Refugee Rights Campaign condemns Home Office treatment of torture victims

A landmark judgement at the UK Supreme Court has exposed how the Home Office denies justice to asylum seekers. Now we need to campaign for the rights of those seeking refuge from war and torture.

The cases of many asylum seekers have been rejected by the Home Office because evidence of torture has been dismissed as “inflicted self-harm”. But the verdict awarded by the Supreme Court on 6 March in the case of a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker stated that self-harm of this level is virtually non-existent. Meanwhile the courts also concluded that there is mounting evidence of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and its armed forces carrying out torture, rape, and other violence.

The Refugee Rights Campaign welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision. However the Home Office’s systematic failure in assessing Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have been victims of human rights abuses must be noted here. We demand the end to vilifying asylum seekers and denying their claims’ credibility. The Home Office must stop taking evidence and advice from the security forces of Sri Lanka to determine whether an asylum seeker is genuine or not. The Home Office keeps many torture survivors in detention leading to major mental health issues.

The 1st of March protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court during the case against Sri Lankan army commander Priyanga Fernando brought to light how the GOSL is working with the UK security services to identify activists who oppose them. Framing activists as LTTE militants/supporters/sympathisers is an attempt to suppress our voices.

We demand an independent investigation into the Home Office’s treatment of asylum seekers. We demand a review of claims that have been denied with compensation paid to those who have been falsely detained or left in limbo. A democratic and accountable committee is needed to carry out the investigation that includes representatives of trade unions and refugee organisations. Detention of torture victims must end immediately.

The Windrush scandal exposed the hostile environment attitude of the Tories and the Home Office. Despite the public outcry there is still no evidence that the Home Office has changed its approach. There must be a trade union inquiry into how asylum cases are dealt with involving refugee organisations alongside the unions. Their recommendations must be acted on immediately. We also need to join those campaigning for a general election to get the Tories out.

The Refugee Rights Campaign urges all those refugees and asylum seekers to join us in this fightback against the Home Office denial of justice.

Ketheswaran S

For Refugee Rights Campaign and Tamil Solidarity