparency and information.”

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