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May 18, 2010

SECOND REPORT SAYS SRI LANKA IS UNSAFE

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media release May 18, 2010

REFUGEE GROUPS CALL FOR END OF VISA FREEZE AND TO STOP TAMIL DEPORTATIONS

The second report in less than a month has indicated that there is no justification for the Australian government freezing the visa applications of Sri Lanka asylum seekers.

A UNHCR report, Cori Country report 2010 (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4bd1aa632.html), documents in late April quoted International Crisis Group and US State Department reports that revealed on-going concerns at human right abuses under the Rajapaksa regime.

Now according to media reports the International Crisis Group has specifically requested that the Australian government not return asylum seekers suspected to be Tamil Tiger supporters to Sri Lanka.

At the time of the visa freeze announcement, the government claimed that the government freeze was based on the UNHCR review of the situation, but there is nothing in the UNHCR report or the International Crisis Group report that supports the government’s decision to freeze Sri Lankan refugee applications.

“The government must urgently re-consider its decision to freeze Sri Lankan and Afghan refugee visa applications. There is simply no justification for it,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We are also urging the government to halt the deportation of Sri Lankans,” said Rintoul, “It is clear from the country reports that Sri Lanka is unsafe.

“Both Sinhalese and Tamil asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka have been detained, questioned, jailed, gone into hiding or fled to other countries.”

A High Court challenge to off-shore processing was lodged earlier this month, yet the government has been stepping up its attempts to deport Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

“The government is aware of the High Court challenge but rather than delaying deportations until the outcome of the High Court case is known, it is insisting that every asylum seeker makes their own application,” said Rintoul.

“In the last 10 days, the deportation of two Tamils was only prevented by last minute legal action. Now an unaccompanied 16 year old Tamil on Christmas Island has been told that he will be removed.”

“With the visa freeze and the deportations, the government is playing a reckless game with the lives of asylum seekers.”

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul: 0417 275 713

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