PT (Risk-Bribery-Release) Sri Lanka CG  UKIAT 03444
Date of hearing: 25 June 2002
Date Determination notified: 5 August 2002
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
"6.1 The Director explained that if a returnee were not wanted they would not be stopped at the airport. However, when the CID are certain that the individual has committed or been convicted of an offence then they would be stopped. A computer holds the name, address and age of a wanted person. The police purely go on records – scars would not make a difference and the authorities would not make a decision on this basis.
6.2 We were told that there had been no round-ups of Tamils in Colombo in the last six months.
6.3 The Director thought that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) was very effective. The HRC are able to visit and make enquiries. Therefore the procedures are open and investigated and the police are not able to do anything untoward.
6.4 The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) is still in force. The government are seriously considering repealing the Act, and there has been an order not to make any arrests under the PTA, only under common law. [This is part of the text of the cease-fire agreement]. The CID is now allied with the Ministry of the Interior and the Director felt that this was a positive move as the police were now more closely linked to the public.
6.5 Failure to comply with reporting restrictions would not warrant reporting or recording."
"Checks on returnees at the Colombo Airport have been eased with many returned rejected asylum seekers simply being waived [sic] through since December 2001. This is in sharp contrast to what happened previously where basically every returnee was referred to CID and thereafter referred to the magistrate in Negombo in order to carry out relevant checks, where they were necessary. Most returnee cases that underwent this process were released on the same day. Scarring is not seen to be a significant issue, although obvious scarring could draw attention and result in further enquiries and detention by the authorities."
"Although steps towards peace have been taken in Sri Lanka recently, it is still premature to advocate that the situation has reached a satisfactory level of safety to warrant the return of all unsuccessful asylum applicants to Sri Lanka. In this regard, UNHCR has been aware that returning Tamils are potentially open to risk of serious harm similar to those generally encountered by young male Tamils in certain circumstances. This risk may be triggered by suspicions (on the part of the security forces) founded on various factual elements relating to the individual concerned, including the lack of identity documents, the lack of proper authorisation for residence and travel, the fact that the individual concerned is a young Tamil male from an 'uncleared' area or the fact that the person has close family members who are or have been involved with the LTTE. . . . In UNHCR's view, the presence of torture related scars on the body of a returnee should be a relevant consideration in assessing likelihood of danger upon the return of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers. Where such scars are related to human rights abuses, they would likely be seen as evidence of the security forces previous interest in the particular individual. This could in turn serve to trigger further adverse attention to that individual. While every case should be assessed on its own merits, UNHCR would reiterate its view that special care should be taken in relation to the return of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka."
"UNHCR's advice revolves around the fundamental principle that in matters of status determination as well as removals each case deserves individual consideration on its own merits. Our approach has been to highlight the need for this principle to be observed in the Sri Lankan context and to stress that despite recent prospects for peace the principle remains valid and should continue to be applied to unsuccessful Sri Lankan asylum seekers. This approach is based on the view that where a decision to remove is principled and carefully taken on an individual basis it is defensible and less open to challenge and the asylum seeker's return is more likely to be durable. . . In the light of the current situation in Sri Lanka we reiterate UNHCR's view that removal decisions should be based on careful consideration of individual circumstances."
"Whilst we accept that release on bail indicates that the person concerned is no longer any serious suspect, the Secretary of State accepts that this Appellant was irregularly released from detention on payment of a substantial bribe. How the Officer concerned would have recorded the release is necessarily a matter of speculation. We do not accept that after a prolonged period of detention it is likely there will be no record of his detention. That would involve destroying or falsifying official records built up over a period of some six weeks. We consider that it is more likely there will be some recorded explanation as to why the Appellant is no longer in custody and this might be either that he has escaped or has been released on the basis of insufficient evidence against him. The underlying point is that the real reason will not be recorded."
"Cases of escapes from army custody are not known to UNHCR although there have been reports of people held in police custody who have allegedly escaped. Obtaining release from army custody on the payment of a bribe appears to be a possibility; it is possible that such releases would be recorded as an official release without charge."
"It seems to us that it is highly improbable to say the least that a police officer, releasing a man on payment of a bribe, would record it as an escape. There is certainly no need to do so. If the police wanted to keep an interest in him all that was necessary was to note that he might be of interest in the future. Normally if someone is released on payment of a bribe or otherwise it is indeed because the authorities take the view that there is no good reason to detain him even if there is some involvement with the LTTE at a very level."
1. Checks on returnees at Colombo airport have been eased with many returned rejected asylum seekers simply being waved through.
2. If a returnee was not wanted he would not be stopped at the airport.
3. Scarring is not seen to be a significant issue although obvious scarring could draw attention and result in further inquiries and detention by the authorities.
4. Most returnee cases undergoing checks were released on the same day.
5. There is complete freedom of movement in the Colombo area.