UN slams Sri Lanka for deporting Pakistani asylum seekers

By AFP
Published: August 12, 2014
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Sri Lanka has defended its crackdown, saying a state's responsibility under international law had to be "nuanced and balanced in the context of domestic compulsions". PHOTO: REUTERS

Sri Lanka has defended its crackdown, saying a state's responsibility under international law had to be "nuanced and balanced in the context of domestic compulsions". PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA: The UN refugee agency on Tuesday accused Sri Lanka of breaking international law in its widening campaign to kick out Pakistani asylum seekers without a fair hearing.

“Fundamentally, this is a breach of the principle of no forced returns. That’s a clear violation of international law,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).

Sri Lanka has deported 88 Pakistanis since August 1, despite claims that they could be at risk in their homeland, Edwards said.

Starting with men who had been placed in detention, the country has widened the net to cover whole families, he told reporters.

“We are very concerned at the continued deportations that are happening. We want deportations stopped.”

In all, there are now 11 women and eight children among the deported, said Edwards.

“Some of the latest deportees had their passports and asylum-seeker certificates seized last week. They were told to go to Colombo airport, where they were placed on flights to Pakistan,” he said.

He added that UNHCR staff had also heard of families being separated — including a man sent home over a week ago and whose pregnant wife remains in Sri Lanka.

Hundreds of Pakistani Christians fleeing persecution have been arriving in Sri Lanka in search of a haven.

Sri Lanka has defended its crackdown, saying a state’s responsibility under international law had to be “nuanced and balanced in the context of domestic compulsions”.

Edwards could not immediately give details about the background of the deportees but said UNHCR guidelines stipulate that asylum claims from Pakistan’s Christian, Ahmadiyya Muslim and Shia Muslim minorities should be given particularly careful attention.

He said UNHCR also wants access to 157 asylum seekers – including 84 Pakistanis, 71 Afghans and two Iranians – who remain in detention in Sri Lanka.

“These recent developments have heightened anxiety among the refugee and asylum-seeker population in Sri Lanka. Many are afraid to leave their homes for fear of arrest, detention and deportation,” Edwards said.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • IndianDude
    Aug 12, 2014 - 8:32PM

    I thought that pakistan and sri lankans were goody goody friends. What happened?

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  • IndianDude
    Aug 12, 2014 - 8:36PM

    I wonder why none of the pakistani asylum seekers go to the ‘higher than mountain’ and ‘deeper than sea’ friend’s country. After all, there is direct land rout from pakistan to china using karokaram super highway! The asylum seeker can just take a bus or walk to china.

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  • Awais
    Aug 12, 2014 - 9:40PM

    I wonder why you care so much? I know recent fame and wealth is new but it will take time for some modesty to kick in.

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  • asylum seeker
    Aug 12, 2014 - 10:19PM

    UNHCR high authorities should do something to stop the ongoing deportations of asylum seekers from sri lanka.
    If they just cannot stop the deportation they should adopt some policy to grant all the asylum seekers a refugee status and send them to any third country where they can start their new fearless lives…

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  • sonu
    Aug 12, 2014 - 10:27PM

    UNHCR must help asylum seekers.
    if they cannot stop the ongoing deportations they should adopt some policy of giving all the asylum seekers a refugee status on urgent basis and resettling them to a third country.

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  • Talking Point
    Aug 12, 2014 - 10:29PM

    @Awais: Fame and wealth? Can I smell something burning ?

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  • FinalWord
    Aug 12, 2014 - 10:32PM

    Why are these guys leaving Pakistan in the first place? It’s not like Sunnis are not dying – we’re being killed too. If we all ran away, who would be there to save our country? Anyway, I forgive my Shia brothers for running away. All’s well that ends well, and you are returning to your true homeland. Now let’s work together to improve our nation!

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  • politically incorrect
    Aug 12, 2014 - 11:05PM

    UN is right. It’s not only Sri Lanka, but each and every country is under divine obligation to accept Pakistani immigrants. Even if these immigrants, when they become a bit settled in their host countries demand Sharia law etc.

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  • Appalled
    Aug 12, 2014 - 11:35PM

    Shame on Srilanka !
    Deporting people ,fleeing from prosecution back to the land they escaped from is inhumane.

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  • someone
    Aug 13, 2014 - 5:30AM

    Of course these asylum seekers are not going to stop at Sri Lanka. They will catch the same boats as Sri Lankans do to go to Australia.

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  • IndianBuraq
    Aug 13, 2014 - 7:03AM

    No country will take in Muslims.

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  • Zayed Hamied
    Aug 13, 2014 - 9:19AM

    This really doesn’t matter. All that matter to us is how Indian Muslims are treated in India……….As far as our minorities are concerned, Pakistan is not made for them in the first place……

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  • poleturtle
    Aug 13, 2014 - 12:43PM

    Why do they not just go to India. I guess India will welcome them and protect them.

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  • Adi
    Sep 15, 2014 - 5:57AM

    @IndianBuraq:
    We are talking about Christians here.

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