NSWCCL calls on DFAT to retract Sri Lanka report

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is calling DFAT to withdraw its 2019 Country Information Report - Sri Lanka, relied on to refuse protection to Tamils including the Murugappan family, due to concerns over its currency and accuracy.

DFAT's country report was criticised recently (27 May) by a UK Upper Tribunal, along with a similar UK report, which the UK Home Office removed the next day (28 May) as it was 'out of date'.

The Tribunal said that:

"In addition to taking account of open source materials such as the US Department of State human rights reports, DFAT is based on “on-the-ground knowledge and discussions with a range of sources in Sri Lanka.” However, none of the sources are identified, there is no explanation as to how the information from these sources was obtained, and there is no annex containing, for example, records of any interviews (unlike the FFM). Indeed, it is unclear whether any formal interviews took place. The report does not provide direct quotes from any source. In light of these matters, it is difficult to gauge the reliability of the sources which have informed the “judgement and assessment” applied to them by the authors of the report."

The Tribunal also confirmed that Tamils returned to Sri Lanka risk torture, noting that:

"it is abundantly clear that there is a reasonable likelihood that those detained by the Sri Lankan authorities will be subjected to persecution within the meaning of the Refugee Convention and ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR."

"The use of torture and excessive force is variously described as “endemic” and “common”, and that “a “culture of torture” persists” in the country. Descriptions of the types of treatment meted out to detainees are all-too familiar and follow a similar pattern to that considered by Tribunals in previous Sri Lankan country guidance cases."

"Whilst there is currently limited space for pro-Tamil political organisations to operate within Sri Lanka, there is no tolerance of the expression of any avowedly separatist or perceived separatist beliefs." 

The NSWCCL supports demands by Australian human rights groups that DFAT set aside its report and alert all responsible decision making bodies to suspend reliance on its contents.

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