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'Tortured' UK asylum seeker gets

deportation reprieve
A Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker who claims to have suffered extensive torture before escaping to the UK
has won a last minute reprieve just hours before he was due to be forcibly deported.

Image courtesy of Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

T H U R S D AY 19 MARCH 2015

A Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker who claims to have suffered extensive torture
before escaping to the UK has won a last minute reprieve just hours before he was
due forcibly deported to Sri Lanka.
Kannan Kalimuththu, a 36 year old former policemen with the Tamil Tiger (LTTE)
separatist rebels, has already attempted to commit suicide on two occasions and
is said to be on permanent suicide watch in the UKs highest security Immigration
Removal Centre at Colnbrook, near Heathrow.
A psychiatrist's had warned that deportation was "very likely" to cause his mental
health to "deteriorate dramatically" and leave him at "high risk of suicide".

Tonight lawyers for Mr Kalimuththu successfully applied for emergency injunction


to stop his deportation.
The ruling means he cannot be deported until his case his re-heard a process
which could take a few weeks.
Civil war

Mr Kalimuththu survived Sri Lanka's brutal civil war which ended in 2009 in a
bloodbath in which tens of thousands of civilians died - most killed by government
shelling although the Tigers too stand accused of committing serious war crimes.
Mr Kalimuththu, who lost several members of his family during the fighting, was
separated from his wife and child at the end of the war when he surrendered to
government forces.
He says he has no idea what has happened to them or even if they are still alive
six years later.
After his capture in 2009, Mr Kalimuththu was held in one of Sri Lankas most
notorious military-run Sri Lankan detention centres until 2014.
He claims that in this time he was tortured for weeks on end and on multiple
occasions.
Treatment included being beaten with plastic pipes filled with sand and wooden
batons and electric shocks through the tips of his thumbs.
He claims that on other occasions he was kicked on the chest, stripped naked,
locked into a small dark room and given very little food and water.
One person who saw Mr Kalimuththu two days ago described him as being in a
"terrible" state.
"He was clearly severely traumatised, very withdrawn and avoided any eye
contact. I am very seriously worried about his safety," she said.
Nightmares and flashbacks

She described how Kalimuththu was suffering from nightmares and flashbacks
and said he was constantly disturbed by thinking he could hear his son and wife

crying out to him.


He would often awake screaming at night and she feared that as a torture survivor
he is constantly re-traumatised by being in detention.
"He's scared of the men in uniform, he avoids wires and cables and feels under
surveillance. I find it beyond belief that the UK is contemplating forcibly deporting
this man. It is shameful."
In November last year Mr Kalimuththu attempted to hang himself using a ligature
and a bed-sheet tied to a second floor bannister in Coinbrook Immigration
Removal Centre, near Harmondsworth.
He was rescued by another resident who held his legs while raising the alarm.
He appeared to lose consciousness and was taken to hospital. One psychiatrist
who examined Mr Kalimuththu on two occasions at the request of his legal
counsel concluded that the attempt was "serious with the clear intent to die".
That same psychiatrist also concluded that he is currently severely depressed
and hopeless He said he was highly suicidal and that his PTSD symptoms have
worsened due to fear of deportation. He warns that if he is departed his condition
will deteriorate dramatically and that this would leave him at high risk of
suicide.
Brad Adams, director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, welcomed the
decision and accused the British government of having turned a blind eye to
compelling evidence that Mr Kalimuththu would be detained and tortured on
return to Sri Lanka.
"The fact that there has been a recent change of governments in Sri Lanka
doesnt mean that people with his profile wont be tortured, since the police have
not been reformed and the views of former Tamil Tigers havent changed," he
said.
Convention against torture

Pointing out that the UK is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other

Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment which forbids expelling someone "where


there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being
subjected to torture," Adams pointed to the Sri Lankan states long and well
documented record of violations of human rights and the use of torture.
"Until the Sri Lankan government demonstrates that it has definitively ceased its
practice of torturing those suspected of LTTE links, the UK must impose a
moratorium on returns of people with this profile," he said.
Before hearing of the injunction, a spokesman for the Home Office insisted that
the UK has a "proud history" of granting asylum to those who need protection.
"Each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits against up-to-date
country information, relevant case law and any policy guidance specific to the
type of claim," he said.
"However, when someone is found not to need our protection we expect them to
leave at the earliest opportunity. If they do not, we will enforce their removal. Last
June then Foreign Secretary William Hague pledged to investigate claims that
Tamil Asylum seekers were being returned despite evidence they had been
subjected to sexual violence and torture."
"Where people have a valid point, a valid complaint, we will take it up. This is
something the whole government feels strongly about. So be in no doubt: where
there are issues, we will investigate them."
Mr Kalimuththu will now have to await for a further hearing to decide his fate.
That is likely to take a few weeks, but his lawyers insist that his case is so clear
and so strong that it would be a travesty if he were not now allowed to stay.
Callum Macrae (@Callum_Macrae) is the director of No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields
of Sri Lanka (NoFireZone.org)
Posted by Thavam