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London Tamils live in fear of being deported

September 17, 2009

Local Guardian – Hounslow Tamils ‘terrified to speak out’
A Hounslow Tamil is urging the Government to stop leaving his fellow islanders in limbo, after reports of Tamils being deported despite officials accusing Sri Lankan authorities of human rights violations.

Former asylum seeker Rajsh Kumar, now a legal adviser at Hounslow Tamil Community Centre (TCC), said many Hounslow Tamils were still waiting for court dates to claim asylum, while others were terrified they would be deported if they could not prove their life would be in danger if they returned.

He said: “These people are terrified to speak out.

“They are often too scared to even speak to me.

“A Tamil came to see me and he has been sleeping rough as he can not work because of his immigration status. He is drinking and has many social problems – all because he has been waiting for 10 years to find out about his status.

“Many others are scared they will have to return. If they are sent back and arrested for so-called crimes they will just disappear because there is no legal system in Sri Lanka now.

“You must remember there has been 40 years of fighting, they have been living with this for that long.

“How can the Government say on one hand these people can not prove persecution while being critical of the situation in Sri Lanka? People are left in limbo, not knowing if they have to go back or when.

“If the Government gave people a timeline to say you will go back in 2010 or 2015, there would not be such social problems.”

In July, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on all governments not to return asylum seekers from the north, as normality had yet to return, despite the end of the war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government.

Thavarani Nagulendran, of TCC, claimed the UK authorities deported at least 12 Sri Lankans, most of them Tamils, in July and said she knew of 50 Tamils facing deportation.

The UK has been highly critical of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka as security forces intensified fighting against the rebels before declaring victory in May.

A Home Office spokesman said it would not comment on individual asylum applications and each application was assessed on its individual merits.

He added: “At the moment we are assisting with voluntary returns but we have not enforced the return of any failed asylum seekers.”

• What do you think? Let us know by email (gholt@london.newsquest.co.uk), phone the newsdesk on 020 8744 4271 or leave a comment below.

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