RISE Exclusive Media Release – 26/07/2012

United Nations Committee Against Torture appeals to the Australian Government to prevent deportation of tamil torture survivor 26/07/2012

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has today sought to intervene in the case of “Mr X”, a Tamil asylum seeker who was forcibly deported from Australia yesterday.

Ramesh Fernandez, CEO of RISE – Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees (“RISE”) said “Despite being a victim of torture at the hands of the Sri Lankan Government, and suffering extreme ongoing physical and mental trauma as a result of this abuse, the Australian Government yesterday decided to forcibly remove Mr X and return him to the regime that tortured him”

RISE has been acting for Mr X and appealed to Minister Chris Bowen to intervene. Following his forced removal, RISE made a submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and based on Mr X’s documented history, the Committee’s Chairperson this morning made an immediate and direct request to the Australian government to prevent the return of Mr X to Sri Lanka.   

The United Nations contacted the Australian Embassy in Thailand directly as well as the Australian Mission in Geneva.  An appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, is still awaiting response from the Australian Government since October, 2011.

“Australia is a party to the Convention Against Torture, and as such is legally bound, under international law, to adhere to the provisional measures order issued yesterday not to deport Mr X” said Fernandez.

He continued, “Mr X’s family and many members of the Tamil community are severely distressed by the deportation. Victims of torture who have been forcibly returned to Sri Lanka have been subjected to further abuse and have even been killed.”

“The Tamil community in Melbourne, including Mr X’s family, hold grave concerns for his safety once he is delivered to the regime that subjected him to such horrific torture.”

“The Australian Government’s action was unconscionable and essentially involved “…hand-delivering victims of torture back to their abusers.”

Mr Fernandez was grateful for the UN’s prompt appeal on behalf of Mr X, and was hopeful it would not fall on deaf ears. “The Committee has recognised that the Australian Government is doing business with a dangerous regime. I hope their request will cause them to review their decision and realise that a man’s life hangs in the balance.”

“The communication from the United Nations on behalf of Mr X is not simply an appeal but binding under international law – if Australia takes its international law obligations seriously, it is bound to comply.”

RISE Media Contacts at 03 9639 8623.