Beginning in August, the Sri Lankan government began an aggressive campaign of arresting and forcefully deporting refugees found in Sri Lanka. Many of these refugee come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran and are from a Christian background. Many of these refugee face intense persecution of they are forced to return to their country of origin. Despite this treat, Sri Lanka has continued to deport these refugees, but human rights lawyers in Sri Lanka have challenged this action. Please pray for justice to be done in this case.
9/18/2014 Sri Lanka (Pakistan Observer) – Sri Lankan rights activists have gone to the country’s highest court in a bid to stop the government summarily deporting Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani refugees, their lawyer said Saturday.
Six human rights defenders have petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the expulsions, which are being carried out despite warnings that Sri Lanka is in breach of its international obligations, lawyer Lakshan Dias told AFP. “The case is coming up on September 29,” Dias said. “We feel that some of the people who are being sent back face real danger. They have life-threatening conditions if they go back. That is why local rights defenders decided to file this case.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement Friday urged Sri Lanka to stop arrests and deportations of those who have filed refugee claims with the agency’s Colombo offices and sought access to those already detained.
Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal, which is one step lower than the Supreme Court, earlier this month overturned an order suspending the deportations and cleared the way for the authorities to continue expulsions.
The UNHCR said Colombo had initially responded to its appeals and released 71 Pakistanis and two Iranians earlier this month, but 102 people — 38 Pakistanis and 64 Afghans — remained in custody and fresh arrests were taking place.
Between September 3 and 11, 62 Pakistanis and three Iranians had been arrested and 40 of them had already been deported, the UNHCR said. The refugee agency has maintained that the deportations go against the principle of no forced return, or non-refoulement, enshrined in international law.
The agency has also noted that returning an individual to a country where they face the risk of torture is prohibited under the UN’s Convention Against Torture, which Sri Lanka has ratified.
Hundreds of Pakistani Christians and Afghans fleeing persecution in their countries have been arriving in Sri Lanka seeking UNHCR protection in the capital Colombo.